Gold Coast, Queensland | 11 & 12 March 2023

Early Childhood

best practice


Knowledge, action and empowerment

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OCT 2023



11 & 12 MARCH 2023

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Keynote Speakers


8:45am – 10:15am

Best practice in early childhood education is ‘best’ when it draws from, and conveys multiple perspectives. Too often, practice is linearly planned rather than creatively crafted which disadvantages children to be ensconced in the most delicious, delightful and daring curriculum encounters. In this presentation Dr Red Ruby Scarlet will share current stories of practice that illustrate the dazzling richness of working with creative and performing arts as the centre of curriculum that is generates every other disciplinary area of learning. Through poetry, musical composition, film, recording technologies, encounters with nature, embodying Indigenous cosmologies and multiple cultural expressions – these pedagogical practices raise the bar for educational innovation and they all rely upon a collective perspectival approach. Creativity is the central most important ’thing’ educators require in order to enable children to surpass the limitations of ordinary learning experiences.

10:45am – 12:00pm

Good quality sleep is vital for healthy development across the life-span, with impacts on learning, behaviour, and health. In the early years of life, children’s sleep impacts not only the child, but also those who care for them. The significance of children’s early sleep development is reflected in the NQS which specifies that services must appropriate opportunities to meet each child’s need for sleep, rest and relaxation (QA 2.1.1). Yet, how ECEC services best respond to individual differences in sleep needs is not always clear. Drawing on our findings from over a decade of research into sleep, rest, and relaxation practices, this interactive presentation will examine current knowledge of children’s sleep development and provide opportunity to reflect on best practice to meet individual differences in children’s sleep, rest, and relaxation needs.

1:30pm – 2:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

Children learn best through play, therefore play-based learning is best practice for young children.  It is written into our curriculum frameworks, so where does that leave us Montessorians?  Play-based learning is often held up in opposition to Montessori programs as a way to differentiate one from the other. Somewhere along the line, many in the Montessori community have moved away from seeing play as the wonderful vehicle for learning that it is. To truly follow the child, we must become playful and find ways to integrate play philosophy into our practice.  This workshop will explore definitions of play, identify where play already exists in our environments and how to extend our understanding of work and normalisation through play.

1:30pm – 2:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

How do we create an environment where rich oral language is a part of the culture and support the development of concentration in our class environments ensuring that best practice prevails? The Montessori approach is of course the answer! Come along to this workshop and learn easy practical games you can play and skills you can use while having fun with children of all early childhood ages. We’ll be learning about ways to teach compassion, instil a sense of community and develop language skills. This workshop is for anyone wanting to learn how to support focus and concentration leading to the ‘normalisation’ of children in their class while developing skills for life.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

Within each child is their own unique timeline for the unfolding of their development. We cannot ‘teach’ children of this age -they are innately driven to experience the world through their own ‘work’. Our role is to observe and ensure that we offer an environment that supports the unfolding of every new experience that the child seeks. Too often educators believe it is their job to keep children busy, active and entertained, often leading them to go home empty of energy and feeling exhausted. Our role is not to direct the learning, it is to support it. We need to take the time to just ‘be’ with the children, to witness the miracle of each new achievement and to be fulfilled by the trust each child places in us to be their guide when they need us. In this workshop, Barbara will remind us of the incredible journey each child takes to achieve their independence. We will practice “observing” a child through a different lens and discuss how we can support and nurture this critical stage of human development.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

Documentation is the best beautiful tenement to our professional practice. It can feel like a struggle inside frameworks that constrain and streamline. To twinkle the magic back into the practice of documentation, Dr Red Ruby Scarlet will engage a playful way to bring the poetics back into crafting the beauty of documentation as professional expression. Wordplay through poetry helps us bellyflop into the tenderness and intensity of the relationships we engage with children in their learning encounters. Using gorgeously expressive language helps bring those encounters alive in ways that we enjoy, children can enjoy and families can enjoy as we invite a new and different kind of relational connection. Words are images, pictures, sculptures, songs, movements that we can craft playfully and poetically in our pedagogical practices.

4:00pm – 5:30pm

Chris brings the stage to life in a perfect combination of education and entertainment, which we like to call “EDU’TAINMENT’. You can expect laughs, games, psychology and philosophy, as well as a proven formula for wellbeing. Introducing educators to the Phoenix Cups framework, Chris helps educators and leaders determine their own needs, the needs of others, what we can do to have them met, and how to challenge our unhelpful thinking. The Phoenix Cups Framework will help you understand how to meet your most important life needs, and the needs of those around you, by discovering what Cups you need to keep full, how they influence behaviours, and how you can use them to build relationships in all aspects of life.

Play Video

The National Quality Framework – The Musical

5:45pm – 7:15pm

Join us as Dr Red Ruby Scarlet and Louise Dorrat present their production of The National Quality Framework – The Musical!

In an all singing all dancing extravaganza, dynamic dramaturgical early childhood thespians, Red and Louise present a splendiferous, spectacular, salubrious engagement with the NQF.

After Party

7:30pm – 10:30pm

Continue the good times with colleagues and friends at the After Party. Dance the night away with a live DJ, with party food included (cash bar).


An introduction to the Positive Discipline for Montessori Educators course on classroom management tools to support student mental health and foster respect, kindness and responsibility.

8:30am – 10:00am

Consider the early childhood program, why is it the way it is and more importantly what would it take for educators and teachers to radically re-imagine our practices. Whilst this does not herald a radical departure from any philosophical underpinnings, it is an invitation to engage critical thinking skills as an act of transformation. To think critically is to never take practices for granted but rather to ask questions, to investigate possibilities and imagine and dream of future possibilities. In this keynote address we will explore the role of critical thinking, and how this might serve as a catalyst for pedagogical and personal transformation.

10:00am – 11:00am

Cathy Duvel is a member on the Faculty of Time To Think, specialising in the process called The Thinking Environment: what it takes to create environments where independent thinking can be cultivated and flourish. This will be an experiential session with the audience participating in activities to practice Generative Attention and also experience the liberation when you are on the receiving end of Generative Attention. Cathy will also discuss how Generative Attention can be used in the classroom and the benefits for the developing child, as well as in the relationships between teachers and families.

11:30am – 12:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

Are you sick of knowing you are exceeding and finding the assessor doesn’t view things the same way as you? What can you do to change their perception and what paperwork is required to meet the criteria? How can you explain Montessori in plain English in discussions and in print? We will go through the basic area needs, documentation required, and how to present this to an assessor. Moreover we will also look at how to implement this into your daily practice as an educator without taking more time away from the children for whom you care.

11:30am – 12:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

This session will introduce educators to the idea of Weaving & Connecting to their community, asking key questions on:

  • How you can weave in and out of your community?
  • Who is in your local community?
  • Where can you go to connect with the people or organisations within your community?
  • Where can you locate resources that will support you along the way?


1:30pm – 2:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

Montessori Long Day Care in Australia is the fastest growing sector on the Australian Montessori scene – and it is still growing. How have centres flourished under government initiatives? Can we claim this as the grassroots of a much bigger movement and how do we ensure an ever-better world? This interactive session will give us an opportunity to share experiences and open discussion on staying true to core Montessori principles, and what those principles and practices look like in this sector of Montessori education in 2023 and beyond.

1:30pm – 2:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

Safe sleep messaging varies considerably in clinical practice and guidelines within and between Australian states and territories. Many families encounter difficulties in implementing safe sleep advice; these challenges negatively impact infant care practices. Risk elimination approaches which attempt to enforce idealistic expectations of where and how a baby sleeps have been demonstrated to alienate parents. Risk minimisation approaches which support ‘safer sleep’ offer flexibility and practical strategies that are more likely to engage families in risk reduction and infant health promoting behaviours. In this session, Prof Young shares safe sleep messages that parents identified as most challenging to implement and introduce the Safer Infant Sleep clinical guideline designed to address the common barriers encountered. The anatomy and physiology of infants will be discussed together with a practical tool – Through the Tubes – which can be applied to a variety of situations in which babies may be placed to sleep to promote airway protection. Understanding airway protection and breathing assists carers to create a safer environment, whether the baby is placed alone in a cot or other environment for sleep (e.g. floor bed), or if the baby shares a sleep surface with a caregiver. The Safer Sleep guideline provides families with a voice for collaborative and informed decision-making and professionals with a tiered approach to manage risk and promote safety through practical strategies that can be applied to a range of infant sleep environments.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

The “Bedtime Battle” is a well-known parent challenge. For Montessori families, however, giving autonomy to children over their sleep from the earliest ages can prevent a negative association with sleep. At the same time, the scientific approach of Montessori ensures that we are taking note of research outcomes to check against our practices.

Prof Jeanine Young, Dr Sally Staton, Vicki McKinnon and Susan Chahwan

2:30pm – 3:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

The Assessment and Rating process inspires stress and fear in educators almost universally, even those who are confident in their practices. Having an external person viewing and marking performance is always confronting. This panel session is an opportunity to ask questions around the process, the best preparation and the outcomes of an A&R process.

Anthony Semann, Dr Red Ruby Scarlet, Lucette van Someren Boyd and Cathy Wilson

This program (No. 006756) has been approved for 10 hours:



Share experiences and exchange ideas with Montessori educators and leaders from around the country



It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself, and truly work at it.” Maria Montessori



The NQF – The Musical is a must-see splendiferous, spectacular, and salubrious educational performance. Our After Party is always a calendar highlight.



Educational thought leaders to transform your practice.



Gain and share new ideas and best practices.



Be introduced to new concepts and practices to become an even better educator.

Highlights from our 2022 conference on

Thinking Different: Supporting Neurological Divergences


22 View Avenue, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast QLD 4217