The community project was inspired by research completed by child development scholars that focused on promoting caregivers as important first teachers and community spaces as important learning environments. Math was selected as the learning prompt topic. Symposia participants collaborated to develop “Math Talk” questions such as “Will this bag hold more peas or potatoes?” to encourage families to talk with their young children about math concepts during grocery shopping trips. Colorful signage was developed by DCM staff to be posted in a community grocery store.
Based on recommendations from a community partner, the Wheaton Ultra Food store was selected as the first pilot location in August 2014. The signage was added to a second Ultra Food store in Downers Grove in November 2014. The management at both Ultra Food stores enthusiastically supported the project and allowed the signage to be posted above produce displays. Both Ultra Foods and DCM advertised “Math Talk” on their Facebook pages.
Symposium 2.0 – January 18, 2014
In addition to confirming their commitment to going ahead with the “engaging signage” project, the Symposium 2.0 community coalition focused on how to support already existing initiatives and how to market them to parents in different ways. Examples of other initiatives included: Bensenville’s Parties in the Park; Home Depot build-a-bird-house events; find-the-hidden-toy at Trader Joe’s; and initiatives already in place in several stores.
The participants also discussed how to support adult learning and the importance of adult/child interaction. Empowering parents, guiding the child, and helping parents to craft questions with a content focus was explored. The goal is to get parents and children engaged. It also was suggested that additional support, such as a volunteer, might be needed at the sign location to engage interaction with families. We also should consider expectant parents in the target audience. Because the region is highly diverse demographically, we must keep cultural sensitivity in mind.
The discussion ended with the idea that the Symposium 2.0 community collaboration would refine the “engaging signage” project; develop a project plan; hold focus groups to get buy-in from communities. It was strongly suggested that whatever is chosen be piloted first to determine outcomes and how success will be measured.
Changing the Learning Environment: A Community Symposium – January 19, 2013
DuPage Children’s Museum is committed to supporting the best learning opportunities for young children based on the latest research. That research tells us that free and guided play-based learning is the most effective kind of learning for young children. It can inspire them not only to learn, but to apply what they know in new situations and to continue to love learning. It can prepare them for school and continue to support them throughout their school years.
We also know that everywhere children go can be a “learning environment” especially when parents, caregivers and teachers are empowered to be their guides. But how do we make that happen?
On Saturday, January 19, 2013, DCM held this community symposium to acquaint thought-leaders in our community with what valid research is really telling us, and to learn from all in attendance how we can work together to make a difference.
To learn more about the Early Learning Research in Action Council (ELRAC), you can contact the Museum’s Director of Early Learning Research & Education, Cynthia Mark-Hummel, at 630-637-8000 ext. 3000.