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 of quality:
• Planning and evaluating
• Creating a welcoming environment
• Ensuring children’s safety
• Promoting children’s health
• 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 movement
• 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 it.
My curriculum for preschool children focuses on the following
• Table toys
• Sand and water
• Music and movement