The second annual Family Connections Conference was held Saturday, March 30, and 150 parents, caregivers and professionals dedicated to learning innovative methods for teaching and relating to children attended the event.
Sierra Cascades Family Engagement Manager Bethany Edholm said, “Our hope for the conference is for parents to access new parenting tools and education but to also walk away feeling refreshed and inspired.”
To that end, a myriad of activities were presented and experts in the business of childhood learning methods and communication were featured.
One of the guest speakers was childhood music and movement consultant, Angela Russ-Ayon. Her specialty is engaging young children in interactive song and dance using fine & gross motor activities that promote imaginative play and bridge educational gaps.
Her present passion evolved in the most organic manner. She started singing silly songs she made up to her young children and their playmates during car rides. Those kids remembered them and repeated them to their parents, who in turn approached Russ-Ayon for the source of the songs their children were now obsessed with. After receiving dozens of requests for more she began to suspect she might have a knack for writing kids’ songs.
With her immense energy and a natural ability for connecting to audiences as well as a warmth, which exudes from her during personal encounters, Russ-Ayon’s ability to draw people in includes adults as well as children. This gift was exemplified by her captivation of 150 adults she led in numerous versions of follow the leader around and through the entire Lassen High School cafeteria.
Russ-Ayon is a natural wizard at boosting the level of creativity in educators, child care providers and parents by engaging them in activities presented from an adult-learner’s perspective — validating the capabilities of the developing child.
Her presentations focus on improving academic readiness skills and motor development in young children. Sharing her expert knowledge of brain-based learning strategies, research, and approaches to early STEM concepts, she promotes enriched experiences that can be explored throughout the day to help children lay strong academic foundations.
As a children’s music producer, Russ-Ayon is well-respected in the industry. She holds a business degree in marketing and entrepreneurship, and is a voting member of the Recording Academy. She has been presented three literary awards, has received nine early childhood music awards of excellence, and her music is represented by school suppliers nationwide.
Do not mistake her light-hearted approach to interactions with children as merely entertainment. Her work incorporates conceptual language and movements into the physicality of play and dance, so that the fun and games reap long lasting rewards.
Her music and methods teach kids about sequencing, opposites, abstract reasoning, ocular skills, spatial awareness, and more – all while building confidence and inspiring creativity.
Russ-Ayon also reminds parents to encourage creativity and problem-solving by allowing children to take time to think through a situation without instantly switching into teaching mode to provide answers for them.
She recommends using open-ended questions such as:
“How did you decide to …?” or “What might happen if …?” or “Tell me about …?” or “Why do you think …?” She added, “ You might be tempted to chime in and start teaching, but don’t. Slow down your day, and give children time to teach you.”