2017 Conference: Belonging


October 18, 2017


Weeksville Heritage Center

As early childhood educators we are often left out of larger conversations about identity and intersectionality, yet we are fundamentally involved in raising awareness and challenging perceptions and accepted norms for the youngest learners and those who work with them.  This conference is a means of both celebrating and going deeper into this work, broadening our understanding, and being more action-oriented toward creating a more just society and world.

We gathered in Brooklyn for a one-day conference designed to bring together people who love and work with young children, birth to 6 years old, in various capacities. 

The four essential components of young children’s first experiences are belonging (connectedness to others, being valued, and making contributions as part of a group), well-being (physical and mental health and wellness), engagement (being involved, inquiring and focused), and expression (to be heard, as well as to listen). -- via Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years

This year Little Chairs Big Differences Early Childhood Diversity Conference is focusing on the theme of belonging, in its broadest sense. As members of the early childhood education community, we are well aware of the importance of belonging with respect to our young students. It is also an important element of our own professional practice and peer community. In order to build a just community and culture, people must feel that they belong. As a school administrator, who belongs in your schools? As a teacher, who belongs in your classrooms? As a childcare provider, who belongs in your care space?

We gathered on October 18, 2017, in our fifth year of Little Chairs, Big Differences, to create and feel belonging, explore race conscious classrooms and communities, present, listen to and understand voices of us as caregivers and other marginalized groups, create more inclusive environments, advocate for access and affordability, and respond to and prevent violence against people of color, lgbtq, people with disabilities, people in poverty and other marginalized groups. We are awake and know this work of creating a space for belonging begins early so that we can create a better path...not a cradle to prison pipeline, but one of potential and possibility for all of our youngest children.  

This conference is by us, for us.