Date: 07-06-2019

ISSA Conference Welcomes more Exciting Speakers

Under the theme Nurturing Environments, ISSA Conference 2019 participants will investigate how to best support young children in their development, in various settings where they live, play, grow and learn. Over the two days, more than 200 presenters from around the world will lead more than 100 concurrent sessions.

The Conference Program combines the knowledge of researchers, practitioners, policy makers, parents and NGOs to explore these topics through insightful discussions and interactive sessions. More than 400 participants will discuss, share and learn on three main areas:

  • Nurturing home environments for young children
  • Nurturing environments in services for young children
  • Nurturing environments for young children and families in their communities/cities

This year’s Conference has an additional celebratory aspect. This year marks the 20th Anniversary of ISSA – the International Step by Step Association, as well as the 25th Anniversary of the Step by Step Program, the flagship early childhood education program of the Open Society Foundations that inspired ISSA’s establishment and upon which ISSA, with its growing network of members, continues to build.

Following the successful ISSA Conference 2017 hosted with the City of Ghent, Belgium, the 2019 edition partners with the City of Leiden and Leiden University. Leiden Mayor Henri Lenferink will speak at the Welcome Reception on 17 June. Lieve De Bosscher from the City of Ghent and Prof. Kristiaan van der Heijden, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Leiden University, will also join the ceremony. H. R. H. Princess Laurentien will address participants during the Opening Session on the morning of June 18, alongside Alderman Marleen Damen and Alderman Paul Dirkse.

In addition to several high-level guests, the ISSA Conference is privileged to have outstanding Keynote Speakers this year. Prof. Paul Leseman, Head of Department Social and Behavioral Science at Utrecht University, will deliver a keynote speech entitled “Value-based regulation of early childhood education and care for equity and inclusiveness.”

Linking to the two important anniversaries that are celebrated this year, Dr. Sarah Klaus, Director of the Early Childhood Program at the Open Society Foundations, will also deliver a keynote address. Her speech “20/20 Vision: The Early Childhood Development Field in Focus. Assessing the Past and Anticipating the Future” will challenge participants to answer the question: Where am I in this movement and what role do I play in its future?

Michael Feigelson, Executive Director of Bernard van Leer Foundation, will facilitate an interactive plenary session featuring a Virtual Reality experience. Mr. Feigelson’s keynote “If you could experience the city from 95cm, what would you change?” will provide participants with an opportunity to view a city from the perspective of a three-year-old child and challenge participants to consider how they can work alongside professionals in other fields to improve cities for young children and their families.

The Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Early Childhood Matters, a key publication in the early childhood development field, will launch its 2019 edition at the ISSA Conference. The publication comprises a broad range of perspectives, research results and inspiring practices from across the globe. To mark the launch, internationally-acclaimed early childhood expert Joan Lombardi, guest-editor of this year’s edition, will moderate a plenary panel discussion featuring authors of some of the publication’s articles.

Among other highlights, there will be a photo exhibit, offered in partnership with Bernard van Leer Foundation, Through My Eyes: a collection of images showing a day in the life of a frontline worker in services for young children from around the world.

Participants in the Conference will have the opportunity to choose from a rich offer of 9 parallel Pre-Conference Workshops organized on June 17, in order to dive deeper on selected topics related to the Conference theme. The workshops are led by prominent experts from around the world, among them: Prof. Frank Oberklaid, Foundation Director of the Centre for Community Child Health at The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne Australia.

After the Conference, on June 20, interested Conference participants will join Site Visits: 15 centers in Leiden will open their doors to offer visitors insights into the city’s diverse services for young children: playgroups, childcare centers and other facilities for parents and children.   

For a few days this June, Rembrandt’s Leiden will become the Capital of Early Childhood!

Learn more, and find out how to register, here. Still not sure if you’ll attend the ISSA Conference 2019, Get in touch to ask a question. And, stay tuned. We’ll be sharing more details on what your peers have prepared for you during all the parallel sessions and plenaries!