A group of pre-school teachers got in touch with their inner child while learning about new curricular standards during a recent child development course at West Virginia University .

The three-credit-hour course,”Content Standards: Curriculum and Assessment,”was led by Bobbie Warash, professor of child development and family studies in WVU ’s Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences. It introduced 27 participants to West Virginia’s Early Learning Standards Framework, guidelines designed to give pre-kindergarten educators tools to develop high quality early education environments that maximize learning and skill development.

Warash, who directs WVU ’s Child Development Laboratory or Nursery School, participated in developing West Virginia’s Early Learning Standards Framework. The framework was developed in response to West Virginia Senate Bill 247, a mandate for high quality early education programs for three- and four-year-olds with special needs. Warash led the team of early childhood educators that translated the mandate into curriculum standards.

Last week’s seminar featured a variety of group activities that allowed participants to develop programs for their own schools that are mindful of the framework. They also get to put themselves in their students’shoes, trying out the programs and sharing their activities with fellow participants. As participating teachers learned the finer points of West Virginia content standards, they also made paper dolls and castles.

“We’ve really tried to combine education and a hands-on approach in this seminar, sharing new experiences with the teachers who took part,”Warash said.”It’s exciting to be able to expand what we do in our undergraduate programs and apply it to continuing education for pre-kindergarten educators who are already out in the field. It helps us refine what we teach and keep in touch with current needs and realities of the profession. And it’s a wonderful way to reach out to our colleagues in the field.”

Joining Warash to teach the seminar were Melissa Pelliccioni, assistant director of the WVU Nursery School; Sally Byard, technical assistant specialist for the region’s Head Start office; and Kellie Morgan, a WVU graduate student in child development and family studies.