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I gotta tell ya – I don’t get out that much. I’ve been a work-at-home type for almost 40 years, and my active social circle is relatively small. Add COVID-related social restrictions and caution to that, and you can see how my face-to-face social contact has been rather limited in the past few years. So…I’m thrilled that, for the first time in three years, we will be gathering in person at Trent University for the Self-Reg Summer Symposium (SRSS) 2023. 

Obviously, it is possible to connect and engage with people online. And it’s just great that we were able to keep SRSS going (and viable) as a virtual event for the past three years. Yeah, but there is nothing that replaces that face-to-face contact. Seeing and feeling the interest, excitement and zeal for learning in someone’s face. Picking up on the audience engagement in a room full of people listening to Stuart Shanker or Susan Hopkins. And, of course, just hanging out and having a few laughs with like-minded people who are on a similar learning journey.

That kind of connection at SRSS refuels my curiosity and my energy and excitement for learning. Same thing for being in the room with Stuart Shanker at SRSS when he is making a presentation.  I love the way Stuart connects with the audience, his way of singling out individuals for recognition and his willingness to veer off script to address a question or comment. He truly takes the audience on a journey.

I don’t mean to dismiss the value of virtual learning and contact. I enjoyed it for the past three years. And it’s great that people who live far away and/or are unable to travel to Peterborough can continue to be part of our Summer Symposium.

This year’s conference has an interesting theme; We Are the Strategy: Co-Regulation with Dysregulated Kids. I want to zero right in on the subtitle. Because, if we really want to improve child development and educational outcomes on a grand scale, it’s the dysregulated kids we really need to reach and support. Right? So many of the interventions and programs designed to improve child development and learning work best with the relatively well-regulated kids, the ones who will tend to do well under pretty much any approach. 

But the dysregulated kids are hard to reach and hard to influence.That’s partly because our traditional approaches – discipline, teaching strategies, expectations, rewards, consequences – don’t work very well with kids whose brain-body systems are constantly scrambling to manage excess stress. So, when the traditional self-control-rooted strategies don’t seem to work, we try harder. That’s dysregulating for kids. They feel picked-on, angry, frustrated or determined to fight and stand their ground. Or they just shut down.

What’s more—let’s face it—dysregulated kids dysregulate adults. So now you’ve got two dysregulated people who need to co-regulate. Good luck with that. 

That’s why our theme this year is so vitally important. We’ve got to find better ways to help dysregulated kids, and Self-Reg offers the best—both helpful and humane—approach I’ve seen (and I’ve looked at many over the past 40 or so years).

I’m eager to discover how we dive into the topic of dysregulated kids at SRSS this summer.  Highlights of this year’s program include live keynotes (or as we call them,  “Luminaries”) from Stuart and Susan – Stuart’s first in-person talks in over three years! And, of course, the return of the ever-popular, and inspiring Jean Clinton. We’re also planning breakout sessions where various Self-Reggers will explore our theme on a smaller picture, personal level sharing their experiences, insights and lessons learned.

But at the heart of it, I’m most eager to connect again in-person, to reunite with friends I’ve gotten to know over the years and to meet new and inspiring people. Whether sitting elbow to elbow in one of the Trent University lecture halls, or chatting during a snack break or one of the Self-Reg social activities that SRSS has to offer, it’s the interconnectedness that provides much of the magic of our signature annual event.

And what better setting to do it in than beautiful Trent University, on the banks of the Otonabee River, with nature trails and canoes at hand and the lovely city of Peterborough just a few minutes away.

You can find much more information, including program details, costs and how to register, here.

Hope to see you there.

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