Early Childhood Education
National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development
Early in its history, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recognized the need for a coordinated, cost-effective training system for early childhood educators and administrators. In 1992, with the help of a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, NAEYC launched its first National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development. Since its inception, the National Institute has become an annual event that has grown from a gathering of several hundred people to more than 1600 participants. Those attending the Institute include teacher educators, program directors and administrators, policymakers, principals, researchers, curriculum and instructional coordinators, teacher mentors and coaches, advocates, early childhood specialists in local and state departments of education, and educational consultants and trainers.
The underlying goal of the National Institute is to improve early childhood services by enhancing the quality of professional preparation and training provided for individuals who care for and educate young children from birth through eight years of age. NAEYC’s National Institute is designed to deepen understanding of the expanding early childhood knowledge base, help to develop skills that improve professional preparation and practice, and sharpen the ability to use effective, active learning approaches for adults. Each year, NAEYC’s National Institute focuses on a new theme that represents current trends and relevant topics within the profession. Past themes have included, “The Early Childhood Profession Coming Together,” “Nurturing Leaders through Professional Development,” “Transforming Ideas into Action,” “Building Professional Partnerships,” “Exploring Difference-Building Strengths Together,” and “Learning from Assessment.”
The event is composed of sessions, networking opportunities, cluster groups, and other settings, all of which are planned to include diverse topics and interests. During the Institute, attendees can choose from over one hundred sessions and workshops presented by established leaders within the field. Additionally, interactive learning opportunities allow participants to reflect on the day’s sessions, raise issues, and share their own reactions with colleagues. They also provide the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with individuals who are showcasing effective approaches to professional development, high-quality early childhood programs, and new research.
NAEYC’s National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development provides a unique setting in which one can learn and share with colleagues from across the country and around the world. This environment fosters teamwork, nurtures each individual’s professional development, and encourages future leadership within the field. The event continues to grow and improve, each year challenging the original goals and the changing and unique needs of the profession. For more information on NAEYC and the National Institute, see www.naeyc.org.
Marilou Hyson and Kamilah Martin