Human Growth & Development

The Very Youngest in Our Charge

I taught a workshop this weekend on Creative Curriculum and putting it all together. Overall I thought it went pretty well. It was a great, interactive group that had some great ideas and worked well together. As I went over the feedback the next day it was a pretty dominant theme – there was a lot for the older kids, but really not much about the infants and toddlers. And they were pretty right on. So now I’m in the process of revamping that training to include more information in planning of the youngest children.

It’s amazing to me when you think about the vast range of developments that exist within a short period of time. So much is happening to these little ones, physically, emotionally, cognitively…

I’m still in awe of the idea that this little person has existed on this earth for just a year or two. A year or two. It took me longer than that to complete my degree. I look ahead to retirement three years from now. It seems like just a short stretch of time and yet, here is this little one that has been here less time than that. Everything is so new. Everything is an experience that leaves an impression. And it’s this piece that is so important when we work with the youngest of our children. Every moment matters.

While I think about how to change up the workshop, I think about that experience piece. When we plan for the infants and toddlers, we should plan activities based on the experience and not the developmental domain. Every little experience lends itself to all those domains in many different ways, so we need to be cognizant of what we do and what kinds of experiences will be impressed forever in each child’s memory.

The older children need interesting activities, activities that hold their attention and spark curiosity. The younger children need activities that stimulate growth. The little one that wobbles when they try to stand needs more opportunities to stand…and to fall. The squishy feel of mud between the toes; the cold feel of paint between the fingers and on they hands; the smell of mint or lemon while splashing in some cool water. Activities that broaden the experiential learning that leaves impressions on the brain for a lifetime.

Those of us who have spent our careers working primarily with the preschool children forget the distinct differences of the children just a year or two younger. As a director, it’s important to remember this and to inspire those teachers of our very youngest to watch, listen and take note of the needs of the group. And with this information, create the best experience possible while we care for these little ones.

 

© Copyright 2018  Helen Fern

4 thoughts on “The Very Youngest in Our Charge

  1. Working there at the Y for 8 years with my preschoolers was one thing. Becoming a mom and working through the wobbler stage and now being in the toddler stage has definitely been a change! I find myself still looking for those teachable moments with her but also try to find activities that help her in her development and with her gross motor and fine motor skills. I’ve found that so much of her development has come from talking to her (about the weather, the sky, our surroundings, whatever she’s playing with), singing songs and just getting on the floor to play with her, which both my husband and I do on a regular basis. With the littler ones, you don’t need a lesson plan so much as you just need to pay attention and look for those opportunities in daily activities. Does that mean you don’t need a lesson plan? No. You still need one. But you can use individual activities to strengthen their motor skills. Have a wobbler needing to work on standing or developing leg strength to stand? Peek-a-boo over a low shelf works great!

  2. For younger children, everything is new. I remember my own kids at that age and I miss their awe of the smallest experiments.. Thank you for joining The Really Crafty Link Party this week and sharing your insights.

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