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.