Danville Area Community College’s community education division will host the 33rd annual developing child conference, titled Family Connections, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, at the Bremer Conference Center.
The conference, which focuses on caring for and teaching children from infants through second grade, will feature keynote speaker Rosa Milagros Santos Gilbertz, break-out sessions, exhibits, vendors and an “idea room.”
The conference will offer more than 15 workshops during three working sessions, in addition to the keynote address. Two tracks of workshops will be available to choose from: autism track and birth-to-second grade track.
Kelly Alvarez, lead early childhood instructor at DACC and who is the new organizer of the conference, promises this year’s conference will be “more hands-on and exciting.”
“I’ve tried to get more exhibits and displays,” she said.
The conference will appeal to “a variety of people,” Alvarez said, including home day-care providers, elementary school teachers up to second grade, parents and nurses.
“There are so many things online they can do (for training), but what’s great about this is that it’s local,” she said of the conference.
Conference attendees will be eligible to earn up to four hours of Continuing Professional Development Units, Alvarez said.
“Anyone working with children and families, this will benefit them,” she added.
New at this year’s conference is the idea room where College Express students will demonstrate 25 different math and science activities suitable for children up to second grade.
Students in Alvarez’s infant and toddler class will demonstrate infant and toddler sensory ideas, such as infant and toddler massage, also in the idea room.
“I wanted my students involved and reaching out to the community,” she said.
Alvarez said she wanted to make the break times during the conference fun and educational, too, so she organized six book-themed snack bars with the help of her children’s literature students who came up with the themes.
The snack bars — with titles such as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Very Hungry Caterpillar — incorporate book-related foods and activity worksheets to take home.
One of the book-related foods that will be prepared by DACC’s culinary arts students are grapes on a skewer made to look like a caterpillar with frosting eyeballs.
The keynote speaker Santos, an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at University of Illinois, has worked as a preschool teacher, early intervention provider and special educator, both in the Philippines and in the United States.
Santos’ research focuses on young children with disabilities and their families.
Alvarez said some of the topics that will be addressed during the workshop sessions include assessing and diagnosing autism, reducing the risk of SIDS in child care and engaging fathers in the school process.
Door prizes will be given away and other vendors and exhibits will be set up at the conference.
To register online, go to http://www.dacc.edu/cce and click on Developing Child Conference. Type in keyword “conference” and hit “submit.” Answering the questions is not necessary. The cost for the conference is $40, which is payable at the door.