Toddlers – Age of Early Independence and Self Discovery

If the infant stage is defined by dependence the toddler phase is defined by early independence.  With their new found mobility they love push and pull toys and to dance and climb.  It is important that a toddler safe environment is created for exploration and discovery.  This environment needs to be rich in materials and opportunities for self discovery to Image of a Toddler pretending to be a doctordevelop their sense of autonomy, independence and allow your toddler to take risks (not safety risks) during their day to build their imagination, creativity, and confidence.  We provide active play centers to keep them inspired, with books, puzzles, manipulative toys, blocks and more.  There are two outside play times to kick balls, and use push and pull toys, as well as, run and explore.   Toddlers and infants watch older students and siblings play together with their teachers on the playground.  At times they socialize at the classroom glass door, exchanging smiles and excitement.

One-year-olds are in the process of discovering the world.  Everything is new, exciting and needs to be discovered using their five senses.  They enjoy making things happen and in completing basic tasks, and want to do it over and over again once it is figured out, whether it is shaking bells to hear them chime or dropping an object into a bucket or container.  As they discover these things they learn about objects their textures and relationships, the beginning building blocks for science.

Children learn through play during age appropriate activities.  They love to play and it allows children to be active, make choices, and practice actions to master.  It’s best to have experiences with a wide variety of content because each is important for the development of a complex and integrated brain.  Image of Toddlers playing in the sand and water table, digging, sifting, and discovering the buried itemsPlay that links sensory-motor, cognitive, and social-emotional experiences in a fun and loving Christian environment provides an ideal setting for developing the very active toddlers brain.  We have play centers for building, dramatic play, sensory, art, science, music, manipulative play (puzzles, stacking, sorting, etc), books, and a quiet cozy corner for individual time.  We have plenty of duplicate and similar toys because with their new found mobility toddlers migrate to action areas where the teachers or other children are playing to play with the same or similar toys.  They play beside each other but not necessarily with each other, called parallel play.  This forms the basis for social interaction and eventually cooperation.  Parallel play also helps with the beginning of language development.

This age group allows more structure in activities, play, and schedules unlike infants where each child is on their own schedule.Image of a one-year-old waddler making 'her own' gingerbread man, gluing eyes and buttons on it Because of mobility teachers can plan and implement a more structured daily routine with more children on the same schedule.  As with each age the right amount of planned activities verses time for spontaneous activities is important, spontaneous activities are needed for independent discover and peer interaction as well as self motivation.  Planned activities introduce new experiences and ideas.  We also introduce circle time in this age group.  Circle time is where the theme of the week, and month can be emphasized through reading, singing and interaction with the group and individuals but in a group setting.  Children participate in a Christian circle time in the morning and a secular circle time in the afternoon.

Language Development

We continue the language stimulation techniques that In The Beginning infant teachers used called descriptive, parallel and self talk to encourage the onset of language.  These techniques are used to describe things they see and are doing as well as what the adults are doing.  This gives description to the activities that are occurring in their everyday experiences.  These techniques continue with toddlers along with additional techniques of expansion and expansion plus.  These techniques take what a toddler says and expands on it (expansion) or adds to it (expansion plus).  For example, a child might say, “more”, and a teacher “You want more snack” to expand it to a complete sentence.  A child might say, “bye, bye”, and the teacher “It’s time to get your coat and go bye, bye”, for expansion plus.  You can also do this at home to Image of Toddler circle time reading and discussing the Christian Bible storyhelp expand their verbal skills.  Parallel play, circle time, interaction with their peers, teachers talking and reading to them, and naming things in their environment all support language development.  The toddler absorbs the language around them to continually build their vocabularies.  They start to understand simple directions and common phrases found in their routine day.  They starting speaking single words and then add single word combinations.

This age group loves nursery rhymes and books with big pictures of single items on each page of familiar objects, like animals or toys.  The older toddlers may interact with these simple picture books by naming the pictures that have been named repeatedly for them.  They can also hold markers or crayons in their fist and enjoy making marks and scribbles but has no concept of writing or words yet.  They can turn pages of books and magazines not always one at a time.

Art and Dramatic Play

Interest in art and music at this age encourages fine and gross motor development as well as discovery:
Image of Toddler in music center playing xylophone

  • Art is focused on the various art materials like paint and play dough
  • Loves finger painting, scribbling with chalk and crayons, squeezing play dough though fingers
  • Discovers different textures in their environment through touch like walls, bricks, rocks, grass, sticks, trees and water
  • Enjoys music and will respond by swaying entire body, especially enjoys this while holding an adult’s hand



Math and Science

As your toddler plays they discover things about math and science:
Image of Toddlers working on puzzles

  • They begin developing math skills like sorting objects by one characteristic like hard or soft, or size
  • Understanding materials like hard, soft, rough and smooth are introduction to science
  • Do insert puzzles when each puzzle piece is a whole object

A child’s sense of time develops over the next several years.  As a young one (waddler) they start to recognize there is an order to the day, after eating lunch is nap time and after afternoon snack comes outside play, and Mommy picks me up after story-time.  Older ones (toddlers) start to develop a sense of time through the routine activities in the day, knows when it is time to eat, nap and go outside for play.

Parent – Teacher – Director Communication

In The Beginning uses daily scrolls to document all, feeding, diapering and sleeping times along with other important activities or milestones in your toddlers day.  Of course drop off and pick up are times you can fill us in what your one year old is doing at home and we can inform you of their day.  Director is always available for face to face or just pick up the phone and call for a check up or conversation at any time.

Just like we have three infant areas to group infants by age and development abilities, we have two one year old rooms for the same reason.  At In The Beginning we call the younger one’s room the Waddler room, and the older one’s room the Toddler room.  This allows each age group and class room environment to be specifically arranged and curriculum designed to meet their developmental needs with the most appropriate manipulative toys and other materials.

Waddler Room – Early Walking and Beginning Independence

The Waddler room is designed for early walking and early independence.  The tables, chairs, and bookshelves are shorter to accommodate their size better and can be used for balancing and moving around.  Manipulative toys and other materials are also selected for the rooms to meet development needs and abilities for this age group.  They start practicing self-help skills like hand washing, picking up their toys and sharing with their friends.  They are introduced to eating as a group and using utensils.  Also group circle time is initiated with secular and Bible themes.  Teachers are always available to lend a hand, get involved, demonstrate good citizenship values, to be a friend, and give out lots of love and hugs, and to assist for successful early independence.

Toddler Room

More challenging manipulative toys can be introduced in the toddler room.  Their attention span is longer for group activities and circle time.  Even though parallel play continues to dominate their day, teachers help direct play and activities into social moments of interactive learning.  Image of two toddlers hugging and expressing love for each otherCitizen and social interaction is introduced in all rooms but in the toddler room is where children start to act on it.  They are emphasized and reinforced in circle time and during independent play.  Children this age also become more able to express their own ideas and feelings.  Teachers watch for signals and assist when necessary in helping them express these ideas and feelings.

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