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!
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.
In construction, a scaffold is a temporary structure used by workers to access heights and areas that are hard to get to. This is exactly what educators are doing when they scaffold for students. A student is having a hard time reaching a new height—understanding a concept, answering a question, or completing an activity—and the teacher provides just enough support to allow the student to succeed.
In this vlog, you'll hear an overview of Teacher Sensitivity and Facilitated Exploration at the Infant level. Mary-Margaret introduces Responsive Caregiving and how to improve interactions by looking at an infant's cues that the child may be trying to communicate a need as well as ways to support an infant's exploration.