Small Talks features leaders who share key insights on early childhood education and discuss innovative solutions to early learning issues in Minnesota.

By Kristie Thorson, Communications Specialist

The Small Talks panel

The third Small Talks panel presentation focused around research that indicates children are being expelled from preschool at an alarming rate.  Don’t Expel Me: Social Emotional Strategies for a More Inclusive Child Care Program took place on January 9, 2018, at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul.  During the early morning event, attendees discussed early childhood expulsion, strategies for changing adult behaviors, and the need for a systemic response.

“Many people are really aware of how bad expulsion is, and how detrimental it is to young children in our K-12 system, but the assumption is always that it doesn’t happen in early childhood,” said panelist Cisa Keller, Senior Vice President of Early Childhood Quality Development at Think Small.  “Why would you ever expel three-year-olds?” But Keller went on to share that expulsion happens in early childhood programs at three to four times the rate then it happens in K-12 systems.

Small Talks was held at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul.

“Yale University actually did a study on early childhood programs from all sorts of settings and what they found was that there was a significant amount of implicit bias that was happening with all of the teachers regardless of their race, their gender, or the program setting,” said Keller.

One of the ways Think Small is working to help solve the problem locally is through Project Inclusion, a program for early educators that combines social-emotional classroom training and one-on-one coaching.

Click below to watch a video about Project Inclusion, featuring a local provider and her coach.

“The coach’s role isn’t to help the provider work with one specific child in their program.  Instead, it’s to help the child care provider understand how their behavior and their environment can help foster better social-emotional development for all of the children,” said panelist Candace Yates, Quailty Supports Manager at Think Small.

Another panelist, Angie Goettl, Director of Educational Programs at the Hallie Q. Brown Early Learning Center, shared how staff at her center benefitted from the social-emotional training.

“The relationships staff have built with the children and their parents is so positive and so rewarding.  It has helped the teachers feel confident and proud of what they are doing,” said Goettl.

Finally, Takara Henegar, Associate Program Officer with Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, discussed the importance of funding programs that address these types of critical issues.

“The expertise lives within our community.  The expertise lives with the people up here on the panel who are doing this work every day.  We want to partner along with them to invest in solutions because ultimately the end user is the children, and we want to make sure that all of them who walk through this community have the same opportunities.”

The Small Talks event was moderated by Jonathan Palmer, the Executive Director of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center.

Click below to watch video highlights from the Small Talks event.

Click HERE for a list of resources, and to view a recording of the entire Small Talks event.