The following HALLMARKS OF EXCELLENT CARE GIVING are grounded in scientific knowledge of how babies learn and are of vital importance of relationships in supporting the child’s development:
• Relationship-Centered Care – Caring, playful, curious adults develop personal relationships with each young child and family. They tune in to the child’s verbal and nonverbal communications, respond to the overtures and distress signals, and delight in the accomplishments and discoveries.
• Promotion of Health and Well Being – Children’s basic needs for nutrition, sleep, activity, stimulation, comfort, cuddling and security are met in ways that are attuned to individual needs and patterns of development and promote competence and connection to others.
• Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Care – Teachers, family members, and other adults collaborate to help each child develop a positive sense of self and feel “at home” in the group.
• Interactions and Planned Activities that Promote Learning – A flexible, responsive program of learning and play opportunities engages children’s curiosity and evolving capacities. Learning activities address physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive development in a balanced, integrated way.
• A Rich Language Environment – Children have interesting things to talk about and interested people to talk to. Adults talk with babies and toddlers throughout the day, encouraging and extending their nonverbal and verbal communications. Books provide springboards for extended conversation.
• A Playful Approach – Adults play with children individually and in small groups, following children’s leads. They set up activities that encourage peer interaction and they use music, fantasy, ritualized games and pretend play to make care giving routines enjoyable.
I Ask You: What is your favorite activity with the infant or toddler?
• Reflective, Planful Care – Adults “watch, wait, and wonder,” reflecting on the meaning of children’s behaviors. They share it with family members for interpreting the actions.
• Positive, Developmentally Supportive Guidance and Discipline – Caregivers help children to regulate their emotions and behavior, gradually withdrawing support as children mature. Adults help children set age-appropriate limits, offer choices, and explanations, and prepare children for new experiences and transitions. They provide toddlers with opportunities to be helpful and assist them in resolving conflicts. Children hear many more “yes’s” than “no’s.”
• Inclusive, Strength-Based Care – Therapeutic services and supports for any children with special needs are integrated in the ongoing activities of the group in ways that consider everyone’s needs and strengths and promote inclusion.
• Commitment, Collaboration and Advocacy – Caregivers work with other professionals, families, and community members to advance the early childhood profession and the well-being of infants, toddlers, and their families.
Next week, Part 3, “WHO ARE TODDLERS?”