There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
What distinguishes an interaction as a high-quality, effective interaction that promotes learning and development? Intentionality! When I hear “intention,” I think “purpose.” To teach with intention means to teach with purpose. Think about the language used in the CLASS® manual for the dimensions: Facilitation of Learning and Development (FLD) and Facilitated Exploration (FE). Expansion. Engagement. Encouragement. These terms provide a picture of an experience that is dynamic, energetic, pleasant, and full of growth! And, full of purpose.
“That’s great, Megin...but what does this even look like? What do I DO?” Ok, let’s get down to good stuff; three often underrated opportunities for FLD and FE:
Diaper Changes and Potty Breaks
Many of the teachers in my CDA with CLASS courses often describe “everyday” acts that are actually amazing strategies to promote learning and development. Here are a few examples:
A lot can happen in a 5 minute diaper change or potty break!
Transitions can feel tense or chaotic at times. Or, because we try to keep transitions brief, it can feel like there isn’t enough time to squeeze in any learning. Use transition times to your benefit as fun, lighthearted learning opportunities:
The beautiful thing about expanding children’s cognition is that the focus is on the expanding, not necessarily an activity itself.
How many times have you cut food for a toddler? Or watched a one year old use their fingers to try and pick up the food on their tray? Filled a bottle for an infant? My guess is… a lot! During these times, there is often some conversation. But, there is also an opportunity to move from being “involved” to being “intentional.” Here are a few more of my favorite strategies from teachers in the CDA with CLASS program:
By intentionally ceasing these moments of an infant’s or toddler’s day, teachers can facilitate exploration, learning, and development. Sometimes, these learning moments may not look all that “academic.” Infants and toddlers may not be able to respond in full sentences, but that’s ok! That doesn’t mean there is no cognition happening. Remember, infants’ and toddlers’ receptive language far exceeds their expressive language.
Play = learning. The longer a child plays or engages, the more learning that is taking place. The longer you engage with them, the longer they will stay engaged.
Receive timely updates delivered straight to your inbox.
Teachstone recently hosted the What Is “Quality” Teaching Anyway? webinar with Laura Iannazzo, Professional Services Manager at Teachstone, and Gena Puckett, Education and Training Specialist from the University of Mississippi School of Education. Together, they talked about the significance of quality interactions between early childhood educators and infants or toddlers in their care.
In our recent webinar, Making the Move to CLASS® 2nd Edition, we shared how programs and individuals can begin to experience and use the enhanced Pre-K–3rd CLASS® tool. And, in this recent blog post we took a closer look at what these enhancements mean for certified observers.
To engage in continuous quality improvement, effective coaching is key. With effective coaching structures and programs in place, organizations can drive quality improvements that support children's development and learning. And, with CLASS® and CLASS coaching certifications, organizations can focus their improvements on research-proven educator-child interactions.
I moved to the United States years ago when I was a teenager. I felt confused, scared, and out of place in my new school. As soon as I learned English, I decided to stop speaking my native language to hide who I was. I thought that by hiding my identity people would not notice I was different, and accept me.
Today starts the kick-off to another Week of the Young Child! While I, and I know others at Teachstone, feel strongly that young children, their educators, and their families deserve to be celebrated every day, we’re excited to have an opportunity to intentionally highlight the impact you have on young children, celebrate the rapidly developing brains of young children, and recognize that each day, even beyond this week, offers ample opportunities for meaningful interactions.