Working for Kids: Building Skills Training in Austin 


Friday, June 8, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM CDT
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United Way for Greater Austin 
2000 Martin Luther King Blvd E
Barton Springs Room
Austin, TX 78702

Driving Directions 


Lauren O'Rourke 
Texas Parents as Teachers 

This is an educational program that seeks to build strong communities by focusing on the development of a community’s most precious asset—its children. Working for Kids: Building Skills™ is a community-based educational program that takes an intergenerational approach to putting children on a positive trajectory for success in school and in life.

9:00am – 10:30am - Training Session 1: How Experiences Shape Brain Development

This training session reviews how brain pathways form during development to support all the skills a child will gain as they grow up and learn. For each skill a child learns (focusing attention, understanding emotions, language skills, problem-solving skills) a network of brain circuits develop that allow them to do the skill well. These pathways form in the brain from birth until about 25 years of age, with each pathway forming at a specific age. You can learn new things later in life, of course, but you use the pathways you already have, you don’t develop new brain pathways. In this session we will discuss when various brain pathways develop, and how to help children develop the strongest brain pathways possible. Helping children build strong brain circuits is fun, rewarding and sets children on a positive road to succeed in school and in life!


10:45-12:15 - Training Session 2: Supportive Environments Are Key to Healthy Brain Development 

Supportive environments, with adults who are caring, offer support, and encourage children to develop new skills are critical for healthy brain development. In such environments the cycle of learning, that involves a child becoming interested in developing a new skill, engages them in activities that allow skill development, and allows them to gain self-confidence in performing that skill, is supported and encouraged. A key to effective skill learning is to individualize the strategies to the child so that they become deeply engaged in skill development. This session will focus on how to create supportive environments and how to work with children to encourage their participation in the learning cycle. Such environments not only play a strong role in brain development but also serve to buffer children from the negative consequences of adverse childhood experiences when they occur.

12:15-1:15 - LUNCH - Please bring your own lunch or there are many restaurants nearby.

1:15-2:45 - Training Session 3: Experiences Build Brain Architecture

In this training session participants will play The Brain Architecture Game (;  also see the RESOURCES page of the Working for Kids: Building Skills™ website) --- a fun, interactive game where groups of players build a brain and see if it will be able to grow tall and strong and survive life stresses. You will learn the amazing power of life experiences in shaping brain development, as well as learn how caring adults and older children interacting with children are critical to the development of strong brain pathways and preventing long-term negative impacts of adverse childhood experiences on brain development and long-term health.


3:00 – 4:30 - Training Session 4: Putting Knowledge Into Action: Ways To Interact With Kids

How you interact with children matters. Interactions where adults listen to what a child is interested in and help them make the best use of their interests are particularly effective in promoting the development of strong brain pathways. The first part of this session focuses on ways of interacting with children to maximize their skill development. 

What activities will help children build strong brain pathways for the skills they need to succeed in life (focusing attention, communication skills, language skills, problem-solving skills)? In the second half of this session you will learn about age-appropriate games and activities to play with children to help them build these skills.