From crawling comes walking, and with walking comes a sense of independence and freedom.
Children have a natural sense of curiosity and wonder about the world, and the ability to walk makes exploring and investigating all that much easier for them.
This is generally when children enter what is commonly known as “terrible two’s”. Although we know that toddlers aren’t terrible, they are just learning and trying to make sense of the big wide world. They are full of energy, wonder, passion and motivation.
Toddler hood is a small window of opportunity and the amount of care, patience, and love received during these years will pave the foundation for lifelong learning.
Common challenges for toddlers include;
- Learning boundaries
- Developing verbal communication
- Gaining control of their bodies
- Discovering and developing ways to be creative and expressive
- Learning how to navigate their emotions.
Toddler hood is a fine balance between their growing independence and their dependence on adults to take care of their needs. Managing this balance can be tricky and daunting for some but take some comfort in knowing that toddlers thrive on challenges, comforting rituals and loving care moments.
Take a deep breath, then breathe some more
Lower your voice, then lower some more
Soften your hands, then soften some more
Find your sense of calm, then find some more
Open your heart, then open it some more”
THE HEART SCHOOL
Once we understand and get to know toddlers, we are then able to respond to what they are telling us. Te Whāriki ( New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum) provides some key curriculum requirements for toddlers.
- A secure environment and a programme that provides both challenge and predictable routines
- Opportunities for independent exploration and movement
- A flexible approach – with spontaneity and a pace that allows toddlers to try things themselves
- Adults who encourage toddlers’ cognitive skills and language development
- Responsive and predictable adults who understand and accept their developmental swings.
Research also shows that toddlers need to develop secure relationships to promote cognitive and emotional growth, small group sizes and an environment that is calm, relaxed, and unhurried. Based on this, home-based care ticks all the boxes. Educators are able to really get to know the children, can offer flexibility in their day and provide loving spaces for children to explore and play.
“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe” THE HEART SCHOOL
Observing children at play is one of the easiest ways to really get to know the child. Sometimes as adults, we are rushing around multitasking but by simply slowing down and watching children at play it is easy so see what they are trying to tell us. In Early childhood education we call this a holistic approach. Toddlers have a lot going on and sometimes we miss what they are trying to communicate to us.
The environment plays a big part in ensuring a smooth transition through toddler hood. Having lots of one object is ideal, as this stops children arguing about who’s is who. Loose parts are preferred as this encourages imagination and creativity. Loose parts and open-ended resources also allow children to take control of their learning, empowering them to follow their own ideas, interests and urges.
When you are setting up your environment for toddlers, keep their motor development in mind. Ensure that the learning environment has plenty of space for (usually VERY) active exploration and constantly scan for possible hazards.
It is impossible to prevent all accidents and injuries, but it is crucial that we create an environment, where toddlers feel safe and secure, so that their energy can all be channeled towards their learning and development.
“Toddlers with a zest for life need carers with a zest for toddlers”
THE HEART SCHOOL