Infants and Toddlers
The first three years of a child's life are more critical to a child's development
than we ever imagined. Research tells us that more rapid brain development takes place during these years than at any other
time of life. During this period, children are discovering who they are, how others respond to them, and if they are competent.
They are also learning how to relate
to others, what it means to express their feelings, and whether they are loved. Their brains are being "wired" into patterns
for emotional, social, physical, and cognitive development.
I am helping to build both a foundation
and a future for each child and each family. I am a family child care provider and I'm committed to offering a high quality
program for infants, toddlers, and their families.
Some people might say that taking care of infants and toddlers is easy - all you have to do is change them,
feed them, and put them to sleep. But those of us who work with this age group know differently. "Zero to Three" (the National
Center for Infants and Toddlers) provides a clear definition of the components
of a quality program and the roles of the key players who interact in ways that promote children's growth and development.
Their publication, "Caring for Infants and Toddlers in Groups", is filled with abundant examples of practices that are developmentally
appropriate contrasted with practices that are not appropriate.
There can be no question about what
a quality program should provide. Why then do I need a curriculum? The "Creative Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers" believes
that the guidelines alone are not enough to help plan and implement a program for infants and toddlers. While a clear definition
of developmentally appropriate practice is a vital part of quality programming, it is not a substitute for curriculum. Curriculum
provides a framework for pulling all the pieces of developmentally appropriate practice together - the what, why, and how
you do things. It provides a vision of where developmentally appropriate practice will take you and guides you through the
process of planning, implementing, and evaluating the program.
At the same time, a curriculum helps
you individualize your program. It gives you a framework for learning about each child and shows you how to respond to each
child’s special circumstances, abilities, and learning style, and to each family. A curriculum based on developmentally
appropriate practice offers you the “big picture” of where you want to lead each child and family – and
how you can grow as a professional. It is your blueprint for action.
As I said before, often when people
think about caring for infants and toddlers, they only think about the routines (sleeping, eating) and activities (changing
diapers) that consume a child’s day. But before any routine or activity takes place, you must set the stage and provide
a context for learning. According to the “Creative Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers”, there are six components
• Planning and evaluating
• Creating a welcoming environment
• Ensuring children’s
• Promoting children’s
• Guiding children’s behavior
What makes caring for infants and
toddlers a deeply satisfying profession is our ability to appreciate and find joy in the everyday discoveries that delight
a child – he sound a rattle makes, the colorful patterns on your dress, the ball that unexpectedly rolls across a child’s
path, the ant marching across the pavement.
To help the children learn about the
world around them, we focus on the following activities:
• Playing with toys
• Dabbling in art
• Imitating and pretending
• Enjoying stories and books
• Tasting and preparing food
• Exploring sand and water
• Having fun with music and
• Going outdoors
What is a preschool curriculum? Ask
this question and you’ll hear many different answers. Some people will refer to a book of activities that precisely
outlines what, when, and how children should be taught. Others will say more broadly that “curriculum is everything”:
an early childhood teacher simply needs to follow children’s interests and build on what happens each day.
In my opinion, an early childhood
curriculum is somewhere between these two extremes. According to the “Creative Curriculum for Early Childhood”,
early childhood teachers do not need to follow a prescribed course of study like an adult taking biology or history, nor can
teachers simply react to what happens each day, without any goals or plans in mind. I depend on my curriculum framework that
sets forth my program’s philosophy, goals, and objectives for children as well as guidelines for teaching that addresses
all aspects of a child’s development: social emotionall, cognitive, and physical. Mycurriculum provides the framework
for what actually happens in a planned environment where children interact with materials, their peers, and adults. The primary
teaching goals is to help young children use the environment productively and see themselves as capable learners –as
individuals who are developing the skills and understandings that will enable them to make sense of the world to succeed in
My curriculum for preschool children
focuses on the following interest areas:
• Table toys
• Sand and water
• Music and movement