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Educators explore Conscious Discipline, neurodiversity, in Childcare Resources workshop

“Neurodiversity, if you take it apart, means brain difference,” said Kristen Balhoff, Conscious Discipline Instructor. “Neurodiversity is the view that all brains have variation, and this is natural.”

Nearly 150 local early childhood educators explored neurodiversity in a recent Childcare Resources professional development workshop. Funded by Indian River County Children’s Services Advisory Committee and PNC, the training opportunity enabled educators to learn how to better support all the students in their classrooms through the use of Conscious Discipline. This was the tenth Conscious Discipline workshop presented by Childcare Resources since 2015.

Women sit around a table at a training event.
Nearly 150 early educators from local childcare centers participated in the training. Pictured, L-R, Stephanie Squires, Valaine Robinet, Sharleen Schutte, Jeni Steele, Heather Tredor, and Brittany Lindsey, all of The Community Church of Vero Beach Preschool.

Conscious Discipline is a classroom-management system that empowers teachers to help children find academic success by using responsive relationships to develop a foundation of connection and security. An adult-first practice, Conscious Discipline emphasizes the importance of teachers modeling the behavior they wish to see in their students.

“In Conscious Discipline, we know that the only person you can change is yourself”, said Balhoff. “We can’t teach the skills we don’t have.”

Three women stand together
(L-R) Childcare Resources Executive Director Shannon McGuire Bowman, presenter Kristen Balhoff, and Program Committee Chair Susan Donovan.

Using experiences from her own parenting journey with Conscious Discipline, Balhoff explored how to support neurodiversity in the classroom by building safety, predictability, and structure. Through the implementation of routines, Conscious Discipline fosters problem-solving skills and emotional learning, which supports academic learning and overall wellbeing for all students.

Four women stand in a group
Childcare Resources Program Committee members Karla Spooner, Susan Donovan, Pam Barr, and Claudia McNulty assist with attendee check-in and other aspects of the workshop.

“I learned so many facts about neurodiversity,” said Cathryn, a local elementary school teacher in attendance. “The strategies to help children in the classroom would be beneficial for all students.”


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