Let's talk today about the CLASS tool being used for infants and toddlers. You may be familiar with the fact that the Infant measure (birth to 18 months) has one domain—Responsive Caregiving— with four dimensions, while the Toddler measure (15-36 months) has two domains—Emotional and Behavioral Support and Engaged Support for Learning—with eight dimensions.
These tools share some similarities. Both tools are driven by the cues of the child—which can be subtle or quite apparent—though the meaning of the cues requires thoughtful response by the adult. They also both look at the connection between the child and caregiver, and how the adult's responses meet the developmental needs of the child. And of course, both consider the effectiveness of the interactions to build opportunities for growth and development.
Think about the similarities and the differences of the CLASS measures that I mention in my video below.
Did you pick up on what's so different from toddlers than infants? Why is there a need for two different tools?
Infants are driven by their need to connect with an adult to regulate their physiological state. They relay on their caregivers not only for warmth and nurturing, but also to provide safety and the ability to explore and process new experiences. In other words, infants become one with their provider.
Toddlers, on the other hand, still need that connection to their caregiver, but they are beginning to see themselves as an individual. This sense of individuality is key. Because of their new-found sense of self, toddlers love to test the limits and explore the world (as we all know!). So, the role of effective caregivers has now changed. Caregivers begin to help the toddler navigate their own expressions of strong feelings, beginnings of self-regulation, and exploration through supportive and sensitive responses.