Upon entering the infant classroom, your child, beginning at six weeks old, will be welcomed by a peaceful team of well-trained educators specialized in the development of children younger than age 2. These teachers strive to connect, predict, and serve each child’s needs and temperament by following the infant’s natural rhythms, matching both parent expectations as well as the constantly changing needs of the child who is physically and cognitively growing every day. Infants’ needs dictate the flow of the day with teachers adjusting accordingly to ensure all children thrive in this family-like setting.
Children are steeped in a safe and secure environment, tailored to this age group where the room is set up as a second home, with places to explore, play, and listen to books and songs. Teachers use rich language and a soft tone to narrate and explain to the child each transition in the day, such as the changing of a diaper or the preparing of a bottle. Specially designed areas for eating promote the child’s freedom of movement and physical development. In place of high chairs, baby rockers allow the infant to be held when drinking a bottle and low weaning seats prepare the child for eating. There is table space for meal times, where teachers sit, assist, and model for the children. Children are also able to rest when tired. Assigned, low beds are available to each child during restful periods of the day, and teachers use various soothing techniques to assure the infant receives necessary sleep.
Cognitively and physically, children are exposed to age-appropriate surroundings and activities. Children spend time outside in a stroller exploring the shade of the trees and enjoying the beauty of the grounds when possible. Further learning is established and explored through the use of objects and sensorial, didactic materials designed to stimulate the senses of a young child. Teachers utilize designated portions of the day to practice belly time, rolling, creeping, sitting up, and crawling, all milestones expected for the infant.
So what comes after the infant masters these milestones? As the child transitions from infancy to toddlerhood and begins to achieve the developmental markers that lead to sturdily standing and walking or toddling, they move into the Young Toddlers classroom. Here, even more stimulating works and opportunities for developing independence, language, and motor needs await them. Children begin to operate on a more structured schedule, providing order and security for the young child who is beginning to see himself as separate from the adult.
Cognitive abilities begin to rapidly grow; language and vocabulary increase, as does the exploration of the entire world around them as children this age learn about new groups of animals, new variations of colors, and new ways of expressing their needs to not just adults but also to their peers. Between 15 and 18 months, children find a new awareness of themselves and often know what they want, but can still have trouble expressing it. Body language or even hand signals are used, often before the acquisition of necessary words. Teachers help this process by acknowledging and giving language to the process by narrating what the child is trying to accomplish.
The environment becomes more heavily infused with hands-on materials that promote both fine and large motor development. Children begin practical life skills, learning basic self care, such as dressing and self-feeding. They contribute to and explore their environments more independently, engaging with shelf work and even some group activities. Along the way, the essence of a truly personalized approach, taking each child’s unique development and temperament into consideration, is not lost all while preparing and empowering this tender age group for the next phase of their cognitive and physical growth.