I’ve just returned from Monterrey, Mexico where I keynoted the 19th Encuentro Internacional de Educacion Inicial y Preescolar (International Meeting of Initial & Preschool Education). This conference is hosted by the Centro de Desarrollo Infantil or Center for Child Development (CENDI), a network of public educational centers that offers comprehensive services for children in high poverty areas in the Monterrey metropolitan area (and other parts of Mexico), including prenatal care, parent training, preschools, and medical care for all enrolled students.
The conference was attended by 1200 participants and over 60 presenters from Latin America and other parts of the world including Russia, Finland, Iceland, North Korea, and the United Kingdom. The theme of the conference was cognitive and socio-affective learning in early childhood education and play. The focus of my presentation was on play (see the transcript of my paper). Other presentations included ”Childhood Development as the Basis of Sustainable Development,” ”The Adaptable Brain, Creativity, and Resilience,” and ”Learning, Well-Being, Self-Regulation, and Stress During Early Development.”
This was the ninth time that I’ve attended this conference, and each time it is for me a reunion with ”mi familia mexicana” where I’ve come to know and feel affection for the teachers and administrators at CENDI, as well the many presenters I’ve gotten to know from previous CENDI conferences.
CENDI provides an impressive model for early childhood centers in high-risk areas, and has been involved in cooperative studies with researchers at Harvard, Yale, McGill, and numerous international agencies such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). One year the conference included Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, who pioneered research showing a 13 percent per year return on investment (ROI), with the adoption of high quality birth-to-five-years-old programs.
CENDI provides the kind of comprehensive early childhood programming that ought to be adopted across the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Every child deserves to reach their full potential to thrive in the world, and by educating parents in the best ways to engage in infant stimulation, by providing initial and preschool education to toddlers and young children, and by including medical care as part of the whole approach, CENDI is showing the world that it can and does help lift kids out of poverty and into a better way of life. Thank you CENDI for this gift!