Over 120 early years practitioners, educators and policy-makers from across the south west region attended the 6th annual Early Years Conference at South West College (SWC), Omagh, Friday 15th November.
The conference explored the theme, “A mindful child is eager to develop and learn” and provided early years practitioners with information, advice and networking opportunities in the areas of children’s emotional health and well-being to support their decision-making and to enhance the outcomes for children.
Opening the conference, Alastair McCarley (Head of School, Health and Social Care, SWC) said:
“We are delighted this event has become a valuable annual professional development opportunity for employees in the Early Years sector. As a college we take great pride in the quality of the role of early years providers in supporting and developing our students in their work place setting."
A number of workshops addressed pivotal issues including; Supporting children who have experienced adverse childhood experiences; Developing confidence and social relationships through play; Helping children to be aware of behaviours and emotions.
Understanding how emotional well-being can be strengthened or disrupted in early childhood can help practitioners to provide environments and experiences that prevent problems, with minimal adverse effects on the developmental process for the child.
Keynote speaker, Dr Michael Hoy (Director of Social Support Services Ltd) delivered a presentation on understanding childhood trauma and the significance of stable relationships with parents, care-givers, relatives, teachers and peers in the early years to providing a foundation for sound mental health. Michael said:
“Sound mental and emotional well-being in the early years provides a stable foundation that supports all other aspects of human development, from the formation of early friendships to the ability to cope with adversity and achievements in later life.
“Disruptions in this developmental process can impair a child’s capacities for learning and relating to others, many of which could be dramatically reduced if attention was given to improving children’s environments, relationships and experiences in early childhood.”