Dr. Rebecca Isbell’s Blog

Fall is such an exciting time for early childhood teachers and professors.  We get to meet and learn about our new students.  Each of them is uniquely different, with diverse experiences and special talents.  We share a common goal: to create a learning  environment that will nurture their growth and development, whether they come in a small body or an adult size model.

Today is my first class with my new graduate students who are striving to learn and develop as early childhood professionals.  My class is Historical and Theoretical Basis for Early Childhood Education.  This lofty title allows us to explore the roots of our profession: theorists and experts who shaped our field and trends that have influenced our thinking.

During this time, it reminds me of all the amazing people who have impacted early childhood across history: Plato, Froebel, Montessori, Piaget, Patty Smith Hill, Ziegler, Elkind and so many other stars in our rich heritage.  These amazing people ventured into new directions, inspired original thinking, and communicated their ideas to others.

Today, let us think about those who came before us, for their thinking continues to strengthen our field. Remember a mentor who positively impacted your thinking, and use that model to support new teachers, a new trainer, or a returning professional.  Working together makes us better.

Knowing our history makes us stronger as Early Childhood Professionals!

Concordia University has a long history of quality early childhood programs and exhilarating conferences.  This year I had the privilege of providing the opening keynote in their beautiful and recently renovated Chapel on campus in Chicago, IL.  What a spectacular environment it was for my presentation! Beautiful stained glass windows, an enormous pipe organ, lots of wood on the high ceiling that produced great acoustics, and a chapel filled with dedicated early childhood educators.

This conference was organized and effectively implemented by Melissa Smith, Carol Smid, and their team of helpers.  These Early Childhood Professionals were so creative and collaborated to produce a wonderful day of professional development. I also met the delightful Dr. Shirley Morganthaler who was the developer of the ECE program at Concordia and founder of the conference.

During my time at the conference I was able to interact with many warm and creative educators who I know will have a positive impact on the young children and families they will work with this year. Together we shared stories about the young creative thinkers that we have worked with and discussed the exciting possibilities for this year.  Ann O’Brien, my special helper, assisted me in so many ways making my entire time at Concordia so enjoyable!

Yes, we believe in the creative abilities of Young Children

The beginning of a year provides time to work with new children and guide their experiences to use the 4Cs: Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking in meaningful ways. We value and recognize that these critical abilities are needed for today’s young children to be successful now and in the future.


May your year be filled with joyful moments, and many playful possibilities!



I just got back from Tampa, Florida, where I was a keynote at a wonderful celebration and conference focused on Creativity!  This was an exciting, exhilarating, and high energy conference that brought together owners, directors, and teachers from over 50 Creative World Schools. It was truly a celebration of the schools and the people who made these early childhood programs work while developing creative environments that nurture young children.

Dr. Maryann Whitehouse leading the cheers for the accomplishments of the programs

When I was invited to do the keynote and breakout session for this group, I had no idea what a special experience it was going to be for me!  I met the founder of the schools, “Ms. Billie” who had the vision, in the 1970s, for a school that nurtured and inspired creativity in young children.  In addition, I observed her daughter, Dr. Maryann Whitehouse, who has built on that rich heritage and become an effective leader for the growing number of franchised schools and their staff.

The conference and people here reminded me that those who work with young children are the best! I was so thrilled to be a part of this amazing Celebration of Creativity!


Let’s continue to honor the wonderful teachers and creative people who have dedicated their lives to making great things happen for young children and their families.  These are the special folks who inspire learning and development everyday in their schools and classrooms filled with young children

Let’s get ready for an exciting new year filled with creative opportunities for teachers and children!

Last week I participated in the AZ State Department of Education’s Early Childhood Conference (ADE). I provided the closing Keynote on “Nurturing Creative Thinkers” to several hundred early childhood educators from all across AZ.   The conference was flawlessly organized by Kristy and her Department of Education team. Every small detail was planned and implemented effectively making it very easy for me to enjoy the people and the experience.

The teachers also received a copy of my new book which was a thrill for me! At the closing of my session, I signed books, talked to the teachers, and made pictures with some of the smiling participates. Oh, how I love these personal interactions with teachers and listening to their inspiring stories about their work.

What a joyful experience it was for me to meet such warm and caring people who are working with young children and inspiring their creativity every day. The young children in Arizona are very blessed to have such a supportive State Early Childhood team and dedicated teachers who are enriching their lives during the Critical Early Years!

Thank you AZ for including me!

June has been a busy and exciting month with many new experiences, visual delights, musical highs, and even moments of calm. Only travel can help us get a perspective on the world, the amazing possibilities, and stretch our creative thinking.

Where in the World is Dr. Isbell?

Here is some evidence of my meaningful experiences. Can you identify the location of each of these images? Scroll down for the answers.













  1. The sights at night in Budapest were breathtaking! All the lights focused on the beautiful Parliament building and historic bridges.
  2. This is in Venice, which has been on my bucket list since I worked with children’s choirs as an elementary music teacher. I was able to see/hear the Vienna Boys Choir and a fabulous Concert of Vienna Music. Oh how I loved the “City of Music” and all these musical experiences.
  3. Prague, a city that was once behind the iron curtain but is now free! It is filled with beautiful buildings that looked like story book castles. A marvelous visual experience!
  4. New York, New York, an experience shared with my daughter and two granddaughters. The excitement of a city filled with lots of stimulation, wonderful restaurants, Museums, and Central Park. We shared the amazing musicals “Hamilton” and “Lion King”. Wow!


Travel to new places and revisiting favorite spots helps us appreciate home, family, and good friends. It makes us sensitive to the wonderful world we live in and that friendly people live in many different places!

Enjoy your travel this summer.


I just returned from the Maryland Child Care Conference in Ocean City, MD. The conference was held in a beautiful setting by the Ocean, but the best part was meeting all the wonderful early childhood educators. Chris Peusch was the hardworking coordinator of the conference who effectively managed the operations, responded to questions, and made the entire experience amazing for all of us! In my session, on “Nurturing Creativity”, the early childhood professionals responded enthusiastically and shared their own stories of their creative children. My closing session, “Laughter in Early Childhood Classrooms”, allowed us to laugh, giggle, and celebrate the joy that can happen when we interact with young children.

A high point for me was getting acquainted with Debbie Clement, a wonderful musician and creative author. We were able to talk several times and find our shared interest in young children and their teachers. She is a very authentic person who truly cares about early childhood teachers and their inclusion of music in their programs.

After my session, I was able to talk with some of the teachers and listen to their experiences. At the end of this time a teacher came to me just as I was leaving. No one else was around but she seemed hesitant to begin talking with me. Then she related this story. “I have worked in Child Care for many years but I was never able to go to college. It is difficult for me to share with parents what children were learning. Today, you gave me the words that I can use: persistence, creative thinking, and life skills.”

I thanked her for sharing her personal story with me and assured her that her years of experience had helped her learn many things about young children and their development.

This is why I travel to conferences and write books. I cherish these amazing moments when I interact with these very special people who are early childhood educators!

The Nashville Conference was an amazing celebration of our early childhood profession. It was led by two outstanding professionals; Jana Crosby, who effectively coordinated the conference and Tara Hurdle, the competent President of the organization. Although the weather was stormy, these two amazingly positive women kept the conference on course and infused with high energy!

Nashville’s early childhood educators at the conference were excited about learning, the exhibits, the delicious food, and the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals. Together we celebrated the joy of working with young children, recognizing their creativity, and connecting teachers to their own creativity. In our closing session together we giggled, laughed, and participated in stories about the funny things that happen in early childhood classrooms. It was wonderful for me to have the opportunity to share the laughter and joy with these dedicated, hardworking early childhood educators!

This Week of the Young Child let’s celebrate the amazing people who are working with young children every day! NAAEYC is a great place to find some of these very special people!

I just returned from a fabulous state conference in Charleston, WV. It was coordinated by a delightful and extremely organized LeeAnn, assisted by some great helpers including Ginger, Kathy, and many others.

This was such a responsive group of early childhood educators who joined with me in shaking hands, singing songs, and actively participating in telling stories.

I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with some attendees including preschool teachers, PreK teachers (WV has Universal PreK), Home Visitors, Head Start including early Head Start, and home based programs. All of these hard working teachers were so excited about their experiences with young children and are working diligently to provide quality early childhood programs in their community.

West Virginia’s young children and families are blessed to have such dedicated teachers, supervisors, and coordinators who strive to inspire, challenge, and support their development. Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah for the dedicated early childhood teachers in West Virginia.

A young boy, five years old, sees a red clip that is used to hold tops of chips or crackers together. He is intrigued by this unfamiliar object. First, he observes the color and design. Then he proceeds to open and close the clamp. Next he uses the clip on a newspaper, book, and magazine. During this experimental process, he notices a round piece on the side of the clip (a magnet). He asks, “What’s that?” The adult gives him the name, “It is a magnet.”

Benjamin feels of it, rubs it, and opens and closes the clip again. He takes the clip and magnet to the sliding glass door and tries to stick it to the surface, but the clip falls to the floor. Next he tries to attach it to the table but it doesn’t stick.   He looks around the room to find other surfaces that might attract his magnet.   He sees a tall floor lamp that is standing near the window. He tries the magnet on the lamp. To his amazement, the magnet attaches to the base of the lamp. He moves the magnet up and down the tall lamp and finds that it will attaches to the entire body of the lamp. He tries the lamp shade but it does not attach.   You can see the wheels turning as he thinks about all the items he has tried: glass, table, and it only sticks to the lamp. Why? What is different about the lamp? Why does it attach to the lamp and not the other objects?

For the next 10 minutes he experiments and observes the results of his ongoing investigation to determine what items the magnet will attach to and which ones will repel the magnet.   He is focused, persistent, and creative during the process.

This young boy is naturally curious and wants to find the answer to his problem. His scientific experiment didn’t require expensive materials or prepackaged kits.   All he needed was a safe environment where he could explore, try interesting items in his own way, and gain information at his own pace. Young children are natural scientists if given the opportunity and support to follow their interests, develop their plan of action, and discover their own solutions.

Let’s nurture our young scientists as they can become inventors, innovators, problem solvers, and confident thinkers! We can create an environment that will inspire thinking, support their creative ideas, and value their approach.

Enjoy the young scientist and creative thinkers in your world!

For the last decade our educational system has focused on testing, testing, and more testing.  I personally believe that the most essential abilities needed for a full and rich life are not testable!  

For example: motivation, persistence, creativity, athletic abilities, or musical talent cannot be identified by a test filled with bubbles and small bits of unrelated information.   This over testing, and at younger and younger ages, has been of great concern to me and a growing number of others.

Perhaps we are at the tipping point.  Recently, many experts, authors, and parents are saying, “Too much test taking”.  Teachers are reporting that their young children are crying, spaced out, or become very upset by the demands of limited time, prolonged sitting, and trying to use old computers. They find the questions frustrating because they are totally unrelated to what young children know and understand.

So what is the good news? Educators, parents, and leaders are now questioning the amount of testing being done and the growing recognition that there is so much more to learning than what are on these standardize test!  

Let’s demand that children have opportunities to learn in active and meaningful ways, not spend valuable time taking tests.   Join the growing group of those concerned about the testing of young children in inappropriate ways and the use of the results as an indicator of the capabilities of these marvelous developing brains.  Young children are so much more than a test score! They are creators, inventors, communicators, collaborators, and problem solvers.

Let’s work together,