Ellen Booth Church
Early childhood educator, keynote speaker, writer and product consultant.
Ellen Booth Church early childhood education expert keynote speaker children's book author early childhood conferences magazine articles child development  childhood education keynote speaker early childhood development  early childhood development

Ellen Booth Church Ellen Booth Church Ellen booth Church Ellen Booth Church

“The secret of genius 

is to carry the spirit of 

childhood into maturity."

- Thomas Huxley

Welcome to my website
Let's Start the Year Building Community!

As many programs are welcoming new children I was reminded of this article I wrote about Creating A Community in the Classroom.
It appeared in Early Childhood Today Magazine in 2008.

Building A Sense of Community In the Classroom (Scholastic)

By Ellen Booth Church


Your room is a gathering place. A place where all children can feel secure, nurtured and supported by the environment, each other and YOU. Of course, you are gathering children but much, much more. As you gather children together for the first time, you are creating a confluence of individuals who bring with them divergent interests, abilities, cultures, and families. Each child arrives at your door with a fertile background of experience that enriches your program. The beginning of the year is a time for creating a sense of community. By demonstrating your loving acceptance for all children’s backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints, you create an environment that says, “All are welcome here.” At the same time you are modeling just how you want children to be with one another. The goal is to celebrate individuals while creating a sense of community.


We know from recent studies that children who feel a sense of identity within a group are the most adjusted and successful in school. As children move from the egocentric stage of development to the pre-operational stage the group interaction skills gradually become easier. Your children’s “world view” expands to add a greater understanding of the relationship between self and other. Studies tell us that some of the most important skills children need for school readiness and success are the “people” skills of social interaction, communication, collaboration and problem solving. They are the fertile-ground that supports the “academics” of the ABC’s and 123’s. That is what you are doing in the first month of school…creating emotionally secure “home base” for children to learn in. So don’t worry if you are not teaching many specific academic skills in your first month. By focusing on setting a safe, secure and nurturing environment you are teaching children how to learn and are setting the stage for the entire year

What makes a child feel secure in a new community?

Let’s look at a few elements that help your children feel recognized and supported.

Identity and Familiarity

Your children need to see themselves reflected in the classroom. Invite families to send in photos of their children and family before school starts or in the first few weeks. Finding themselves “already there” will go a long way towards making children feel comfortable. Not only will children enjoy finding their photos around the room, but they will delight in learning about their new friends and their families. Children may like to make family books in the first few weeks of school as a means of getting to know each other.


Familiarity is more than photos. Children need to find things that are familiar to them in the classroom. It can be something like simple puzzles and games they might have found in a previous classroom. These might be materials that seem too “easy” for them but this is a time for children to build a sense of comfort, the time to be challenged comes later. Of course, just moving into a new class of children is VERY challenging. And interestingly, children who have a sense of success with a particular educational material or game are more likely to share it with others and thus build community. Don’t forget to use familiar and favorite songs and books at group time. Children will feel so proud when they can say, “I know that book!”


Warmth and Beauty

Studies have shown that warm colors and soft spaces are welcoming to children and create a secure and nurturing “nest” from which they can grow. Lots of pillows, and soft toys, fresh flowers, soft clay or dough, water play create a homelike environment. These elements also foster a sense of community. A soft place to share a book with a friend, a small clay table for two, or a beautiful bouquet of flowers to examine together all can create ‘warm spots” for children to share with a new friend. But perhaps the warmest element of your classroom is you and your SMILE.


Trust and Predictability

At this stage of development children need to feel the same sense of trust in school as they do at home. Your calm acceptance of children’s feelings during the transition from home to school goes a long way towards letting children know that it is safe to express their feelings and builds a sense of trust in you as a new caregiver. Reassure children by making eye contact and listening to what they need to say, acknowledging their thoughts and feelings. Don’t expect children to make friends right away. Children may need to engage in parallel play before they are ready to share and communicate with other child.


Predictability is another important part of building an environment of trust and safety. Establishing predictable routines helps children know what to expect and makes them feel confident and capable in the group. Keep a regular schedule of activities throughout the day. If possible, take photographs of each section of the day and place these in a row at child eye level in a left to right sequence from the beginning of the day to the end. If children are wondering “what comes next” or “when do I go home” they can look at the sequence to see how many more activities are left for the day.


Families and Community

Each child who walks through your door “comes” with a family. The family is a key ingredient to children feeling “at home” in your classroom because it is the family that supports the learning the child brings home. In some programs you may not meet the families except for special meetings or occasions. In others you will have the pleasure of seeing them everyday when they drop-off and pick-up their child. Make a point of connecting in a variety of ways from phone calls to letters or notes sent home. If possible, get their email address for instant family communication. They will appreciate your efforts and will reward you with active participation in your program. Invite family members to visit and share their culture, work and interests. You will be expanding your classroom community to include the greater community of the town where your school resides.

Many Keynote speeches coming up - Stay Tuned!


IT was a delight to be interviewed for this article on
"Raising Kinder, Less Entitled Kids".
Click here to read the article:

Off to Topeka Kansas April 2018
I will be offering the Keynote and a workshop at the Child Care Providers Coalition in April 21, 2018

May 19th 2018 I will be in Aplena, Michigan
I am honored to be the Keynote at this important conference. Go to their website for more information.

India and Nepal Trip was a huge success!
In Janurary I was able to return to the Kinderpillar schools in India and Nepal. Many new schools have joined in both countries. It is a delight to see these programs thriving.

I was in Singapore!
I am honored to be a part of this amazing conference of Early Childhood educators. The audience is deeply involved and passionate about teaching young children. We are on our last day today and I can't wait to offer the ending Post-Note presentation: Minds and Hearts Together: Essential Tools for Learning

Click here for more information.

Visit the Rethasia Facebook page for photos of this wonderful event.
Rethasia Facebook page

 My newest book is available from Gryphon House. It is titled Nurturing Next Generation Innovators.
Click for Information
My book, Getting to the Heart of Learning (Gryphon House)  has won several awards! One is from Tillywig Brain Child Awards and the other from Academics Choice Awards. Click the links below for more information.



About Ellen....
Nationally recognized early childhood expert, Ellen Booth Church spent several years as both a pre-k and kindergarten teacher before becoming an early childhood assistant professor at the State University of New York. She is currently an early childhood educational consultant, keynote speaker, curriculum/product dev
eloper, and writer dedicated to enriching the lives of young children and their families. She is an adjunct professor of early childhood at Nova Southeastern University.

Ellen is currently writing for Gryphon House publishing. She is also a former columnist for Scholastic’s Parent and Child and Early Childhood Today magazines as well as the author of many books for teachers and parents. In the world of Children’s Television, Ellen has consulted for PBS, Nelvana, and Cartoon Network on a wide variety of projects.


Ellen's specialties in Early Childhood Education include: Brain-Based Learning; Creative Music and Movement; Mindfulness and Compassionate Discipline; Circle Time; Transitions; Creative and Critical Thinking Skills; Kindergarten; Child Development; Language and Literacy; Infant and Toddler Development; Play

Keynote presentations
Teacher workshops / in-services
Article and book writing
Early childhood product development
Early childhood television consultation

Ellen has written useful Early Childhood laminated resource guides for
National Professional Resources, Inc.

One is on Transitions and the other on Classroom Management.

Visit the Website: http://www.nprinc.com/behavior-management-in-early-childhood/