The latest Fred Forward Conference
on June 3-5 -- run by the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent College -- drew 160 people from major media companies and early childhood advocacy groups alike. "Just the perfect mix of folks for the discussions," says Rita Catalano, executive director of the Fred Rogers Center. "This was a national conference but it was a great opportunity to showcase the work that is happening in Pittsburgh."
Chief among its topic was the group's “Framework for Quality in Digital Media for Young Children,” two years in the making and still being built. There's so much media out there, but what's worthwhile for the youngest kids, up to 8 years old. Within a month, the Center hopes to take conference-generated ideas and develop them into "a very clear statement of what quality means," says Catalano. Participants also concluded that they need to help create new partnerships among child advocates and kids' media producers and find other opportunities to advance the quality of what's on offer.
Research on the subject, she adds, “is still very new, so we need to keep providing evidence that certain kinds of content, certain uses of content, works for children.” Creators of kids' media, from apps to new television shows, as well as childhood educators, also need new types of professional development.
Keynote speaker at this year's Fred Forward was Jerlean Daniel, executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. “Jerlean reminded us," Catalano says, "that we need to always remember Fred Rogers’ message of always thinking of the children first.”
Advocate for early childhood education through the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Rita Catalano, Fred Rogers Center