Missouri District Early Childhood Conference

Developing Today's Child

 2023 Missouri District Spring Early Childhood Conference

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace   1 Peter 4:10 ESV

A conference designed for those serving as early childhood educators with children from infant/toddlers to second grade. Directors, teachers, and classroom assistants will especially benefit from this professional development event.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Immanuel Lutheran School
632 Highway N, Wentzville, MO 63385

Registration is $75 per person.
Must register by February 25th.  

7:45-8:45           Registration - Continental Breakfast - Exhibitors and Vendors - *Loose Parts Drop Off

8:45-9:00           Welcome and Opening Devotion

9:00-11:00         The Power of Play in a High-Tech World – Cari Ebert

(2 hr. presentation, with a break for small group discussions)

Young children learn best through playful experiences that are relevant and meaningful to their life, not through worksheets, drill work, flashcards, or screen time. Technology and early academic expectations are creating a new kind of childhood in the 21st century. While change is inevitable from generation to generation, the question we must pose and then answer is this: Is true play worth preserving? In this presentation, Cari challenges parents, caregivers, and early childhood educators to consider the importance of play-based learning for young children with developing brains and bodies.

11:15-12:15       4 Breakout Sessions

  • “A Place of Belonging: Meaningful Spaces for Young Children” with Andrea Lohman, EC Educator
  • “I’m more than a checklist!”: Revealing Each Child’s Potential with Cheryl Haun, EC Consultant
  • “Circle Time with Toddlers - the Highlight of Their Day” with Wendy Wagner, EC Educator
  • “Reclaiming Joy in our Early Childhood Roles!” with Rev. Dr. Darrell Zimmerman, Grace Place Wellness

12:15-1:00         Box Lunches, Exhibitors, Vendors & Loose Parts Exchange

1:15-2:15         Loose Parts Play for the Win! - Cari Ebert

Explore the benefits of offering young learners a variety of materials with no defined purpose to enhance their creativity and imagination during child-directed play. The developmental benefits of loose parts play are numerous and Cari will outline how to get started.  *Loose Parts Exchange  If you would like to participate, please bring 25 same-items in a gallon-sized bag or 25 small same-items in a quart size bag. Drop off your bags at the Registration Table and receive a ticket for the same number of bags you brought to the conference. Loose parts are alluring, beautiful, found objects and materials that children can manipulate, control, and change while they playfully explore & problem solve.

Keynote Presenter: Cari Ebert

 Cari Ebert, M.S., CCC-SLP is a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist in private practice in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1993 and her Master of Science degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1995.

Cari is an early childhood specialist and nationally recognized speaker who gets paid to do what she loves most…TALK!  She has dedicated her career to helping young children achieve their maximum potential with speech, language, and social-emotional development.


Breakout Sessions

101:  A Place of Belonging: Meaningful Spaces for Young Children with Andrea Lohman, EC Consultant

Creating meaningful spaces for children involves not only designing the physical environment, but also the spiritual and social environments. During our time together, we will discuss the importance of intentionally creating these spaces as well as specific strategies to experiment with in your classroom.

Andrea Lohman has taught three/four/five-year-old children at Zion Lutheran School for seven years. She loves creating rich learning environments for children.


102: “I’m more than a checklist!”: Revealing Each Child’s Potential with Cheryl Haun, EC Consultant

Early childhood teachers have known for some time that all learners are variable and that the “average student” simply does not exist. If this is true, how do we design, develop, and deliver early school experiences knowing our learners will have diverse needs and they need to be given options to ensure everyone’s needs are met. Time will be given to explore strategies to teach and enhance each child’s development and learning in the classroom environment.

Cheryl Haun has served as an early childhood teacher and/or administrator in Lutheran schools for 39 years. She strives to remain current in best practice in early childhood education, and to encourage and inspire early childhood teachers to make continuous improvements in their craft. She is blessed to serve as a consultant for the Missouri District and adjunct faculty for Concordia Nebraska.


103: “Circle Time with Toddlers - the Highlight of Their Day” with Wendy Wagner, EC Educator

From learning the importance of the teacher’s consciousness of her own emotional state to hands-on role play the participants will explore the theory and practice behind the social-emotional curriculum, Baby Doll Circle Time.

Wendy Wagner has a bachelor’s degree in Christian Education and worked for nine years in two separate churches. After a 20+ year break to stay home with our three boys God opened the door for her to assist in a Lutheran preschool. From there she has gone on to become a Lead Teacher in a one-year-old classroom during these past five years.


104: “Reclaiming the Joy of Early Childhood Education” with Rev. Dr. Darrell Zimmerman

Service in Lutheran School Ministry can be exciting and richly rewarding. It can also be demanding and stressful. This workshop will help you identify three ways an educator’s lifestyle commonly drains us of the joy of ministry, and the simple, preventive wellness practices that will keep you healthy for a long career of flourishing in ministry.

Rev. Dr. Darrell Zimmerman: After serving as a parish pastor and Lutheran school ministry leader for 30 years, Darrell became Program Director at Grace Place Wellness in 2012. He is the author of “Reclaiming the Joy of a Church Vocation: The Way to Wellness for the Non-Ordained in Church and School Ministry.”

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