13th Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development

Dr. Elaine Winick presenting at the 13th Annual Summer Institute.
June 3, 2016
13th Annual Summer Institute

Growing ECE Access and Quality: Opportunities and Challenges

The Summer Institute is an annual collaboration between the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College and the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto. The Institute strives to offer timely information to inform research, policy and practice. As Canada embarks on a new early years strategy, the Institute looks at the conflict between increasing access to early childhood programs while maintaining quality.

Across Canada and around the Globe policymakers are looking to expand children’s access to early childhood education. Join Canadian and International experts as they discuss how states are expanding access while maintaining program quality; balancing the needs of 0-3 year olds with programs for 4-6 year olds; and addressing children’s right to early education with parents need for child care. Plus workshops and poster sessions featuring leading edge approaches to early years practice and policy.

Keynote Speakers

Tove Mogstad Slinde

Chair of the Network on Early Childhood Education and Care, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Tove Mogstad Slinde leads the work on Starting Strong IV, a toolbox to enhance quality in early childhood services. It offers international perspectives and concrete examples to help policy makers, monitoring experts and early childhood professionals develop best practices in policies and programming. Ms. Slinde focuses on the elements that promote quality in early childhood programming including governance, curriculum, staff competencies, research and evaluation and how national policies are implemented at regional and local levels.

Presentation Resources
Tove Mogstad Slinde speaking at the 13th Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development.

Rowena Phair

Education and Skills Directorate, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Rowena Phair leads a new study at the OECD examining children’s early development across social, emotional and cognitive skills. Its findings will assist countries to improve parenting and early childhood programs. Ms. Phair’s work includes the development of inclusion strategies for disadvantaged children, such as migrant and indigenous students.

Presentation Resources
Rowena Phair speaking at the 13th Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development.

Dr. Michel Boivin

Canada Research Chair on Child Social Development

Michel Boivin is a professor in the School of Psychology of Université Laval where he leads a program of research on the biological, psychological and social components of early child development. The program is anchored in large-scale longitudinal studies, including the Quebec Study of Newborn Twins and the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. Dr. Boivin leads the development of INECK, an international network of policymakers, researchers and practitioners committed to bringing the best evidence to policy development.  

Presentation Resources
Dr. Michel Boivin speaking at the 13th Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development.

Association Quebecoise des CPE (AQCPE)

Louis Senecal, President-Director General, and Genevieve Belisle, Deputy Director General and Director

Presentation Resources
Association québecoise des CPE logo


The Abecedarian Approach in a North Winnipeg Community

Presenter: Melanie D’Souza, Research Faculty, School of Health Sciences and Community Services, Red River College

The Abecedarian Approach is an internationally recognized early childhood intervention program focused on vulnerable children from birth to age 5. For the past 40 years it has been the subject of numerous research studies and is regularly cited in child development literature for its long-term health, social and academic outcomes. In February 2012, Red River College, The Government of Manitoba and Manidoo Gi Miini Gonaan (“The Great Spirit is Giving”), embarked on a multifaceted project to bring this intervention to Winnipeg’s North End. This session provides an overview of the project, highlighting the early findings from Manitoba.

Playing for Keeps: The Long-Term Benefits of Play


  • Christine Alden, Program Director, The Lawson Foundation, PhD Candidate, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
  • Gail Bornstein, Evergreen/TDSB Associate, School Ground Design Consultant
  • Carolyn Webber, Director, Early Years Centre, East Antigonish Education Centre, Monastery, Nova Scotia
  • Brenda Simon, Director of Play Programs, Earth Day Canada

Play is the work of early childhood. How and how much young children play influences learning, health and behaviour throughout life. Yet play is controversial, surrounded by debates about whether it belongs in classrooms as it faces ever-increasing restrictions on the playground. This workshop takes a fresh perspective, highlighting innovative approaches to play as central to learning and healthy living.

Toys or Tools? Tablet Applications to Support Early Literacy

Presenters: Dr. Monica McGlynn-Stewart, Faculty, George Brown College, School of Early Childhood, and Dr. Tiffany MacKay Instructional Coach, Peel District School Board

Adding to the debate about children and screen time, findings from an on-going Canadian study examining educators’ experiences and comfort levels using tablets to support children’s oral and visual literacy will be shared. The study employs tablet applications that allow children to take photographs or draw on blank slides and accompany their work with recorded oral explanations. The presenters will share data from educator interviews, classroom observations, and children’s slideshows.

Transformational Leadership and Professional Self-Identity in Early Childhood Education


  • Melanie Dixon, Director Professional Practice, College of Early Childhood Educators
  • Kristine Parsons, RECE, Director of Operations, Owl Child Care Services of Ontario
  • Tonya Millsap, RECE, Program Supervisor, Children's Services, County of Simcoe        
  • Dr. Elaine Winick, Professor, George Brown College, School of Early Childhood
  • Elaine Levy, Vice-President, Family & Neighbourhood Services, WoodGreen, PhD Candidate, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
  • Nicola Morrison, RECE, George Brown College Early Childhood Leadership Intern
  • Daniel Venditti, RECE, George Brown College Early Childhood Leadership Intern

Two important studies on the impact of professional learning: The experiences from the College of Early Childhood Educators’ Leadership Pilot Two project on the role of continuous professional learning, self-reflective practice and communities of practice on leadership capacity, plus a look at how recent public policy changes have influenced the professional identity of Registered Early Childhood Educators. Participants will have an opportunity to provide input into, and add to, the research process and data collection.

Integrating Research, Theory and Practice to Promote Quality in Early Childhood


  • Cynthia Grundmann, Policy Development Officer, City of Toronto, Children’s Services Division
  • Dr. Joel Lopata, Researcher, University of Western Ontario
  • Jane Tousignant, RECE, Program Quality Coordinator, City of Sudbury Children’s Services
  • Laura Urso, RECE, Program Coordinator, City of Sudbury Children’s Services

Ontario’s early year’s pedagogy acknowledges that quality in early childhood settings is all about relationships. Hear about the City of Toronto’s research into quality improvement through program empowerment and the coaching and mentoring efforts of the City of Sudbury that are encouraging practitioners to rethink quality efforts and evaluation as both a means and an end to desired program outcomes.

Equipping ECEs to Discuss the Development of Sexuality in Childhood: In the Classroom and with Families


  • Alice-Simone Balter, Faculty, Early Childhood/Family and Community Social Services, University of Guelph-Humber
  • Adam Davies, PhD Candidate, Curriculum Studies & Teacher Development, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
  • Tricia van Rhijn, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph

Against debates surrounding Ontario’s new Health and Physical Education Curriculum this presentation highlights the need for building professional capacity in the sexual developmental domain in the early years. Researchers identity the gaps in training and identify the need for teaching strategies and building rapport with families.

Early Years Systems Development in the Northwest Territories

Presenters: Shelley Kapraelian, Director, Early Childhood Development, Department of Education, Culture & Employment, Northwest Territories, and Sabrina Broadhead, Aboriginal Health and Wellness, Department of Health, Northwest Territories

The territories face special challenges when developing early childhood programs responsive to the diversity of communities, high levels of vulnerability and the challenging geography of Canada’s far north. The NWT’s early childhood framework and action plan is now in its third year. This presentation shares promising practices and partnerships, the status of early intervention pilots and efforts to improve quality and access across the territory.

Responding to Victims of Trauma in Early Childhood Settings

Presenter: Chelsea Hobbs, Researcher and Trainer, Early Childhood Development Support Services

With the increase in refugee and immigrant families and the growing numbers of children who have witnessed violence, having a trauma informed lens can help build relationships, bridge trust, and open the door for better outcomes. This workshop describes the six main trauma-informed principles outlined in the literature and focuses on how to translate these principles into practice with both children and parents.

Little Kids in Big Schools


  • Denise Stone, Director, Early Years Integration and Community Development, Nova Scotia
  • Nancy Dickieson, Director, Children’s Services, Region of Waterloo, Ontario
  • Tessa Graham, Executive Lead, Provincial Office for the Early Years, British Columbia

Increasingly jurisdictions are using schools to expand access to early childhood education and care but as schools shoulder more responsibility for younger children where does this leave the child care sector? Hear the perspective of jurisdictions managing the transition. The Region of Waterloo formed innovative partnerships with its school boards and children’s service providers. Nova Scotia is documenting its journey as it expands full day preschool and creates early years hubs in its schools. British Columbia’s new Provincial Office of the Early Years coordinates services to improve access, and identifying promising practices of child care in school districts.

Aligning Early Childhood Pedagogy from Preschool to Kindergarten


  • Wenda Dickens, Coordinator, Early Childhood Education Unit, Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning
  • Carolyn Simpson, Director, Early Childhood Development, Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture, Prince Edward Island
  • Marueen Dockendorf, Superintendent of the Early Years, Provincial Office for the Early Years & Ministry of Education, British Columbia

While education and early years programs move ever closer together, what is the lived experience of young children as they transition into school? To what degree are the pedagogical approaches of Kindergarten teachers and early childhood educators aligned? Jurisdictions are paying attention and developing resources to address the discontinuities that young children may experience as they enter school.

Do Neighbourhoods Impact the Quality of Early Childhood Programs?

Presenter: Petr Varmuza, PhD Candidate, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

What impact does social and economic status have on interactions that take place between child care staff and children? A study of 586 licensed preschool programs in 140 Toronto neighbourhoods found a 35% difference in quality depending on program location. This represents the difference between mediocre and good quality care. Results were mitigated by auspice and organizational type with implications for public policy, systems planning and management.

Child Care Rules: New Regulations for Ontario

Presenter: Shannon Fuller, Director, Early Years Policy and Program Branch, Ministry of Education, Ontario

Child care is changing in Ontario. New rules effect private schools, recreation programs and both licensed and unlicensed providers. The first suite of rules took effect in September 2015. Changes to centre care, including new staffing qualifications and changes to group size and child to staff ratios, are under discussion for 2017. This workshop helps operators and practitioners understand the changes.

The Movement for Decent Work: Advocacy & Actions to Influence Policy


  • Susan Garrow-Oliver, Associate Professor, Department of Child Studies & Social Work, Mount Royal University
  • Lyndsay Macdonald, Coordinator, Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario
  • Carolyn Ferns, Public Policy and Government Relations Coordinator, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care
  • Nicki Dublenko, Chair, Alberta Child Care Association
  • Maryann Farebrother, Mount Royal University Pilot Project Coordinator, Early Childhood Curriculum Framework, Alberta

Engaging the early childhood workforce in the movement for decent work and how building professionalism and leadership equips educators to influence public policy.

Themes of Social Justice for Young Children in Applied Research


  • Janet Jamieson, Research Chair, School of Health Sciences and Community Services, Red River College
  • Dr. Susan Wamithi-Gitau, Paediatrician, Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Rabeya Hussein, Early Child Development Consultant

The Science of Early Child Development (SECD) is a knowledge translation and mobilization initiative developed in partnership between Red River College, the University of Toronto and the Aga Khan Development Network. SECD provides training to groups in subSaharan Africa working with children and families affected by HIV/AIDS to provide an evidence-based background which will in turn, improve early childhood program implementation. This session will focus on how a Canadian resource, through close, trusting relationship with partners, can help support social equity for young children by contributing to and building upon existing programs in international contexts. There will also be a discussion about how SECD has been used to support ECD programs for children in marginalized communities in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Award Presentation

This year's ECE Award recipient is Colleen Russell-Rawlins, Executive Director, Early Years Learning & Child Care Leadership Development, Training & Professional Learning, Toronto District School Board. 

Colleen Russell-Rawlins currently leads a dynamic team of early years professionals as the Executive Superintendent of Early Years Learning & Care and Leadership Development in the Toronto District School Board. Colleen is committed to leading change in the early years by engaging practitioners in co-constructing new strategies, pedagogical approaches and ways of working together. She believes that by building partnerships we are better positioned to champion change, advance the implementation of policies and improve access to and the quality of programs available to all children and families. Over the past 25 years, Colleen has served in various capacities such as an Elementary Teacher, Consultant, Student Achievement Officer, Principal and Superintendent. Throughout her career, Colleen has always been advocate for systemic approaches and classroom practices that enable young children to realize their potential, beginning in the early years. Her accomplishment as an educator has been teaching young children to read.

The Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development is presented by: