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Harvard Graduate School of Education

Empowering and Strengthening Relationships Across Early Childhood Settings

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Description

Growing quality across early childhood systems begins with creating a community of caring and responsive adults who are prepared to support children's and each other's learning and development. Early education leaders are uniquely positioned to create the conditions that foster positive interactions and build strong relationships between adults and children, and among the adults.

During Empowering Human Relationships Across Early Childhood Systems participants will have the opportunity to use simple, adaptive tools and strategies to capture, describe, and strengthen human interactions across early learning settings and systems. The program will include practical workshops, collaborative conversations with peers, and a reflective planning process aimed at supporting meaningful and consistent interactions with and around young children.

Program Details

Bridging the science of human interactions with the everyday practice of early childhood education, this institute introduces and explores the essential question: “How do we encourage, enrich, and empower the human relationships around children through practice, program, and policy?”

Empowering Human Relationships Across Early Childhood Systems is offered as part of the Zaentz Professional Learning Academy, featuring the tools and resources of “Simple Interactions,” a collaboration between the Fred Rogers Center on Early Learning and Children’s Media and the Zaentz Initiative. Led by Faculty Co-Chairs Junlei Li, Nonie Lesaux, and Stephanie Jones, this two-day on-campus institute offers participants a combination of practice-based learning experiences, research and theoretical insights from both within and beyond the early childhood field, and community-supported problem solving.

Specific activities include:

  • Video case studies that examine and challenge the theories and policies on the context of everyday practices.
  • Introduction and practice of analytical and planning tools to observe and strengthen human interactions across multiple levels of early childhood system.
  • Focused presentations on how to support adults who serve children from research- and practice-based professionals both within and beyond early child education.
  • Learning and practice activities that help participants adapt and integrate the tools and theories with their own experiences, as well as the unique opportunities and constraints in their settings and professional roles.

Program Objectives

"We cannot make a lasting impact for children by skipping over the adults in the middle."

Nonie Lesaux and Stephanie Jones, Faculty Directors of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative, HGSE

  • Understand Human Interactions as the Active Ingredient: Participants will define what is a developmental human interaction both theoretically and practically and how such interactions contribute to the full range of child development goals from language to social and emotional learning.
  • Help the Helpers: Participants will envision and plan how to support the development of young children’s helpers (educators and parents) and empower adult-child human interactions.
  • Grow Communities of Practice: Adapting simple tools and resources, participants will engage in practice-based conversations for professional learning settings and re-examine early childhood systems with a relationship-focused lens.

Who should attend

Early childhood professionals and leaders who have the opportunities to support the learning and development of other adults in service of children and families, including:

  • Leaders and teacher leaders in early education learning environments
  • Directors of early education centers or programs
  • Instructional coaches and early education consultants
  • Early education leadership teams in school district settings
  • Early education leadership teams within non-profit organizations, philanthropy, and governmental entities

Experts

Stephanie Jones' research, anchored in prevention science, focuses on the effects of poverty and exposure to violence on children and youth's social, emotional, and behavioral development. Over the last ten years her work has focused on both evaluation research addressing the impact of preschool ...
Nonie K. Lesaux is Academic Dean and the Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society. Her research focuses on promoting the language and literacy skills of today's children from diverse linguistic, cultural and economic backgrounds, and is conducted largely in urban an...
Junlei Li is the Saul Zaentz senior lecturer in early childhood education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research and practice focuses on understanding and supporting the work of helpers–those who serve children and families on the frontlines of education and social services. Li...
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