We have been listening. We hear you! Toddlers. How do we cater for their developmental needs and emotional well being without providing them with a watered down preschool curriculum or a revved up infant curriculum? In many centres the toddler programme is not cutting the mustard, is it? Toddlers are in a league of their own and it’s not always recognised or acknowledged.
Toddlers are at such a crucial important stage in their lives. They are starting to come into their own. They are walking and starting to talk. Their brains are making a big leap and they are transferring from an unconscious absorbent mind, to a conscious absorbent mind. You can see it in the development of their will!
Think about the growth the toddler has been going through over the last two years. From an infant at birth who couldn’t lift their head to a running two year old, jumping, climbing, squatting. Physically, movement is obviously a big one in the development of the toddler. They need to move. Bunnies hop, fish swim, birds fly, and toddlers jump, climb, run, anything that moves their body.
MOVE to learn and LEARN to move
Toddlers are at the stage where they love exploring their own limits, physically and mentally. They find joy in their own balance and developing a relationship with gravity. They thrive on getting that inner sense of "I am, I can, I do myself".
This is a critical stage of moving to learn and learning to move and developing the inextricable link with movement and joy is something magical. Sadly, too often a well meaning adult zips in and jumps INTO-FEAR, and interferes where they are not needed.
"Do less, observe more." - Magda Gerber
Yes, watching a toddler climbing onto the couch, or working their way up the steps, there may be some struggle and some challenge but to see the triumph over some small struggles is brilliant as this is reinforcing those early pathways of intrinsic motivation and self awareness. That disposition to persist with some difficulty.
It’s our role as teachers working with toddlers to stand back, observe, and let them move and unfold naturally. It is like observing a dancer, moving with eloquence and grace, nimble and fluid. Childhood is a journey and each child has a unique pace. Allow and celebrate every part of this journey for wherever the child is at the time.
Pottering and tinkering, building up a body of knowledge through every cell
We believe that with toddlers we underestimate their capabilities and overestimate their need for contrived activities. They really need so little in terms of toys and set ups and hours spent on creating sensory activities. Life is their sensory activity.
Toddlers need to potter. They need items for urges - transporting, containing, enveloping etc. They need lots of time to go back to the same, not shelves swapped constantly and one offs with a teacher.
They are so aware and they want to be like us. So they don't just need to potter but they need to see us pottering! It’s this that is so often missing in our centres. An adult pottering along doing homely things.
It can be as simple as an extra basket or peg or cloth available for the little one. Just carry on with your task, don’t make a big hurrah about ,'planning' how to get them to participate.
Toddlers are trying to make sense of their world. That is their 'work'! That comes through their efforts and observations and just being their busy little selves.
They need time, not a ton of transitions. They need to be seen for their amazing way of exploring and problem solving, not as little people to stimulate and 'educate'.
What toddlers need is a home and a garden. And an adult who gives them time to potter, and even better, who potters around them!
It's Time for our Toddlers, to get the focus and attention they need and they deserve. We have created resources to help you prepare a environment for toddlers that is not just 'good enough' but is exceptional. Want to know more? Check out our new toolkit "A Heart for Toddlers".