The learning curriculum for infants and toddlers
Documenting infants and toddlers learning
If you work with infants and toddlers, the requirement to plan for and document a learning programme can seem a little bit out of reach. This means it can feel like you are spending large portions of your day helping children with meals, changing diapers/nappies, in the sleep room helping the children sleep and keeping records of all of these routines on various charts for compliance purposes. So what does an infant and toddler curriculum look like?
How do you find time for planned activities? What learning can you document when children spend a lot of their day having care routines with their educators? And how can you link to the curriculum for a child that sleeps 3 times a day, and in their waking hours has bottles and food, diaper changes and only a short amount of time to explore?
Unfortunately, I am not here to offer you a teacher hack that magically gifts you 10 extra teachers allowing you to plan amazing activities that will make children’s learning and your teaching more visible!
I am going to tell you 4 words though, that changed the way I worked with infants and toddlers. These 4 words helped me switch my mindset, and become a better teacher. They helped me see what an infant and toddler curriculum actually looks like!
ROUTINES ARE THE CURRICULUM. It’s as simple as that!
Wellbeing and belonging – the foundations of learning
For infants and toddlers, their learning and development are so anchored in their well-being and sense of belonging, that we can sometimes feel that we are not doing enough to focus on their other areas of development.
But for very young children, their wellbeing and belonging are the absolute foundations for everything else! An infant and toddler curriculum starts here. Document their routines, use those precious caring moments to connect with them, smile with them, and talk with them.
Document the way they are learning to communicate with you when they are hungry. Celebrate they raise their arms in the air when you change their clothes. Show how they know that the sleep room is a quiet place where their friends are sleeping, and they can trust you to stay with them as they rest and fall asleep. Or how they point to the refrigerator when they are hungry. As they run to get their sunhat from their bag when going outside. For centres already using Storypark, documenting these times you spend using our Daily Routines feature, makes this a quick and easy process!
Accept that it looks different
An infant and toddler curriculum looks vastly different to a curriculum for older children. These are the moments where most of their learning and development is happening. The relationships they build with their educators and other children are at the heart of everything. Their awareness of the rhythm of the day at your centre. These small moments, when documented, show parents that you are in tune with their child. You offer their child a safe and secure place where their changing needs are anticipated and met with care and respect. You know their child well and you have a healthy relationship with him or her.
Of course, by documenting these routine related learning experiences, you are also helping families better understand the ways they themselves are supporting their child’s learning and development. This is the curriculum. This is where the most important learning takes place for infants and toddlers.
This article will help you better understand what respectful care for infants can look like from an RIE perspective here.
To help you with your planning, recording and keeping of records (which focuses on the suggestions mentioned above) we have a few templates that you can print off and use as you like. If you use Storypark, you can use them digitally – saving trees!