Presentations highlight creative ideas.
Early childhood education students presented advocacy projects, research-based work on various topics, in order to help bring awareness to the public at Northampton Community College (NCC) on December 16. Their three-sided posters artistically illustrated their ideas. Students collected signature sheets to quantify how many times they delivered their messages—an advocacy activity. The students explained their poster presentations and answered questions, connecting evidence-based knowledge to topics that affect early childhood education. All the presentations included strategies to address students’ needs in particular areas.
William Fritts presented “The Sky’s the Limit,” advocating for strategies to help students with disabilities achieve success, citing attachment studies to underscore the importance of beginning the measures early in a child’s life. Among his recommendations were closed captioning and prompts and encouraging social interaction.
Alexa Simon’s “Emotional Intelligence” had to do with helping children recognize emotions in themselves and others and manage their feelings. She suggested teaching deep breathing, self-talk and seeking support from others.
Pou Lei presented “Multi-lingual, Multi-Cultural Learning.” She demonstrated the advantages of being multi-lingual and understanding other cultures, as promoting students’ future careers in a global economy, strengthening cognitive abilities in childhood and later life, and advancing social skills.
Kaleigh Lahr’s “Play” depicted play as integral to childhood education, in terms of physical, social, motor, and self-regulation development. She said that play is serious learning, the work of childhood, and she recommended ways to incorporate it into the school day.
Kimberly Morillo advocated for “Free Lunch for All,” emphasizing that good nutrition is essential to learning. She recommended teachers’ awareness of hunger’s role in behavior and advised teachers to keep snacks for their students at hand. Her poster also directed families to organizations that provide food during the summer, when school is closed.
Other presentations included “English Language Learners” by Marisela Montero, “High-Quality Childcare for At-Risk Children” by Princess Arroyo, “Inclusive Education in Public Schools” by Samantha Mattes, “Child Trauma” by Hannah Mengel, “Child Hunger,” by Berrin Tok, and “Anti-Bias Classrooms” by Victoria Mariani.
Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education Mel Sivells discussed the importance of advocacy by early childhood educators and the incorporation of art into learning, as taught to NCC early education students and practiced at the Reibman Children’s Center as “Art as a Way of Learning.”
“Art is a language,” she said.
The creator of “Art as a Way of Learning ®,” Administrator Emerita Rebecca Gordon, attended the event and praised the way the students put advocacy at the center of their presentations and the dynamism they are taking with them from their experiences at NCC. In collaboration with faculty, artists, art teachers, elementary classroom teachers, and researchers, “we built the program from the ground up,” she said. “Art as a Way of Learning” has been replicated across the United States and in China, Finland and South Korea. Gordon has given presentations in Saudi Arabia and many other places. It was developed in a business-education partnership between NCC and Crayola LLC., and it meets National Visual Arts Standards.