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.

Thanks to all who attended the 10th annual symposium in 2017. We hope you come back next year. In the meantime, we leave the 2017 program posted to show the kind of programming we have every year. Check back next year for details on the 2018 speakers.

2017 Keynote Address

This year, the 10th annual symposium will be on Saturday, Oct. 28. Nationally known author and psychologist Michele Borba, Ph.D. returns to The Summit to deliver the keynote address. Dr. Borba has spoken to more than a million workshop participants around the world and authored 24 parenting books. She is an NBC contributor and has appeared 135 times on the Today Show. She’s also been featured on Dateline, Anderson Cooper, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, The View, NBC Nightly NewsThe Early Show, CNN and others.

She is an in-demand motivational speaker and former classroom teacher. At The Summit, she will present “Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All About Me World.” Her latest book, UnSelfie, explores research that shows why developing empathy is a key predictor to help kids succeed in our global, digital-driven world.

The Early Childhood Education Symposium keynote speech for 2016, 2017 and 2018 has been sponsored by Drs. Renee and Michael Kreeger. 

Parenting Matters

An extension of the Early Childhood Education Symposium is our Parenting Matters blog. Find timely topics of interest to parents and advice from our experts. 

As one of a few schools in Greater Cincinnati which offer an academic program for children as young as 18 months, The Summit is committed to quality early childhood education and the notion that "Parenting Matters" in that education. CEUs are available for teachers. 

Keynote Address

Of course, we want our kids to be successful and happy, but stirring new research says we may be missing what matters most in helping kids thrive: empathy! Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were just a generation ago; narcissism has increased 58 percent. But empathy can be cultivated in children, starting even before they can talk, and you’ll learn compelling research that explains how to impart this key skill to our kids. Culled from 30 years of research and traveling the world to find the best solutions, Dr. Borba shares why empathy is a skill that’s vital for children’s mental health, resilience, leadership skills and job success, and inspiring stories of successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous and resilient (and how their parents helped raise them).

Workshop Sessions

In addition to the keynote address and Dr. Borba's noon address, parents may attend two workshops from the list below.

10 a.m. Session Block 1

More Curious, Intelligent & Intense:
How Do We Parent or Teach a Gifted Child? 

Renee Mattson M.Ed. is a teaching professor and field coordinator for Special Education Programs at Xavier University's School of Education. Ms. Mattson is also a parent coach serving families around the Cincinnati area for the past five years through her company Child in Bloom LLC. She is a licensed intervention specialist for learning disabilities and gifted education and master parent coach trained through a research based early intervention program, The Family Infant Preschool Program in North Carolina. In this talk, Ms. Mattson will share positive behavior support ideas that will help you work through the Big Whammy behaviors that show forth when you parent or teach a gifted child.   

Helping Young Children Cope with Anxiety

Dr. Kathy Ferguson, child psychologist from the Family Success Consortium, will provide parents with some practical tools that will enable them to recognize when their child is anxious or overwhelmed by stress and how to intervene to help their young children manage anxiety in a healthy manner. Topics to be addressed include recognizing what anxiety looks like at different ages, common causes of anxiety, when worry crosses the line into an anxiety disorder and parenting strategies that can exacerbate or decrease anxiety in kids.

Raising and Teaching Our Young Children to Be Inclusive

Dr. Kathleen G. Winterman Ed.D., early childhood intervention specialist, associate professor, and director of Special Education Programs at Xavier University, will talk to parents and teachers about how we can teach, model and practice inclusion skills with young children. She will share a few great children's books that cover these important playground and life lessons. Through her talk, parents and teachers will learn specific ways to embed inclusive social skill training into day to day life at home and school. 

Music: For Your Child’s Mind, Body and Soul

Donna Doran, Lower School faculty member from The Summit Country Day School, will present the latest research in early childhood development that supports the idea that early music education has a lifelong impact on your child and his or her cognitive and physical development. These benefits can continue throughout your child’s elementary school years through formal music instruction. Come learn more about this research and experience music and movement activities that you can do with your young child so that you can bring the joy and benefits of music home with you today.

Montessori Literacy: A Look at the Foundation of Literacy Skills

As parents and educators, we are aware that a child’s very early experiences set the stage for development of literacy. We also know that learning to read and write is critical to a child’s success in school. Please join us as The Summit’s Lower School/Montessori Literacy Teacher, Alexis Weaver, explores the development of language as it pertains to literacy. We will deepen our understanding of how we develop language skills through a close look at the Montessori environment and its natural way of cultivating the skills necessary for reading and writing. 

11 a.m. Session Block 2

Nurturing Your Child's Spirituality

Why is it so important to provide a rich foundation for your child’s spirituality at a young age?  How do you create this richness in your child’s daily life? This session will be presented by Suzanne McHugh, who has developed a passion for children’s spirituality throughout decades as a catechist, writer and mother of four children. She will provide inspiration and practical ideas for parents and educators who want to be more aware of their child’s spirituality and be more deliberate in nurturing it in their homes and classrooms.

Hands-on Activities Building Creativity and Resilience

In this hands-on session, we will practice activities that encourage creativity, learn to ask questions to stimulate curiosity and wonder, and build resilience through trial and error. Each activity, will include role-play discussions and questions. This session will be led by Michelle Sullivan, The Summit Country Day School’s, Lower School Math Coach, STEM teacher and Coordinator of the Exploratarium, an on campus student directed space that evolves organically based on the use and interests of the students. She will be joined by a Summit fourth grader, Elizabeth Klocek and Summit seventh grader, Owen McEachern who will share their experiences and lead participants through creative problem solving exercises. Student volunteers will share their experiences and important things they have learned about the importance of messiness and failure to building creativity and resilience. Priya Klocek, Summit parent and national presenter on Creativity and Problem Solving, will also discuss practical tips and strategies for implementing creative thinking at home.

The Montessori Environment in the Classroom and in the Home

Montessori education has been around for more than a century. Remarkably, updated brain research supports the Montessori philosophy and methodology. In this session we will include a brief overview of the Montessori philosophy, classroom activities from each content area that define the method, along with ideas and examples of how to bring Montessori into the home. Led by Montessori teachers Karen Koch, Amie Adkins and Lauren Guip, the presentation will include photographs of the environment and how it can be created in your home. Summit Montessori faculty members will present Montessori materials from the 18-month to 6-year-old classroom to illustrate the methodology.   

Mindful Eating With Children

The attitudes we project on our environment and even ourselves are directly influenced by the connection or relationship we have to food. As we study the origin of health and gratification, we recognize that mindful eating, as a practice, can create a consciousness of our inner drives, feelings, views and actions. Dr. Carina Braeutigam, medical director for Integrative Care at Cincinnati Children's, will present this workshop on how mindfulness can look like when it comes to mealtimes and how it can be incorporated every day even with young children. It will provide some practical tips for an immediate kick start into the journey of mindful eating.

Screen Time vs. Free Play

Are you concerned with the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen playing on a phone, iPad or other electronic devices? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently changed its recommendation of on-screen time for young children. Intended to inform and be a resource for parents, Kathy Scott, Montessori School director from The Summit Country Day School, will examine the rationale behind this decision based on child development, current evidence of the effects on brain development and recommendations how to follow the AAP guidelines. Mrs. Scott will provide parents with suggestions to help establish a healthy balance between technology and free play for your child. 

Noon Closing Session

Tools for Constructing Good Behavior, Strong Character and Resilience in Children

Dr. Borba will close the symposium with a noon session that will help parents understand the proven traits that best determine academic and personal success (emotional literacy, moral identity, perspective-taking, collaboration, courage, kindness and imagination), and recognize that they are all teachable. Dr. Borba will provide the roadmap to help improve a child’s behavior, self-esteem, character, attitude and resilience in school and at home. You will leave with fresh ideas and practical strategies that will change the way you parent. Examples from parents who used these ideas successfully and practical, instant ways to nurture the traits that matter most in our children’s lives will be shared with heart-warming stories and easy-to-implement techniques. She’ll share a nine-step plan to raise successful, happy kids who are also kind, moral, courageous and resilient. You’ll learn that our exclusive focus on grades, scores and fat resumes is destructive to children’s mental health and robbing their potential to lead a happy and fulfilling life. By putting these habits at the core, we’ll raise children that become the citizens we hope they’ll be. Based on Dr. Borba’s best-selling book, UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About Me World, here is how to raise our kids to have solid character, strong minds and caring hearts!