I have to admit, I cringe a little each time I walk into an infant classroom and see a monthly curriculum posted to the bulletin board. Usually it’s filled with age-appropriate activities that any baby would love. But there’s always that moment when I wonder, does this center feel the pressure to focus on pre-academic skills, even for their littlest clients?
So it’s heartening to see that Zero to Three is putting out a series (PDF) aimed at the thoughtful inclusion of infant and toddler classrooms in QRISs (Quality Rating and Improvement Systems). They point out how standards can be written to encourage real quality improvements by incentivizing things like continuity of care, developmental screenings, and, yes, developmentally appropriate curricula. At the core of their recommendations are standards to encourage relationships— relationships between caregivers and babies, between babies as peers, and between caregivers and families.
Centers and caregivers need that message so that they can focus on the things that really matter for babies. Infants grow at an amazing rate, and they have some key developmental tasks:
Caregivers do their most important work when they help infants meet these early goals. They do that by engaging in routine care and providing a safe environment, no doubt. But development really takes off when caregivers engage with babies face-to-face, sensitively respond to their individual needs, help them explore their world, and use lots of language and vocalizations along the way.
The core principles in Zero to Three’s new series are closely aligned with the work that my colleagues and I at Teachstone® strive to do. It has been (and will be) wonderful to watch as these principles increasingly make it into policy, as I believe they will; and it will be the advocacy and hard work from groups like Zero to Three to get us there.
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On November 9, 2021, Teachstone hosted the Building Confidence and Consistency in Your Head Start Program webinar with Sara Diamond, Director of Partnership Development at Teachstone, and Michelle Crawford, CLASS® Specialist.
Together, Sara and Michelle provided tips for helping educators dig deeper in their interactions and feel more confident in their teaching practice. Before diving into the tips for building confidence and consistency, Michelle shared a powerful quote from Lori Archer, a Head Start teacher:
November is National Family Engagement Month. As educators, we’re often focused on supporting children’s academic, social, and emotional growth in the classroom. But, it’s important to remember that families are a child’s first teacher. This month, we’re celebrating how to take learning home and support families’ opportunities to impact their child’s development and learning through the power of interactions.
As part of your family engagement initiatives this month (and beyond!), consider how you can help families understand and leverage their interactions at home. To help, check out these tips and tricks below that you can share with the families in your early childhood program!