Toe tappin’ tunes for toddlers found at Chicago education conference

This year’s Opening Minds Conference was a sight to behold. About 5,000 early childhood professionals came together for four days’ worth of workshops, seminars and focus groups.

I fell head over heels for one in particular.

‘Toe Tappin Toddler Tunes’ by Carol Stephens (formerly Peterson) was an interactive 90-minute workshop on how to use music to help teach toddlers.

I’m a mother of four. I’ve been fully through the toddler stage twice and I’m actively going through a toddler stage with my twin children. Everything that Carole shared with us was so in tune with behavior that I have seen at home and within the school system in general.

You see, I’m a bit of an unorthodox person. I homeschool my three young children, while I send my oldest to public school. It just kind of worked out that way, and I like it. At this conference I was welcomed and informed just like the educator that I am.

One of the activities that we worked on was making sure that children are moving enough to help foster great gross motor skills and to nourish their brains. It was a point that she made with each and every song. Given that I’ve seen several teachers and educators move whenever they sing, I didn’t realize that it was a developmental tactic.

Wait. Let me try to explain.

I KNEW that it was a developmental tactic, just not as deep as it is. It goes much deeper than making sure that your toddler gets enough movement, it’s all about making sure that their little brains are moving around and soaking up nutrients. Seriously.

I’m overwhelmed at how much information she packed into those 90 minutes AND the amount of information that was available over a four-day period in general. So many sessions were taking place simultaneously that it was hard to choose which ones to attend.

Another highlight of the conference was the expo hall. Between eco-conscious classroom furniture to books, it was an educator’s dream. Knowing full well that education begins at home and is fostered between parents, teachers, librarians, social workers and other workers in the field, the expo hall had something for everyone.

I would definitely love to visit the conference again when it comes back in 2015, but until then I look forward to creating beautiful music with the two toddlers that live in my house.

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