The Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) in the Institute of Child Development has received a $1 million grant from the Lynne & Andrew Redleaf Foundation to establish a center that will focus on reflective practice in infant and early childhood mental health.
Reflective practice is a professional development approach that encourages individuals to pay attention to relationships as they examine behavior and their responses to behavior. In the infant and early childhood mental health field, reflective practice asks practitioners to explore how they relate to the children and families they work with, who may be facing multiple challenges and risks. Practitioners engage in reflective practice in partnership with a supervisor or consultant.
The new CEED center will serve as an intellectual home for high-quality, cutting-edge research in reflective practice. It will also disseminate knowledge about reflective practice, help professionals incorporate reflective practice principles into their work, and inform policy dealing with infant and early childhood mental health. The center will be the first of its kind internationally.
“We are grateful to the Lynne & Andrew Redleaf Foundation for their support as we work to impact infant and early childhood programs and providers, both in Minnesota and across the country,” says Christopher Watson, Ph.D., IMH-E®[IV], director of the new center at CEED. “This generous gift will allow CEED to bolster its work in reflective supervision and to better support staff who serve families facing complex challenges. We look forward to carrying out this work in an effort to improve developmental outcomes for infants and young children.”
For the symposium, which was co-hosted by the Minnesota Children’s Museum, ICD faculty and staff presented cutting-edge research on play and discussed why it is critical to child development.
Presentations covered topics including play’s impact on a child’s understanding of math, how play influences the development of executive function, and how the Children’s Theatre Company is incorporating research into a preschool storytelling program. Each presentation was followed by a play-based activity that asked participants to explore what they learned.
Experts from the Minnesota Children’s Museum also provided a sneak peek of their new facility and exhibits, which will open to the public on June 7.
To learn more about why play is critical to learning and child development, read the following articles from Connect, the College of Education and Human Development’s alumni magazine.
A recent article in CE+HD Connect magazine discussed research by the Center for Early Education and Development that is examining the effectiveness of a children’s theater program. The story is one of three articles about play that appear in the magazine’s Spring/Summer 2017 issue.
Early Bridges is a preschool theater arts outreach program developed by the Minneapolis-based Children’s Theatre Company (CTC). Early Bridges aims to build early literacy through interactive storytelling and theater arts.
Through a research collaboration with CTC, CEED evaluates Early Bridges’ impact, such as whether students show improvement in certain areas. CEED also has helped develop new measures and rubrics for the program, which incorporate both theater arts and child development theory.
To learn more about Early Bridges and CEED’s research, read the full story, “Setting the stage for learning,” or register for ICD’s Community Symposium on “The Importance of Play for Learning.” The symposium will take place on May 15 at 8:30 a.m. at the University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center.
The conference, which will take place on Thursday, March 9, will consist of training sessions and workshops that aim to foster a dialogue about how the university can strengthen human research protections. The morning portion of the conference will focus on informed consent, with afternoon sessions covering a variety of topics, including partnering with community members and managing conflicts of interest.
As part of the morning portion of the program, Gunnar is scheduled to moderate a panel at 9:30 a.m. that will discuss frontier issues in seeking pediatric or adolescent assent and parent or guardian permission.
The MEFS is a testing app that early educators can use to measure executive function (EF) and early learning readiness in children. It is the only early learning readiness assessment measuring executive function that can be used with children as young as two years old. The MEFS was developed by Institute of Child Development Professors Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D., and Philip Zelazo, Ph.D., who started Reflection Sciences.
“Executive function skills are vital for children’s school readiness and later achievement, and we now have a way to quickly and validly measure EF against national and local norms,” Carlson says. “We are delighted to be collaborating with CEED, the state’s premier training organization for public and private early education providers, to help others learn to use the MEFS in their organizations.”
“Early educators who are looking for new, effective ways to promote children’s learning and social skills will appreciate the ease of using the MEFS,” says Amy Susman-Stillman, Ph.D., a research associate at CEED. “It provides information about children’s development that no other assessment tool does and makes it simpler to understand a child’s individual needs.”
Beth Menninga, project coordinator at the Center for Early Education and Development, recently received the Evelyn House Award from the Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC).
MnAEYC is a professional association devoted to representing early child care and youth programs across Minnesota. The award honors a current or former MnAEYC member who has made a significant contribution to the lives of young children in Minnesota and to the organization.
Menninga has worked in early childhood education for more than 30 years. In the 1990s, she was statewide coordinator of the Minnesota Infant-Toddler Training Initiative, which increased the quality of infant-toddler care by providing trainers with a high-quality curriculum. Menninga also has created programs, including Words Work! and Numbers Work!, and has co-authored the book, The Thinking Teacher: A Framework for Intentional Teaching in the Early Childhood Classroom (Griffin House, 2016).
“Beth is a longtime member of MnAEYC and has contributed much wisdom to MnAEYC and to the field as a past member of the board,” MnAEYC said. “Most importantly, she sees her work with young children, families and early childhood educators as a commitment to social justice, and has been a tireless advocate, spreading her influence and advancing the field across the state.”