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BrightStars, Rhode Island’s Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement system, assists families in finding care and recognizes and supports quality in early care and education programs.

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RI Attends the National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development

Rhode Island AEYC/BrightStars Executive Director, Lisa Hildebrand, members of the Rhode Island AEYC board, and four Rhode Island AEYC/BrightStars staff members attended the National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development in Baltimore, Maryland.

Over the course of four days, participants had the opportunity to attend presentations by speakers from across the country whose work focuses on advocacy, policy, and child development. All of the sessions were connected to this year’s theme, “Early Learning at the Top of the Ticket.” Rhode Island AEYC/BrightStars board and staff had the opportunity to connect with early childhood professionals to celebrate the work in our field and develop plans to advocate across the political spectrum. In addition to the staff’s valuable learning, Lisa Hildebrand and the Rhode Island AEYC Board President, Chris Amirault, were able to share the hard work that Rhode Island has done throughout the state to align the Early Childhood field.

The session, “Being an Advocate for What’s Right for Children: Saving Play in Early Childhood Education” presented by Thomas Rendon of the Iowa Department of Education and Gaye Gronlund of ECE Consulting, was particularly interesting and reinforced the importance of advocating for play in our classrooms. The presenters stated that “there is a false dichotomy that suggests play and academics are two separate entities.” This is not the case, as play and standards can fit together. Several states across the country, such as New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Carolina, have been investigating the benefits of play curriculum in ECE classrooms. This movement is countering the push down of academic based learning while encouraging hands-on, high level, beneficial plan as a means of learning. Rendon noted that “if you find the right kind of play for each child, they can be engaged for hours.”

Our experience at NAEYC’s Professional Development Institute has given us the tools and strategies to further assist Rhode Island’s child care programs improve their overall quality.  We are prepared to advocate for early childhood education at the federal and state level, and we’ll make sure early learning is at the top of the ticket!

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