Gender, Sexuality, and the Family: Fall Trainings

A recent article in the New York Times discussed a gender expansive 5-year-old boy that illustrated some of the challenges that both families and educators can encounter when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality with young children. During the preschool years, children are beginning to develop their understandings of gender, sexuality, and family. The Institute is committed to providing educators and professionals with high-quality professional development on how to explore these concepts with young children in curriculum and pedagogy. We are also committed to supporting parents and family members to confidently address these topics with their children in empowering, accurate, and developmentally appropriate ways.

This fall, the Institute is offering another series of workshops on “Gender, Sexuality, and the Family” for early childhood educators. The workshops are designed to spark discussion, facilitate the creation of shared language, and provide educators with the resources needed to make their classrooms supportive spaces for the development and exploration of identity.

The set of workshops for early childhood educators and professionals will begin on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, October 17th from 5:30pm-8:30pm

Session 1: Gender Development, Expression and Play 

  • Tuesday, November 28th from 5:30pm-8:30pm

Session 2: Bodies, Curiosity and Touching

  • Tuesday, December 12th from 5:30pm-8:30pm

Session 3: Including All Families and Supporting All Children

Sessions can be attended as a series or individually. You can find more information about the workshops on our website and register for the sessions by clicking on the links above.

Gender, Sexuality and the Family Workshop Series

During the preschool years, children are beginning to develop their understandings of gender, sexuality, and family. As children discover these concepts, there is little opportunity for early childhood educators and families to talk about the questions and behaviors that come up in their classrooms and homes. The Institute is committed to providing educators, professionals, parents, and family members with the opportunity to explore these questions, gain new resources, and collaboratively develop strategies for working with young children.

The Institute is offering another series of workshops on “Gender, Sexuality, and the Family” designed to spark discussion, facilitate the creation of shared language, and provide educators and families with the resources they need to make their classrooms and homes supportive spaces for the development and exploration of identity. The set of workshops for early childhood educators and professionals will begin on the following dates:

  • Monday, June 19th from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm
  • Saturday, July 22nd from 9:30 am-12:30 pm
  • Saturday, August 19th from 9:30-12:30 pm

The workshops can be attended as a series of three or individually. Learn more and RSVP here.

Gender, Sexuality, and Family in Early Childhood Education

workshop-gsf-noctaGender and sexuality are often considered topics exclusively for adults, or at least for teens or pre-teens. But early childhood classrooms are rife with questions, interactions, and play that address and present opportunities to explore children’s and families’ ideas about bodies, identities, and relationships.

In the dramatic play corner: “You can’t play. You’re a boy and we’re playing princesses.”

In the bathroom: “I have a wee-wee. Why doesn’t she have anything there?”

In circle time: “You have to have a daddy. Everybody has a daddy.”

During pick-up: “Go hug your teacher goodbye.” “I don’t want to.”

During nap-time: “But it feels nice!” (says a masturbating child to an alarmed new teacher)

While often undiscussed by grown-ups, children are busy exploring their bodies: touching themselves during nap-time, watching other children use the bathroom, playing “doctor” during dramatic play. Young children are also engaging with, contesting, and internalizing gender stereotypes. Colors, toys, play, and families are all terrains on which gender lines are drawn and redrawn. Who can play what role, play with what toy, wear what item of clothing, or be a family are frequent topics for debate, and pose situations in which early childhood classrooms can become spaces where gender norms are further entrenched or, alternatively, where children develop a more expansive conception of identity.

Read more…

NEW Series for Educators and Families on Gender, Sexuality, and the Family in Early Childhood Education

Dear Early Childhood Educators,

We at the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute (PDI) are excited to announce the launch of a new series which combines our workshops for educators on gender and sexuality with newly designed workshops for parents and families. Our hope is to run this series of five workshops (three for educators and two for parents and families) at individual schools and programs. In doing so, we can include all members of a school community – educators as well as family members – in these important discussions of gender, sexuality, and family.

Visit the program page for more information

If you are interested in bringing this series to your school or program, please get in touch! You can contact me via email at or by phone at 646-265-2044. In addition, please feel free to post these materials or to forward them to your director or anyone else you think may be interested.


Katie Schaffer

NYAEYC Annual Conference

On April 19th, the New York Association for the Education of Young Children (NYAEYC) will hold their annual 3-day conference. The conference will include various educational workshops, exhibit tables, and presentations, including some by Institute staff. This year’s presentations from our team are below. For more information about the conference, click here. We hope to see you there!

Pre-Conference, Thursday, April 19th 

Training of Trainers: The Aspire Registry for New York’s Early Childhood Workforce (invitation only)

Diana Diaz and Louisa Higgins


Friday, April 20th

A Town Hall Meeting of the Governor's ECAC

Sherry Cleary and Patty Persell

Learning Communities: A Good Place to Foster Continuous Quality Improvement

Sara Lamaoreaux

Relationship Based Coaching

Sarah Longwell Stevens

Inspiration from Librarians: Storytime  as a Family Engagement Experience

Helen Frazier

Read more…

The IFCC Project March Newsletter


The Informal Family Child Care (IFCC) Project team has released their March newsletter. The newsletter includes the latest IFCC Project news and events. The newsletter also features an article about gender identity and development in young children.

To read the March newsletter, click here: IFCC March 2016-Connections in Early Learning newsletter 

Early Education News Roundup: March 13th Edition

Happy Friday to all! Here are our top picks for early childhood education news in New York this week! Enjoy!

'Nature-Based' Preschool to Open on LES With Outdoor Forest ClassroomDNAinfo

A new Manhattan preschool set to open later this year will include a 3,500-square-foot outdoor space with a classroom, garden and climbing boulders.

Gender Gap in Education Cuts Both WaysNew York Times

Eduardo Porter: The 'most troubling imbalance' in a new report on the achievement gap between boys and girls is that of less-educated student groups: Six of 10 underachievers are boys, including 15 percent who are American boys compared with 9 percent American girls.

Assembly Budget: Mayoral Control Until 2022, Adds $1.8B, Scraps Cuomo’s ED Proposals – Chalkbeat NY

Assembly Democrats have put forth a budget proposal that adds $1.8 billion to the state’s schools outlay and scraps the education-policy proposals made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Mayor de Blasio Is Quietly Soliciting Donations for Future Policy Battles – New York Times

Mayor Bill de Blasio is working to amass a "financial war chest" to help fight for his policy ideas, including getting more state funding for schools.

-Slow-Motion de Blasio on School Fixes – Daily News

Editorial: The fact that some schools in the city's turnaround program are waiting for specific help, and that it's unclear when schools will get an extra hour of instructional time, as Chalkbeat reported last week, means the de Blasio administration is not moving fast enough.

Lovett: Bill de Blasio and Syracuse Mayor Forge Alliance to Push Andrew Cuomo on Education Funds – Daily News

Mayor de Blasio will release a joint statement with Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner calling on the governor to increase education spending; funds they say could be used to enact "meaningful reform."

Preachers Back Cuomo’s Education Reform Plan – New York Post

A contingent of influential black preachers is planning to spend the month pushing Gov. Cuomo's education-policy plans, saying it's part of their mission of helping the disaffected to fight "educational injustice."

Equity and Excellence in the Earliest Years, from Administration for Children & Families

Equity and Excellence in the Earliest Years: Action on Expulsion and Suspension in Early Childhood Settings

By Shantel Meek, PhD, Policy Advisor for Early Childhood Development

Psychologists, neuroscientists and economists alike agree: The beginning years of any child’s life are critical for building the early foundation of health and wellness needed for success in school and later in life. As a community, we hold the responsibility of ensuring that children’s earliest experiences always foster- and never harm- their development, particularly during this highly sensitive and formative period.

But what happens when 3- and 4- year olds go through the negative and stressful experience of being expelled from preschool? Recent data indicate that expulsions and suspensions occur at high rates in preschool settings, by some estimates, at even higher rates than in K12 school settings, an alarming statistic given that school expulsion and suspension are associated with negative educational and life outcomes, according to a well-established body of research. In addition, stark racial and gender disparities exist in these practices, with young boys of color being suspended and expelled much more frequently than other children. These troubling trends warrant immediate attention and partnership between researchers, clinicians, teachers, families, and policy makers at all levels.

Last week, the President and his Administration hosted the White House Summit on Early Education, which brought together federal, state, and local policymakers, mayors, school superintendents, corporate and community leaders, and advocates to highlight efforts across the country to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for our youngest learners. The Summit signaled collective action across sectors, and across America, in a variety of areas in early childhood education.

The day included a robust breakout session on equity and excellence in the earliest years, which discussed issues of expulsion and suspension policies, racial disparities, culturally and linguistically responsive practices, social-emotional and behavioral health, and enhancing preparation and development of the early childhood workforce. The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education announced the release of a joint policy statement on expulsion and suspension practices in early learning settings, complete with a set of recommendations that if implemented, may help make headway on the issue.

The recommendations include:

  • Developing and clearly communicating preventive guidance and discipline practices
  • Developing and clearly communicating expulsion and suspension policies and implementing those policies uniformly and without bias
  • Investing and continuously growing the skills of the early childhood workforce focusing on children’s social-emotional and behavioral health, strengthening partnerships with families, employing strategies to prevent and correct implicit or explicit biases, and conducting universal developmental and behavioral screening and appropriate follow-up
  • Setting goals and analyzing trends in data to assess progress in reducing expulsion and suspensions
  • Making use of free resources to enhance staff training and strengthen family partnerships

In addition, HHS announced over $4 million in investments to support preventive and intervention practices, including early childhood mental health consultation, a capacity-building practice for early learning teachers and families, with demonstrated effectiveness in reducing and preventing expulsions and suspensions.

Partners outside government also made several key commitments in this space. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that they will release a policy statement on evidence-based early childhood social-emotional interventions, which will mobilize pediatricians around the country to strengthen the social-emotional and behavioral health of our youngest children. The Irving Harris Foundation announced a $3.5 million commitment to extend new support to the 15 U.S. based programs in the Harris Professional Development Network, a network of 18 early childhood and infant mental health leadership sites located in 10 States, DC, and Israel. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation committed $11 million, in part, to support the integration of child development, social and emotional skills building, and health supports within early care and education settings, at the national and local level.

Combined, these policy statements and investments will help bring us closer to eliminating expulsion and suspension practices in early childhood programs, but they will not get us all the way there. They are a first set of steps. To fully address these issues we need more longitudinal research to inform and strengthen intervention; we need policymakers at every level to step up and establish fair policies and make strong investments to enhance the quality of early learning programs; and we need stronger partnerships between early childhood programs, families, and the communities in which they live, including with pediatricians, mental health professionals, and education leaders.

The truest test of our economic and social longevity as a nation lies in the foundation that we set in our youngest children. We cannot afford- morally or financially- to exclude children from the high quality early learning experiences we know set them and our country up for success and a bright future. This issue warrants an all-hands-on-deck approach. Let’s get to work.

This blog post may be found on The Family Room section of the ACF website: View Link Here