Early Childhood Education Symposium


As a regional leader in early childhood education, The Summit Country Day School hosts a free community-wide symposium annually featuring national, regional and local experts in childhood learning, health and wellness. Gathering these thought leaders under one roof on the same day allows parents of children from birth to age 10 to quickly learn more about important and timely topics. Each year, a keynote address is followed by breakout sessions. The keynote speech for 2016, 2017 and 2018 has been sponsored by Drs. Renee and Michael Kreeger. As one of a few schools in Greater Cincinnati which offer an academic program for 2-year-olds, The Summit is committed to quality early childhood education and the notion that "Parenting Matters" in that education. CEUs are available for teachers. 

The 2016 Early Childhood Education Symposium experienced a record crowd, prompting registration to be closed early when capacity was reached. Please check back in the fall of 2017 when we announce the speakers for the 10th annual symposium. In the meantime, we leave our 2016 agenda online so visitors and attendees can be reminded of the topics. Review our Resources page for insights provided by past presenters. View our Testimonials page to see what previous participants have said about it.  

2016 Presentations

Keynote Address: The Collapse of Parenting
Presenter: Leonard Sax, MD., Ph.D.

New York Times best-selling author Dr. Leonard Sax, MD., Ph.D., was the keynote speaker at the ninth annual Early Childhood Education Symposium on Saturday, Nov. 5.  His keynote address drew from his latest book, The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups. He also delivered a closing talk, “Why Gender Matters in Early Education,” drawing from his book, Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. A frequent speaker who has made appearances on national television broadcasts such as the TODAY show, CNN and National Public Radio, Dr. Sax is a psychologist and author who has been a practicing physician for 27 years. His undergraduate degree is in biology from MIT. His M.D. and Ph.D. are from the University of Pennsylvania. He has also authored Boys Adrift and Girls on the Edge.

In his keynote address, Dr. Sax presented data that attributes a rise in obesity, depression, anxiety and disrespect in young children to parents who have abdicated their authority. “America’s children are immersed in a culture of disrespect: for parents, teachers and one another,” Dr. Sax writes in an article printed by the Wall Street Journal. “They learn it from television, even on the Disney Channel, where parents are portrayed as clueless, out-of-touch or absent. They learn it from celebrities or the Internet. They learn it from social media. They teach it to one another. They wear T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like “I’m not shy. I just don’t like you.” Dr. Sax explored the decline in parenting and offered hope and help for reasserting authority. “When parents matter more than peers,” he writes, “they can teach right and wrong in a meaningful way … They can educate desire, instilling a longing for higher and better things, in music, in the arts and in one’s own character.”  Learn more at www.leonardsax.com



The Value of Montessori Education: Following the Child’s Innate Curiosity and Playfulness 

Summit Country Day School Montessori Director Kathy Scott and Montessori lead teacher Lauren Guip offered an in-depth exploration of the qualities of a Montessori education that inspire children to think creatively, work hard, play hard and be kind. Lauren and Kathy examined how Montessori teachers cultivate an environment that supports the development of compassion, community, independence, curiosity and innovation, ultimately providing the foundation for lifelong success.

Presenters: Montessori Director Kathy Scott, M.Ed., R.N., and Lead Teacher Lauren Guip, M.Ed.

Mindfulness and Parenting

In this session, Dr. Pat White and her daughter, Dr. Suzie White, discussed mindfulness and how to bring it into you and your children’s life. They reviewed the latest brain-based research on how mindfulness helps us and children. Mindfulness can help us feel happy, healthy, more focused and less stressed. Pat and Suzie will provide tips, practical strategies, resources and activities on how to bring mindfulness to your family.

Presenters: Pat White, Ph.D., and Suzie White, Ph.D., Leadership Scholars

Helping Children Navigate Anxiety:
Strategies for Parents and Caregivers

All children and adults experience anxiety, but how much anxiety is normal? What are the signs to look for? Whether a child is tackling a temporary, developmental phase or a severe anxiety disorder, parents and families can have an enormous impact on helping children navigate anxious feelings. In this session, attendees learned about recognizing different types of anxiety, discover tips for better relating to and parenting children with anxiety and acquire strategies to try at home to lessen anxiety and prevent it from escalating. Research shows that early intervention is important for maximizing positive outcomes, and this session will provide an overview of options and strategies for parents to consider as they navigate the challenges of anxiety affecting their children.

Presenter: Lower School Guidance Counselor Elizabeth Drumm, M.A.

Language and Literacy

Summit Montessori Literacy Specialist Alexis Weaver and Sharon Collins, M.S., CCC-S/LP, explored the development of language as it pertains to literacy. They offered deeper understanding of language development and its milestones from the 2-year-old to the 6-year-old through a close look at how the Montessori environment fosters the skills necessary for reading and writing in the most natural way. 

Presenters: Montessori Literacy Coach Alexis Weaver, M.Ed., and Sharon Collins, M.S., CCC-S/LP

Raising Kids with all Senses in Mind

Learn how to balance out your child's day by integrating sensory experiences that help him or her function better, behave better and get along better with his  or her peers. Walk away with doable ideas that moms and dads can incorporate right into their daily living. 

Presenter: Rachel Lott, occupational therapist, Kids First Sports Center


A Pause for Parenting

Child in Bloom founder Renee Mattson  focused on how adding more PAUSE to your day can help you be more POSITIVE in your parenting. Parents walked away with doable strategies to help teach, model and practice their house rules with their children. They will learn tricks and tools from the world of education that can help them to parent better and more successfully. Renee discussed the pressure that social media, all the parenting theories out there and your own playgroup can put on moms and dads to be "perfect.” Attendees walked away grounded in what means most to them as a parent and ready to PAUSE for parenting and lead your family to more PEACEFUL times.

Presenter: Renee Mattson, M.Ed, founder of Child in Bloom

Using Creativity to Develop Divergent Thinkers

Creativity is linked to one’s ability to engage in divergent thinking. Our economy is transitioning from one built on manufactured goods to an economy based on information and ideas. Rapid evolution of technology means our future workforce will increasingly need innovators and collaborators. Creativity empowers divergent thinkers to diversely apply knowledge and seek novel solutions to problems. We encourage innovative thinking and creativity when we offer children opportunities to take risks. It is important to nurture this in children because creativity is pliable and can be taught. Combining the latest research with engaging media clips, Kathy and Kendra discussed how to cultivate creativity at home and school.

Presenters: Lower School Director Kendra Thornton, Ph.D. and Montessori Director Kathy Scott, M.Ed. 

Managing Screen Time: What Parents Need to Know about Screen Media in Early Childhood

In our fast-paced world, the Internet, video games, smartphones and TV programs are continually competing for consumers’ attention. But what are the effects of screen media on infants, toddlers and young children when it’s exchanged for the natural quality playtime? Brenda Greenert Judd presented her review of the national research on the topic. Judd’s literature review indicates that the saturation of screen media among children – even some as young as infancy – can impact speech and movement (fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination), plus the isolation factor of screen media can affect social development.

Presenter: Brenda Judd, intervention specialist, Clermont County Education Services

Supporting Non-Verbal Needs in a Montessori Classroom

St. Rita School for the Deaf faculty member Eileen Pezzutti looked at how the preschool Montessori environment, materials and philosophy promote effective learning for special needs children and how modifications are used to support and evaluate them. Also, the impact of sign language on early communication for language/speech development, social/emotional and behavioral needs with typical, apraxic and deaf children will be presented. Basic signs were taught. 

Presenter: Eileen Pezzutti, M.Ed., M.A., St. Rita School for the Deaf

High Interest Books to Motivate Young Readers

Presented by a former second grade teacher whose doctoral work revolves around children's literature, particularly informational picture books in the elementary classroom, participants in this session learned about a number of books for readers with varied interests and reading levels from birth to nine years. The books included quality fiction texts, informational picture books, as well as international titles. These texts encourage imagination, teach new knowledge and raise awareness of other cultures.

Presenter: Becca Gasiewicz, Ph.D., adjunct instructor in the early childhood program at UC, owner of Becca's Book Box and Tutoring Services.

Why Gender Matters in Early Education

Presenter: Leonard Sax, MD., Ph.D.
Dr. Sax explored what research says about the biologically different ways in which boys and girls think, feel and act. Addressing a wide range of issues including discipline, risk-taking, aggression and learning, he discussed how boys and girls react in predictable ways to different situations. 


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