We’ve just completed the fourth year of the Oakland Early Learning Symposium! This year, we focused on our core value of upholding justice and every form of necessary inclusion. November’s Symposium topic was “Partnering with Families of Children with Special Needs.” With over 100 participants in attendance, we heard updates from Theresa Lozach, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Special Education and Ben Braun, Regional Center of the East Bay and learned how to connect families to services through First 5 Alameda County’s Help Me Grow program and BANANAS, Inc. Plus, participants had the opportunity to break into small groups with peer facilitators to discuss specific strategies to support children and families.
For three years now, the planning team for the Oakland Early Learning Symposium has come together to create meaningful opportunities for early learning professionals to explore best practices and learn in community. This year, we wanted to continue to support best practices, while also recognizing the unique circumstances of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
At the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, preschool teachers and early childhood education (ECE) providers attending our “Let’s Talk Early Learning” informal Zoom event shared that they were seeing more behavioral challenges than usual as children returned to care and school or started in new ECE settings. Given the weight of these challenges, the planning team wanted to provide Oakland early learning professionals with resources and tools in a way that would be both fun and practical.
The planning team chose the topic of “Fostering Early Social-Emotional Learning through Books” for the first symposium event in November. Through a partnership with Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, we provided all symposium attendees with the opportunity to pick up a bag of children’s books, such as Jabari Jumps and Homemade Love, related to social-emotional learning.
The planning team for the Oakland Early Learning Symposium faced the challenge of 2020-21 similarly to everyone else, by moving one step at a time and doing our best to respond to the needs of those we serve. The result was a series of four online events over the 2020-2021 school year entitled, “Navigating the New Now: Child Care During COVID-19.
Early Learning Symposium 2020-2021, Navigating the New Now: Child Care During Covid-19 Event Summaries
Background on the Early Learning Symposium
The Early Learning Symposium was born out of a collaborative effort that included OUSD, Oakland Literacy Coalition, Oakland Starting Smart and Strong, BANANAS, City of Oakland Head Start/Early Head Start, Alameda County Office of Education, First 5 Alameda County, YMCA of the East Bay, St. Vincent's Day Home, and the New Teacher Center. The inaugural event in 2019 resulted in 350 participants attending. The diversity of participants included teachers, instructional assistants and directors from Head Start and state funded programs, family child care providers, and informal care providers. More detail on the 2019 event here.