Friday, March 5, 2010


With so many families being stretched to their limits in every way - emotionally, financially, even physically - and parents needing to work outside the home, day care is becoming necessary for babies & toddlers more than ever. The good news is, most day care providers are incorporating new approaches to counter the practices of years past, where it seemed that much of the care of infants and toddlers is more like glorified babysitting or watered down preschool. This style of day care, the belief was that these children only needed health and safety, and bonding with caregivers and attention to development was unnecessary. Some believed that adult directed curriculum's should be followed by every baby stimulated by planned lessons throughout the day. Both ignored what has recently been discovered about what infant and toddlers really need to help them grow and learn.

The biggest thing we know now is that babies come into care with their own learning agenda, their own curriculum, and their own timetable.

Babies have an inborn motivation to learn and explore. They are on a constant quest for knowledge and learning through their senses; through what they see, hear, feel, taste, and touch. And they do it without prompting.

Many people have the mistaken belief that infants learn the same way as school children do: adults set objectives and goals for the children, and try to get children to focus on the skills and content they should master. However, research today is showing what every mother has always known: every baby is different! And baby learning is different.

Babies are not wired to focus on one particular skill or idea or planned focus. But they are very good at exploring real objects in their world - and interacting with the people around them! Babies need to be in an age appropriate environment. The environment that a school child thrives in will actually be negative for an infant. In these situations, infants will become less interested in learning, expect less of themselves, become less cooperative, and become quite stressed.

The good news is this: many programs are aware of the research and are "righting the ship".
Armed with new knowledge, infant and toddler teachers are starting to match their agenda with the learning agenda of the baby. They are respecting and responding the developmental process of the infant, rather than treat them as just their "charge". And what has emerged is a new, dramatic role of the infant care teacher: not a babysitter or care provider but rather a caring facilitator of the child's journey toward emotional, cognitive, language, physical, and social development. The infant is an active partner in the process, and daily experiences move and flow with the baby's changing needs.

Stay in close contact with your child's day care provider. Make sure your child has a positive bond with her. And be involved enough to know that your child's needs are being met appropriately on the level of the child, not at the agenda of the adults. And then enjoy watching your little one emerge and grow into the person he/she was always meant to be!

1 comment:

  1. I have worked in a Daycare setting for many years and now own my own Dayhome. You the theory down perfectly!! It's child-directed curriculum and not the other way around. It's nice to see that people catching on to it. :)