Spring Symposium
What “School” Means for Toddlers and Two-Year-Olds


“School” for toddlers and two years olds, while increasingly common, is a relatively new phenomenon. As more schools begin to offer programs for younger children, they are often modeled after those for older preschool children but on a (literally) smaller scale. In this symposium, we seek to build an understanding of school for toddlers and twos that honors who they are and how they learn in this particular and fleeting moment of their lives. What might a learning environment that builds on the strengths and perspectives of toddlers and two-year-olds look, sound and feel like? If we venture to take a step closer and imagine through the eyes of people who are relatively new to the world, we may begin to understand how to re-envision the possibilities of school for our youngest students.

Join us in this special symposium, featuring a keynote address by Tovah Klein, Ph.D, Director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development, Associate Professor of Psychology and author of How Toddlers Thrive. Presentations by teachers from Blue School, Beginnings Nursery School, and Educational Alliance Preschool will highlight ways in which educators can think about curriculum, family engagement, documentation, and materials. The afternoon session will be a continuation of the conversation with a discussion focusing on ‘separation’ led by Laura Araman, a Developmental Therapist at the New York Center for Child Development.

What “School” Means
for Toddlers and Two-Year-Olds

General Public
Morning Only = $35 | Morning + Afternoon = $40
Morning Only = $20 | Morning + Afternoon = $25
Morning Only = $10 |Morning + Afternoon = $15

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TBS Symposium Sponsored By

  Brotherhood Synagogue

Brotherhood Synagogue

  Blue School

Blue School

  Beginnings Nursery School

Beginnings Nursery School


Symposium Program
Thursday, April 19th 2018

Brotherhood Synagogue
28 Gramercy Park South, New York City
9:00am – 12:30pm
Beginnings Nursery School
130 East 16th Street, New York City
1:30 – 3:00pm

  • 9:00 – 9:15 Check-in at Brotherhood Synagogue
  • 9:15 – 10:15 Keynote Address, Tovah Klein, Ph.D.
  • 10:15 – 10:30 Break with light refreshments
  • 10:30 – 11:15 Presentation #1: Looking at Curriculum and Separation Through the Lens of Materials
  • 11:15 – 11:30 Break with light refreshments
  • 11:30 – 12:15 Presentation #2: How Curriculum Emerges in Toddlers and Twos Classrooms
  • 12:30 – 1:30 Lunch Break (enjoy lunch on your own)
  • 1:30– 1:45 Check-in at Beginnings Nursery School
  • 1:45 – 2:45 Presentation #3: Separation and Small Strategies to Support Young Children
  • 2:45 – 3:00 Final Reflection

Presentation #1: Looking at Curriculum and Separation Through the Lens of Materials

Mónica Palma and Karen Zippler present Blue School’s 2s program which was originally conceived as a materials lab for our youngest learners to explore their world. This presentation examines the role of materials in a 2s curriculum in which children explore physical, emotional, and conceptual boundaries through their interactions with classmates and their environment.

We’ll look at the cognitive and social learning embedded in a range of materials such as clay, drawing, and blocks, as well as examine common themes that emerge in children’s play such as transportation, dinosaurs and food. We’ll explore what lies beneath these common interests and how to respond in meaningful ways in order to build an emergent, materials-rich curriculum for 2-year-olds, and will share our favorite resources - books, supplies and blogs as a source of inspiration for educators and parents.

Presentation #2: "Let's Go!" How Neighborhood Explorations Build Community in a Toddler Classroom

Jennifer Gersch from Beginnings Nursery School and Jessica Bieber from Educational Alliance will share stories of relationships and community-building from their toddler classrooms. Though at different schools, Jennifer and Jessica found that similar explorations were happening simultaneously in their classrooms. Toddlers and two-year-old children were extremely interested in the world beyond their schools, in the intricate landscape of New York City. Farmers' markets, barber poles, statues, and sidewalks took on new importance, and eventually evolved as curriculum threads. Seeing the city from a toddler's point of view offered teachers and parents new insights about the importance of community, while strengthening their relationships with one another. Using these own classroom examples and stories, Jennifer and Jessica will support participants in thinking about how curriculum emerges in a toddlers and twos class – sometimes beyond the doors of the school. 

Presentation #3: Separation and Small Strategies to Support Young Children

Laura Araman Laura Araman will present on the life-long, individualized process of separation, and how it presents itself through the play of children throughout the year. Since separation is continually on the mind of children, we will discuss how children demonstrate what they are working through, in addition to ways that we can support their learning. We will discuss play ideas, themes and materials to have available for children in order to individualize the process for parents and children, and strategies that educators and parents can employ to support children as they make adjustments to school.