Conference 2012 Report
The conference "A Path for the Learning Family: Parents as Providers of Early Language Learning and Development of Thinking" was held in Vienna on 16 and 17 November 2012. The conference was the final event of a two year long project Parents As Successful teacherS (PASS) supported by the European Commission. The conference was co-organised by the European Parents Association (EPA), an associative partner of the PASS project and its active supporter from the very beginning. The conference brought together over 60 participants from 18 countries. The delegates were attracted by a common interest in the development of thinking and language skills of children in the family context.
The conference was officially opened by Johannes Theiner, the president of EPA, Klaus Schedler, a representative of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and Alexander Sokol, PASS project coordinator. The first day offered six plenary sessions. Dr. Johannes Theiner gave an overview of important changes in the EU documentation which emphasise the importance of parent participation in the development of language and thinking in the early stages of education. This was followed by the German member of the PASS team, Olaf Weber, who delivered a motivational presentation introducing the general PASS framework for family activities. The following two presentations highlighted two key aspects of PASS materials: Dr Alexander Sokol showed how thinking can be developed during routine family activities with children aged 4-6, and Edgar Lasevich gave a presentation on ways of introducing a new language in family communications. This was followed by a demonstration of family videos dealing with the use of PASS materials. These were analysed by the social linguist Prof Filomena Capucho from Portugal. The day was concluded by a panel discussion of all keynote speakers.
The second day of the conference offered two slots of workshop sessions followed by the closing plenary. Delegates selected the workshops most relevant to their interests and were free to move between sections. Six workshops gave a further and more practical input into the materials of the PASS project: Alexander Sokol and Edgar Lasevich delivered two workshops on the practical use of materials of Phases 0 and 1, Silvana Rampone made a comparison between the principles of language acquisition of EU standards and PASS principles, Ingrida Murashkovska shared a few activities which develop thinking in children and Filomena Capucho analysed methodological principles behind PASS activities using real videos. Johannes Theiner led a workshop on policies for parental involvement in education across Europe.
The final plenary gave all the participants an opportunity to share and discuss what had been learned during the two days. Participants agreed that a family environment offers a rich platform for motivating game-like learning activities for parents and children which help increase a child’s sensory awareness, communication and thinking skills, as well as offer possibilities for multilingual development. Communication with a child is at the heart of such activities. It is directed by parents through specially tailored question and activity-building techniques. The conference ended with a fantastic tour in the centre of Vienna and a gala dinner in a traditional Viennese restaurants.
The Organising Committee would like to thank all PASS team members and colleagues who contributed to making the conference possible at different stages of the process and all the conference sponsors - Austrian Chamber of Commerce, Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and Culture and Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research who made it possible not to charge conference fee.