When training on the Infant and Toddler CLASS, the importance of cue detection can’t be stressed enough to your participants. Infants and toddlers depend on a sensitive and responsive adult to recognize the messages or cues that they are sending. These "bids for attention" are the way then that children communicate, essentially asking adults to respond in a way that meets each child’s individual needs. And whether we are coding or caregiving, starting with cues is the way to go!
Infants depend on adults for physiological balance; they are "other-regulated." They need adults to soothe, to engage, to assist, and to help the infant learn how to communicate to have these needs met. The responses infants receive to their overt and more subtle messages lay the foundation for all development; their conception of how the world works happens as they grow.
Toddlers depend on adults to understand their attempts to become more independent—doing things for themselves, communicating with language, exploring and putting experiences together to form a better understanding for self-regulation and increasing social interaction and cognition.
So, it’s important that observers stay tuned-in to these cues as they drive the context for the response the adult provides. To do this, we want to train participants to watch the child: what are they communicating through actions, words, and sounds? These bids for attention are where you start. Then look to the adult: in that same moment, how do they respond? Did this response meet that child’s need? Perhaps it’s a hug in a moment of stress, a returned smile, a diaper change, a snack, or simply imitating a sound. Look again to the child—what was the response? Was the need met?
One terrific strategy we CLASS Specialists use while training is to have participants watch part of a video or an entire exemplar video with the sound muted. We ask participants to focus on the child and try to guess what that child is communicating—then we ask participants to watch again, this time with the sound on. We then reflect on what the adult did and whether that action matched the cue the child sent.
Share some of your strategies for training observers and teachers to focus on cues!
Teachers everywhere have yet another new challenge—supporting students and their families from home. We know that high-quality interactions, including interesting, hands-on experiences that are facilitated and supported with feedback, scaffolding, and higher-order thinking questions, best support young students' learning. So how do you help your students' caregivers offer the same high-quality interactions while at home? Well, Rachel Giannini has some super fun ideas to share! The following are ideas she shared during her session at our recent InterAct CLASS Summit.
When I first learned about CLASS Group Coaching—a training for early childhood professionals about building relationships with children—I was more than a little interested. This, I thought. This is what teaching is all about. It seems to be an obvious concept, but once we dig deeper, we are able to identify the whys and hows of our interactions. CLASS Group Coaching allows us to identify the benefits of our classroom relationships with our students and helps us be intentional in our daily practices. It allows us to utilize each moment we have with our students to deepen our understanding of their perspectives and genuinely connect with them as people. It helps us see the world from their view and guide their learning in a way that is relevant to them.
As an infant classroom teacher, you know that talking to babies is important. For instance, you tell the infants in your care what they are looking at (“You see the new block basket on the shelf!”). You label objects (“You have the red ball!”). And you describe events that take place in the classroom (“The tray just fell off the table! That scared you.”). These are all examples of talking with babies. Why, then, can it be so challenging to do this consistently in the classroom?
We all know people are naturally social beings—we need interactions to survive. But just because we’re naturally social doesn’t mean we know how to be social. We have to learn social behaviors—from our families, caregivers, and peers. Teachers play a key role in promoting social development, which includes peer play and friendships.