Toddlers are always absorbing language, which is why a classroom rich in language is important.
To help develop language and literacy skills, teachers:
- Describe what they are doing as well as what the child is doing, so that children will hear more language and connect words to actions.
- Create a print-rich classroom environment with labeled materials to allow children to begin to understand that print conveys meaning.
- Read aloud multiple times a day, as well as allow independent exploration of books.
- Ask questions about books, and encourage interaction during reading.
- Allow children opportunities to tell a story.
- Sing songs/rhymes daily.
- Encourage pretend play and participation with other children.
- Allow opportunities to experiment with writing materials, and valuing scribbles.
- Encourage children to dictate a story or description of what they are creating.
Math is more than counting and recognizing numbers – teachers incorporate math into everyday activities.
To introduce early math concepts, teachers:
- Use math words such as heavy and light, big and small, long and short, and more or less to help children begin to understand math concepts.
- Provide opportunities to count while touching a variety of objects. For example, “How many cows do we have in the block area?”
- Provide opportunities to explain if something is more or less, first or last. For example, “Is that more or less than the number of sheep we have in the block area?”
- Provide opportunities to complete simple patterning activities with materials like lacing beads or pop beads.
- Allow independent exploration of puzzles and sorting materials.
- Allow measurement using materials in the classrooms. For example, “How many blocks does it take to match how long _____is?”
- Encourage persistence even when children get frustrated.
Young children are natural scientists who explore their world whenever the opportunity arises.
Teacher guidance and structure expands their curiosity and activities into something more scientific, to practice science. As children investigate, they acquire knowledge that explains the world around them in a process known as scientific inquiry. To introduce science concepts, teachers:
- Provide opportunities to explore a variety of materials and tools in a sensory table, and ask questions that encourage children to predict what will happen if ____.
- Provide opportunities to use active exploration to solve a problem and discuss if the solution was successful.
- Provide opportunities to explore light and shadows.
- Provide opportunities to observe and describe weather and seasonal changes.
- Introduce activities and conversations that help children name and describe body parts.
We include creative arts in our programming to provide a range of activities for children to express themselves.
Creative arts engage children’s minds, bodies, and senses. The arts invite children to listen to, observe, discuss, move, and imagine. To encourage creative arts exploration, teachers:
- Offer a variety of recorded music to listen and move freely to.
- Allow opportunities to explore a variety of musical instruments independently.
- Allow ongoing exploration of a wide variety of age-appropriate art materials and tools including crayons, markers, paint, glue, play dough, etc.
- Offer opportunities to participate in pretend or imaginative play in the dramatic play area, as well as with puppets and other people or animal figures.
Social emotional skills are essential in school.
Self-regulation and conflict resolution skills lead to a positive sense of self and makes it easier for children to build relationships with others. To develop strong social-emotional skills, teachers:
- Model empathy and encourage children to imitate comforting behaviors.
- Model impulse control, and validate children’s emotions, as well as model alternative reactions that will allow children to self-soothe in the future.
- Provide children with the words to express both positive or negative emotions.
- Allow children opportunities to demonstrate independence and do some self-care routines themselves.
- Provide a consistent daily schedule and routine.
- Model conflict resolution, and provide children with words to use instead of physical actions.
Large muscle development is important at this age, to practice skills and to lay the foundation for an active, healthy lifestyle.
Small muscle development is important as well, to develop hand-eye coordination and to ensure their hand muscles are strong as they begin to write. To boost physical growth, teachers:
- Encourage children to use spoons or forks to feed themselves instead of fingers.
- Offer opportunities to participate in physical play both indoors on climbers or tunnels, and outdoors on playground equipment.
- Support children to dress or undress themselves, both when needed with their own clothes, as well as in the dramatic play center.
- Introduce different writing materials like crayons or markers for children to practice making marks on paper.