Due today …. 7 hours ….. half page

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this is due in 7 hours and not hard. Maybe half page

Read chapter 2 in attachment and do the following: 

 Give one example of how you would apply your understanding of ‘theories of development’ to Physical and Cognitive interactions with infants and toddlers. Be specific in your example, giving a ‘real life’ scenario including at least two (2) meaningful quotes/references to your text to support your answer. 

Half page should be ok. 

No cover page and no reference needed

01010_FM_rev02.indd 4 9/25/15 3:33 PM

Terri Jo Swim
Indiana University–Purdue University

Ninth Edition

Infants and Toddlers

Caregiving and responsive CurriCulum development

Australia • Brazil • Mexico • Singapore • United Kingdom • United States

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Printed in the United States of America
Print Number: 01 Print Year: 2015

Infants and Toddlers: Caregiving and
Responsive Curriculum Development,
Ninth Edition
Terri Jo Swim

Product Director: Marta Lee-Perriard

Product Manager: Mark Kerr

Content Developer: Kassi Radomski

Marketing Manager: Christine Sosa

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WCN: 02-200-203

Brief Contents

Chapter 1 Taking a Developmental Perspective 1

Chapter 2 Physical and Cognitive/Language Development 22

Chapter 3 Social and Emotional Development 49

Chapter 4 Attachment and the Three As 84

Chapter 5 Effective Preparation and Tools 98

pa r t o n e Understanding the Foundations of Professional Education 1

pa r t t w o Establishing a Positive Learning Environment 124

Chapter 6 Building Relationships and Guiding Behaviors 124

Chapter 7 Supportive Communication with Families and Colleagues 148

Chapter 8 The Indoor and Outdoor Learning Environments 175

Chapter 9 Designing the Curriculum 211

pa r t t h r e e Developing Responsive Curriculum 240

Chapter 10 Early Intervention 240

Chapter 11 Teaching Children Birth to Twelve Months 261

Chapter 12 Teaching Children Twelve to Twenty-Four Months 295

Chapter 13 Teaching Children Twenty-Four to Thirty-Six Months 318

Chapter 14 Developmentally Appropriate Content 343

appENdix a Tools for Observing and Recording 378

appENdix B Standards for Infant/Toddler Caregivers 402

appENdix C Board Books 408

appENdix d Picture Books 413

References 419

Glossary 452

Index 459

iii

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

Contents

Chapter 1 Taking a Developmental
Perspective 1
1-1 Developmental Areas 3

1-2 Theories of Child Development 5
Spotlight on Research: Essential Life Skills for Infants 8

1-2a Unique Patterns of Development 9
READING CHECKPOINT 10

1-3 Current Trends in Development and
Education 10
1-3a Microsystem Trends 11
1-3b Mesosystem Trends 15
Family and Community Connection 16

1-3c Exosystem Trends 16
Spotlight on Organizations: WestEd’s Program for
Infant/Toddler Care 17

1-3d Macrosystem Trends 17

1-4 Valuing Cultural Diversity 19
READING CHECKPOINT 20

Summary 20
CaSE Study 21
additioNaL rESourCES 21

Chapter 2 Physical and Cognitive/
Language Development 22
2-1 Differences between Development

and Learning 23

2-2 Patterns of Physical Development 24
2-2a Brain Development 24
Family and Community Connection 27

Spotlight on Shaken Baby Syndrome: Causes and Effects 28

2-2b Physical Growth 28
2-2c Hearing and Vision Development 29
Spotlight on Research: Vision in Infants and Toddlers 30

2-2d Motor Development 30
READING CHECKPOINT 32

2-3 Patterns of Cognitive and Language
Development 33
2-3a Cognitive Development: Piaget’s Theory of Reasoning 33
2-3b Cognitive Development: Vygotsky’s Sociocultural

Theory 39
2-3c Language Development 42
READING CHECKPOINT 46

Summary 46
CaSE Study 47
proFESSioNaL rESourCE doWNLoad ❯❯ LESSoN
pLaN 48
additioNaL rESourCES 48

Chapter 3 Social and Emotional
Development 49
3-1 Patterns of Emotional Development 50

3-1a Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory 51
3-1b Separate and Together 53
3-1c Temperament 55
3-1d Emotional Intelligence and the Brain 58
Spotlight on Effortful Control: What Is It and Why
Is Important? 64

READING CHECKPOINT 68

3-2 Patterns of Social Development 68
3-2a Attachment Theory 68
Spotlight on Research: Father-Child Interactions and
Developmental Outcomes 73

3-2b Relationships with Peers 74
3-2c Self-Esteem 76
3-2d Prosocial Behaviors 78
Family and Community Connection 79

READING CHECKPOINT 81

Summary 81
CaSE Study 81
proFESSioNaL rESourCE doWNLoad ❯❯ LESSoN
pLaN 82
additioNaL rESourCES 83

pa r t o n e Understanding the Foundations of Professional Education 1

Preface xi

About the Author xvii

Acknowledgments xviii

v

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pa r t t w o Establishing a Positive Learning Environment 124

Chapter 4 Attachment and the
Three As 84
4-1 The Attachment Debate and the Roles of

Caregivers 85
READING CHECKPOINT 88

4-2 The Three As: Attention, Approval,
and Attunement 88
Spotlight on Research: Infant Persistence 89

4-2a Attention 89
Family and Community Connection 91

4-2b Approval 91
4-2c Attunement 92
READING CHECKPOINT 95

Summary 95
CaSE Study 96
proFESSioNaL rESourCE doWNLoad ❯❯ LESSoN
pLaN 96
additioNaL rESourCES 97

Chapter 5 Effective Preparation
and Tools 98
5-1 Characteristics of a Competent Early

Childhood Educator 99
5-1a Physically and Mentally Healthy 99
5-1b Positive Self-Image 99
5-1c Caring and Respectful 100

5-2 Acquiring Professional Knowledge, Skills, and
Dispositions 100
5-2a Knowledge about Children and Families 101

5-2b Knowledge about Early Child Care
and Education 101

5-2c Knowledge about Partnerships 103
5-2d Knowledge about Advocacy 103
5-2e Professional Skills 104
5-2f Professional Dispositions 104
READING CHECKPOINT 105

5-3 Professional Preparation of the Early
Childhood Educator 105
Spotlight on Organization: World Association for Infant
Mental Health 106

5-3a Impact of Teacher Education on
Quality of Care and Education 106

Family and Community Connection 109

READING CHECKPOINT 110

5-4 Observing Young Children to Make
Educational Decisions 110
5-4a Observe and Record 110
5-4b Tools for Observing and Recording 112
5-4c Analysis 119
Spotlight on Research: Culturally Appropriate
Assessment 120

5-4d Using the Data 121
READING CHECKPOINT 121

Summary 121
CaSE Study 122
proFESSioNaL rESourCE doWNLoad ❯❯ LESSoN
pLaN 122
additioNaL rESourCES 123

Chapter 6 Building Relationships
and Guiding Behaviors 124
6-1 Reggio Emilia Approach

to Infant-Toddler Education 125
6-1a Philosophy 126
6-1b Image of the Child 126
6-1c Inserimento 128
READING CHECKPOINT 129

6-2 A Developmental View of Discipline 129
6-2a Mental Models 130
Family and Community Connection 131

READING CHECKPOINT 132

6-3 Strategies for Communicating about
Emotions 133
6-3a Labeling Expressed Emotions 134

6-3b Teaching Emotional Regulation 136
Spotlight on Research: Infants and Divorce 137

READING CHECKPOINT 139

6-4 Self-Regulation as a Foundation for
Perspective-Taking 139
6-4a Setting Limits 141
6-4b Establishing Consequences 142
6-4c Providing Choices 142
6-4d Redirecting Actions 143
6-4e Solving Problems 144
READING CHECKPOINT 145

Summary 145
CaSE Study 146
proFESSioNaL rESourCE doWNLoad ❯❯ LESSoN
pLaN 146
additioNaL rESourCES 147

ContentSvi

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

Chapter 7 Supportive Communication
with Families and Colleagues 148
7-1 Skills for Effective Communication 150

7-1a Rapport Building 150
7-1b I Statements versus You Statements 151
7-1c Active Listening: The “How” in Communication 151
READING CHECKPOINT 153

7-2 Communications with Families 153
7-2a Using Active Listening with Families 153
Spotlight on Organization: Child Care Resource
and Referral Agencies 155

7-2b Partnering with Families 159
7-2c Family Education 160
7-2d Supporting Relationships between Families 160
7-2e Family-Caregiver Conferences 161
7-2f Home Visits 163
READING CHECKPOINT 163

7-3 Family Situations Requiring
Additional Support 164
7-3a Grandparents as Parents 164
7-3b At-Risk Families and Children 164
Family and Community Connections 165

Spotlight on Research: Prolonged Separations for
Young Children: Parental Incarceration and Military
Deployment 166

7-3c Teenage Parents 169
READING CHECKPOINT 170

7-4 Communicating with Colleagues 170
7-4a Collaborating with Colleagues 171
7-4b Supporting Colleagues 172
7-4c Making Decisions 172
READING CHECKPOINT 172

Summary 173
CaSE Study 173
proFESSioNaL rESourCE doWNLoad ❯❯ LESSoN
pLaN 174
additioNaL rESourCES 174

Chapter 8 The Indoor and Outdoor
Learning Environments 175
8-1 The Teacher’s Perspective 177

8-1a Learning Centers 177
8-1b  Real Objects versus Open-Ended Materials 178
8-1c  Calm, Safe Learning Environment 180
Spotlight on Research: Rough and Tumble Play 182

8-1d  Basic Needs 183
READING CHECKPOINT 184

8-2 The Child’s Perspective 184
8-2a  Transparency 185

8-2b Flexibility 186
8-2c Relationships 187
8-2d Identity 188
8-2e Movement 188
8-2f Documentation 189
8-2g Senses 190
8-2h Representation 191
8-2i Independence 191
8-2j Discovery 191
READING CHECKPOINT 192

8-3 Society’s Perspective 193
8-3a Environmental Changes for the Classroom 193
Family and Community Connections 194

8-3b Curricular Changes 194
8-3c Partnerships and Advocacy 195
READING CHECKPOINT 196

8-4 Selecting Equipment and Materials 197
8-4a  Age-Appropriate Materials 199
8-4b Homemade Materials 201
READING CHECKPOINT 201

8-5 Protecting Children’s Health
and Safety 201
8-5a Emergency Procedures 202
8-5b Immunization Schedule 202
8-5c Signs and Symptoms of Possible

Severe Illness 202
8-5d First Aid 203
8-5e Universal Precautions 204
8-5f Playground Safety 206
READING CHECKPOINT 207

Summary 207
CaSE Study 208
proFESSioNaL rESourCE doWNLoad ❯❯ LESSoN
pLaN 209
additioNaL rESourCES 210

Chapter 9 Designing the Curriculum 211
9-1 Influences on the Curriculum 212

9-1a Influences from Cultural Expectations 213
9-1b Influences from the Care Setting 216
9-1c Influences from the Child 219
READING CHECKPOINT 219

9-2 Routine Care Times 220
9-2a Flexible Schedule 220
Spotlight on SIDS: Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome (SIDS) 221

Spotlight on Dental Health: Access to
Dental Care 225

READING CHECKPOINT 229

viiContentS

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9-3 Planned Learning Experiences 229
9-3a Daily Plans 230
Family and Community Connections 232

9-3b Weekly Plans 232
Spotlight on Research: Infant Brain Development 233

READING CHECKPOINT 237

Summary 237
CaSE Study 238
proFESSioNaL rESourCE doWNLoad ❯❯ LESSoN
pLaN 238
additioNaL rESourCES 239

pa r t t h r e e Developing Responsive Curriculum 240

Chapter 10 Early Intervention 240
CaSE Study 241

10-1 What Is Early Intervention? 241
Spotlight on Terminology: Talking about Early
Intervention 242

Spotlight on Research: Infant Mental Health 243

10-2 Types and Tiers of Early Intervention 244

10-3 From Special Needs to Special Rights 247

10-4 The Need for Family Capacity-Building 248
Spotlight on Research: Early Intervention and Building
Collaborative Partnerships 249

Family and Community Connections 250

READING CHECKPOINT 250

10-5 The Evaluation and Assessment
Process 250
10-5a The Role of Teachers 250
10-5b The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) 251
10-5c Natural Environments 252

10-6 Characteristics and Care of Children with
Special Rights 253
10-6a Physical and Cognitive Development 253
10-6b Social and Emotional Development 255
READING CHECKPOINT 257

Summary 257
CaSE Study 258
proFESSioNaL rESourCE doWNLoad ❯❯ LESSoN
pLaN 259
additioNaL rESourCES 260

Chapter 11 Teaching Children Birth
to Twelve Months 261

CaSE Study 262

11-1 Materials 262
11-1a Types of Materials 263

11-2 Caregiver Strategies to Enhance
Development 263
Spotlight on Organizations: Zero to Three 265

11-2a Physical Development 265

Spotlight on Research: Breast-Feeding and Later
Development 273

READING CHECKPOINT 275

11-2b Cognitive Development 275
Family and Community Connection 277

Spotlight on Practice: Voices from the Field 279

11-2c Language Development 280
11-2d Emotional Development 283
11-2e Social Development 287
Spotlight on Research: Attachment to Objects 289

READING CHECKPOINT 292

Summary 292
CaSE Study 293
proFESSioNaL rESourCE doWNLoad ❯❯ LESSoN
pLaN 293
additioNaL rESourCES 294

Chapter 12 Teaching Children Twelve
to Twenty-Four Months 295

CaSE Study 296

12-1 Materials 296
Spotlight on Practice: Voices from the Field 298

12-1a Types of Materials 298

12-2 Caregiver Strategies to Enhance
Development 298
12-2a Physical Development 298
READING CHECKPOINT 299

12-2b Cognitive Development 299
Spotlight on Organizations: National Association for
the Education of Young Children 302

12-2c Language Development 303
READING CHECKPOINT 306

12-2d Emotional Development 306
Family and Community Connections 308

READING CHECKPOINT 311

12-2e Social Development 311
Spotlight on Research: Peer Interactions of Young
Toddlers 312

READING CHECKPOINT 315

ContentSviii

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Summary 315
caSe Study 315
PrOFeSSIONaL reSOurce dOWNLOad ❯❯ LeSSON
PLaN 316
addItIONaL reSOurceS 317

Chapter 13 Teaching Children Twenty-
Four to Thirty-Six Months 318

caSe Study 319

13-1 Materials 319
13-1a Types of Materials 319
13-1b Activity Ideas 321

13-2 Caregiver Strategies to Enhance
Development 322
13-2a Physical Development 322
13-2b Cognitive Development 324
Spotlight on Practice: Voices from the Field 325

13-2c Language Development 326
Spotlight on Research: Adult Depression and Infant
Cognitive Development 328

Family and Community Connections 330

READING CHECKPOINT 331

13-2d Emotional Development 331
13-2e Social Development 335
Spotlight on Research: Conflicts with Peers 336

READING CHECKPOINT 340

Summary 340
caSe Study 341
PrOFeSSIONaL reSOurce dOWNLOad ❯❯ LeSSON
PLaN 341
addItIONaL reSOurceS 342

Chapter 14 Developmentally Appropriate
Content 343

caSe Study 344

14-1 Big Ideas That Guide Work 344
Family and Community Connections 345

14-2 Central Concepts of the
Content Areas 345
14-2a Emergent Literacy 346
Spotlight on Practice: Voices from the Field 349

READING CHECKPOINT 355

14-2b Mathematics 356
Spotlight on Practice: Voices from the Field 360

14-2c Fine Arts 360
14-2d Social Studies 363
14-2e Science 366
Spotlight on Research: Toddlers and Media 367

READING CHECKPOINT 370

14-3 Teaching with Content Learning
in Mind 370
Spotlight on Curriculum: High-Quality
Program Models 373

Closing Note 374
READING CHECKPOINT 375

Summary 375
caSe Study 376
PrOFeSSIONaL reSOurce dOWNLOad ❯❯ LeSSON
PLaN 376
addItIONaL reSOurceS 377

appendix a Tools for Observing
and Recording 378
PrOFeSSIONaL reSOurce dOWNLOad ❯❯ Developmental
Milestones (Combination of Checklist and Rating
Scale) 379

Approximately Birth to Four Months of Age 379
Approximately Four to Eight Months of Age 382
Approximately Eight to Twelve Months of Age 385
Approximately Twelve to Eighteen Months of Age 387
Approximately Eighteen to Twenty-Four Months of Age 389
Approximately Twenty-Four to Thirty Months of Age 392
Approximately Thirty to Thirty-Six Months of Age 394

PrOFeSSIONaL reSOurce dOWNLOad ❯❯ Running Record 396

PrOFeSSIONaL reSOurce dOWNLOad ❯❯ Anecdotal
Record 397

PrOFeSSIONaL reSOurce dOWNLOad ❯❯ Indoor Safety
Checklist 398

PrOFeSSIONaL reSOurce dOWNLOad ❯❯ Playground Safety
Checklist 400

appendix B Standards for Infant/Toddler
Caregivers 402

Appendix Overview 402
CDA Competency Standards for Infant/Toddler
Caregivers in Center-Based Programs 402

NAEYC Standards for Early Childhood Professional
Preparation 405

NAEYC Standards for Early Childhood Professional
Preparation Programs 405

Early Childhood Field Experiences 407

appendix C Board Books 408
Alphabet 408

Animals/Pets 408

Bedtime 409

Colors and Shapes 409

Family 409

Friendship/Teamwork 410

Language/Vocabulary 410

Numbers/Counting 410

ixContents

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Play/Adventure 411

Self-Awareness/-Emotions 411

Sign Language 412

Miscellaneous 412

appendix d Picture Books 413
Alphabet 413

Animals/Pets 413

Bedtime 414

Behavior/Manners 414

Counting/Shapes 415

Family 415

Friendship/Teamwork 416

Language/Vocabulary/Poetry 416

Play/Adventure 417

Self-Awareness/Emotions 418

References 419

Glossary 452

Index 459

ContentSx

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This revised, expanded, and updated edition was developed with the inten-
tion of guiding the reader through the acquisition of skills necessary to pro-
vide high-quality care for infants and toddlers in any educational setting.
Information based on current theories and research, as well as standards for
infant-toddler teacher preparation, is reflected throughout the book. The ninth
edition’s new subtitle, Caregiving and Responsive Curriculum Development,
better reflects the book’s goal of providing appropriate caregiving and edu-
cational techniques, along with curriculum ideas, for groups of very young
children and for individual children within those groups. Early childhood
educators, administrators, advocates, and parents will find practical informa-
tion that can be put to immediate use to promote the highest quality care and
education possible for all children, birth to age 3.

Major Revisions in the Ninth Edition
As with previous editions, Infants and Toddlers: Caregiving and Respon-
sive Curriculum Development, Ninth Edition, strives to bridge the gap
between theory and practice. As scholar-practitioners, teachers need to
use theory to inform their practice and in turn use their practice to inform
theoretical understanding. Building from the strong foundation of previ-
ous editions, the text has been updated and thoroughly revised. Although
notable differences set this edition apart from the previous edition, points
of continuity remain. For example, in this ninth edition, the child con-
tinues to be at the center of care and education. Defining infants and tod-
dlers as engaging, decision-making forces within their environments sets a
tone of excitement and enthusiasm. No longer can we afford to agree with
the description of toddlerhood as the “terrible twos.” Rather, we need to
embrace the image of the child as capable, competent, and creative. Doing
so opens a number of educational options that were unavailable previously.

Results of research on brain structures, functions, and development as
well as social and emotional development have been expanded as founda-
tions for this edition. For example, links among cortisol levels, parenting
behaviors, and memory skills for very young children are investigated. In
addition, incorporating key components of the high-quality infant-toddler
and preschool programs in Reggio Emilia, Italy, has improved our under-
standing of what developmentally appropriate practice looks like in action.
Respecting children; designing effective physical, social, and intellectual
environments; building partnerships with families; and planning individu-
ally appropriate curricula are discussed throughout this edition.

Major content revisions in this edition also include the following:

●● NEW Chapter 10, Early Intervention. This chapter takes an in-depth
look at early intervention. It was created based on reviewer feedback

Preface

xi

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

that indicated a need for a clearer focus on the care of and interventions
for infants and toddlers with special rights. Chapter 10 now highlights
the importance of collaboration among family members, caregivers,
and intervention specialists.

●● NEW Chapter 14, Developmentally Appropriate Content. Given the
national preoccupation with school readiness, a new chapter, Develop-
mentally Appropriate Content (Chapter 14), is now available. Older tod-
dlers are ready to explore and experience fine arts, science, mathematics,
literacy, and social studies. However, much guidance is provided on how
to do this in a way that complements and heightens young children’s
curiosity. In other words, these content areas must be taught through
engaging, integrated projects, rather than in terms of isolated facts.

●● NEW combined chapters. In response to reviewer feedback, the chap-
ters that discuss infant and toddler development have been combined
to eliminate repetition of content. So Chapters 10, 11, and 12 in the
eighth edition, which spanned birth to 12 months, are now covered in
Chapter 11, Teaching Children Birth to Twelve Months. The content in
Chapters 13 and 14 in the eighth edition, which covered children from
12 to 24 months, now appears in the ninth edition’s Chapter 12, Teach-
ing Children Twelve to Twenty-Four Months. Finally, the eighth edition
content in Chapters 15 and 16 now appears in Chapter 13, Teaching
Children Twenty-Four to Thirty-Six Months, in the ninth edition.

●● NEW research results. Results of new research and scholarly articles
have been incorporated into each chapter. For example, new research
on social and emotional development can be found in Chapter 3, Social
and Emotional Development; current thoughts about how aggression
may be normative behavior for toddlers is in Chapter 6, Building Rela-
tionships and Guiding Behaviors; and new information on compliance
for supporting health and safety guidelines can be found in Chapter 8,
The Indoor and Outdoor Learning Environments.

●● NEW concept coverage. Chapter 3 has a new Spotlight on Research box
that focuses on Effortful Control, a newer concept being investigated by
researchers.

New Instructional Features
To help aid the student’s comprehension and understanding of infant-toddler
development and learning, several new instructional features have been cre-
ated for the ninth edition.

●● A Lesson Plan now appears at the end of each chapter and can be digi-
tally downloaded. (They are called Professional Resource Downloads.)
The goal of this feature is to provide examples of lesson plans that
are grounded in observations of a young child and are respectful and
engaging through the use of responsive strategies.

●● Learning Objectives and Standards Addressed are now listed at the
beginning of each chapter. The learning objectives correlate directly
with major sections in the chapter, as well as with the Summary at the
end of each chapter.

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In each chapter, the list of Standards Addressed includes the
related 2010 NAEYC Standards for Initial and Advanced Early Child-
hood Professional Preparation Programs, NAEYC’s Developmentally
Appropriate Practices, and the NAEYC standards specific to infant and
toddler care.

●● Family and Community Connection boxed feature, which is now
included in every chapter, is intended to assist the readers in applying
strategies for engaging family and community agencies in the care and
education of young children. Each box contains a number of questions
to spark thinking about important concepts.

Enduring Instructional Features
●● A focus on professional standards with a Standards Correlation Chart

on the book’s inside front cover, which offers an at-a-glance view of
where discussions related to NAEYC’s Standards for Early Childhood
Professional Preparation and Developmentally Appropriate Practice
guidelines can be found. In addition, the DAP icon focuses read-
ers on principles of developmentally appropriate practice throughout
the text.

●● Spotlight boxed feature highlights key research topics, professional
child care organizations, the personal experiences of child care profes-
sionals to enhance the book’s real-world perspective.

●● In Spotlight on Practice “Voices from the Field,” found in Chap ters 11–14,
practicing teachers apply and reflect on concepts discussed in the
chapter. For example, in Chapter 14, a teacher discusses how she
incorporates literacy in her room by using local community resources,
and she reflects on how a specific child reacted to her selection of
books.

●● Reading Checkpoints included throughout each chapter help to
improve comprehension by asking students to pause and consider
what they have just read.

●● Revised Case Studies present real-life examples of the concepts and
principles discussed. The content of those cases, such as diversity or
special rights, is now highlighted in the title of the Case Study.

●● Updated references can be found at the end of the text.
●● A list of developmental milestones for children from birth to 36 months

is provided in Appendix A for the four major areas of development,
which assists caregivers in recording observations and assessing each
child’s current level of development.

●● Appendices C and D have been updated to provide a current list of
board and picture books that are appropriate to use with infants and
toddlers.

●● The text is current and comprehensive so that caregivers can acquire the
skills necessary to function at nationally accepted standards of quality.

●● The level of the language used is easy to follow and offers practical
examples for self-study by caregivers-in-training.

xiiiPrefACe

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Text Organization
part i understanding the Foundations of professional Education
This section prepares the reader as a professional educator who possesses
the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to meet effectively the
developmental and learning needs of infants and toddlers. An overview
of the theories and research in the fields of child development and early
childhood education, including new information on brain development
and attachment, helps lay that foundation.

●● Chapter 1 highlights the importance of taking a developmental per-
spective when working with infants and toddlers as well as an over-
view of trends in education and development that influence learning
environments for very young children.

●● Chapter 2 creates a framework for understanding the growth and
development of physical and cognitive/language areas from birth to
36 months.

●● Chapter 3 focuses on growth and development in the emotional and
social areas from birth to 36 months. In both Chapters 2 and 3, sec-
tions are devoted to expanding the readers’ information on brain
development.

●● Chapter 4 presents the master tools of caregiving—Attention, Approval,
and Attunement—as a model of conscious caregiving, combining prac-
tical principles and techniques from current theories and research in
the field.

●● Chapter 5 describes specific knowledge bases that professional edu-
cators acquire through informal and formal educational opportuni-
ties. One such knowledge base involves the appropriate assessment
of children. This chapter, then, focuses on various observational tools
for tracking development and learning, and how to use the data as the
groundwork for other aspects of the caregiver’s work.

part 2 Establishing a positive Learning Environment
Four chapters provide the reader with details about how to create appropriate
environments for very young children. Learning environments include con-
sciously building the physical, social, and intellectual elements of the class-
room. No longer can professional educators attend to the physical arrangement
and placement of equipment and materials to the exclusion of the socioemo-
tional and intellectual climates created among adults and children.

●● Chapter 6 uses key components of educational philosophy found in
the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, as the foundation for creating a car-
ing community of learners. Respectful and effective communication
and guidance strategies are outlined.

●● Chapter 7 is devoted to appropriate communication strategies to use
when creating reciprocal relationships with family members and col-
leagues. Family situations that may require additional support from the
caregiver, the program, or community agencies are presented.

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●● Chapter 8 covers components of high-quality and developmentally
appropriate indoor and outdoor learning environments from the teach-
ers’, children’s, and society’s perspectives and presents common health
and safety issues for children.

●● Chapter 9 presents practical techniques for designing the intellectual
environment. Curriculum—both routine care times and planned learn-
ing experiences—must be specially designed to enhance the develop-
ment and learning of each child. Emphasis is placed on engaging in
project work with infants and toddlers.

part 3 developing responsive Curriculum
This part explores strategies for designing curriculum that reflects current
levels of development and learning. Two new chapters have been added to
this section, and the other three have been significantly reorganized.

●● Chapter 10, a new chapter, covers early intervention for infants, tod-
dlers, and families. It explores not only how we should approach early
intervention from a strengths perspective but also common characteris-
tics of children with special rights.

●● Chapters 11–13 explore tasks, materials, and specific learning expe-
riences to enhance development for children from birth to thirty-six
months. Now, each of these chapters focuses on working with children
in a one-year age range. This practical section provides specific tech-
niques, teaching strategies, and solutions to many of the common prob-
lems confronted when addressing the rapid growth and development
of infants and toddlers.

●● Chapter 14, which is also new, builds on information provided through –
out the text as it investigates strategies for supporting content area
learning for infants and toddlers. Central concepts for emergent literacy,
mathematics, fine arts, social studies, and science are provided.

Supplements
mindtap™: the personal Learning Experience
MindTap for Swim, Infants and Toddlers: Caregiving and Responsive
Curriculum Development, Ninth Edition, represents a new approach to
teaching and learning. A highly personalized, fully customizable learning
platform with an integrated e-portfolio, MindTap helps students to elevate
thinking by guiding them to do the following:

●● Know, remember, and understand concepts critical to becoming a great
teacher.

●● Apply concepts, create curriculum and tools, and demonstrate perfor-
mance and competency in key areas in the course, including national
and state education standards.

●● Prepare artifacts for the portfolio and eventual state licensure to launch
a successful teaching career.

●● Develop the habits to become a reflective practitioner.

xvPrefACe

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and
assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

Create

Evaluate

Analyze

Apply

Understand

Remember & Know

MindTap Moves
Students Up
Bloom’s Revised
Taxonomy

As students move through each chapter’s Learning Path, they engage
in a scaffolded learning experience, designed to move them up Bloom’s
Taxonomy, from lower- to higher-order thinking skills. The Learning
Path enables preservice students to develop these skills and gain confi-
dence by:

●● Engaging them with chapter topics and activating their prior knowl-
edge by watching and answering questions about authentic videos of
teachers teaching and children learning in real classrooms

●● Checking their comprehension and understanding through Did You
Get It? assessments, with varied question types that are autograded for
instant feedback

●● Applying concepts through mini-case studies—students analyze typ-
ical teaching and learning situations, and then create a reasoned
response to the issue(s) presented in the scenario

●● Reflecting about and justifying the choices they made within the teach-
ing scenario problem

MindTap helps instructors facilitate better
outcomes by evaluating how future teachers

plan and teach lessons in ways that make
content clear and help diverse students

learn, assessing the effectiveness of their
teaching practice, and adjusting teaching

as needed. MindTap enables instruc-
tors to facilitate better outcomes by:

●● Making grades visible in real
time through the Student
Progress App so students
and instructors always have
access to current standings in
the class

●● Using the Outcome Library to embed national education standards and
align them to student learning activities, and also allowing instructors
to add their state’s standards or any other desired outcome

●● Allowing instructors to generate reports on students’ performance with
the click of a mouse against any standards or outcomes that are in their
MindTap course

●● Giving instructors the ability to assess students on state standards or
other local outcomes by editing existing or creating their own MindTap
activities, and then by aligning those activities to any state or other out-
comes that the instructor has added to the MindTap Outcome Library

MindTap for Swim, Infants and Toddlers: Caregiving and Responsive
Curriculum Development, Ninth Edition, helps instructors easily set their
course because it integrates into the existing Learning Management System
and saves instructors time by allowing them to fully customize any aspect
of the Learning Path. Instructors can change the order of the student learn-
ing activities, hide activities they don’t want for the course, and—most

PrefACexvi

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

importantly—create custom assessments and add any standards, outcomes,
or content they do want (e.g., YouTube videos, Google docs). Learn more at
www.cengage.com/mindtap.

online instructor’s manual with test Bank
An online Instructor’s Manual accompanies this book. It contains infor-
mation to assist the instructor in designing the course, including sample
syllabi, discussion questions, teaching and learning activities, field experi-
ences, learning objectives, and additional online resources. For assessment
support, the updated test bank includes true/false, multiple-choice, match-
ing, short-answer, and essay questions for each chapter.

powerpoint Lecture Slides
These vibrant Microsoft PowerPoint lecture slides for each chapter assist
you with your lecture by providing concept coverage using images, figures,
and tables directly from the textbook.

Cognero
Cengage Learning Testing Powered by Cognero is a flexible online system
that allows you to author, edit, and manage test bank content from multiple
Cengage Learning solutions; create multiple test versions in an instant; and
deliver tests from your Learning Management System (LMS), your class-
room, or wherever you want.

About the Author
tErri Jo SWim, ph.d., is a professor and Chair of
the Department of Educational Studies at Indiana
University–Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
She has taught in higher education institutions for
almost 20 years. In addition, she has worked in pri-
vate child care centers, university-based laboratory
programs, and summer camps with children from
birth to 13 years of age. Terri was a co-editor of The
Hope for Audacity: Recapturing Optimism and Civil-

ity in Education. Her current research interests include infant–toddler and
preschool curriculum, Reggio Emilia, documentation, and teacher education.

Questions or discussions on any topics covered in the book can be sent
to her at the e-mail address below.

TERRI JO SWIm

[email protected]

xviiPrefACe

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Acknowledgments
This Ninth Edition of Infants and Toddlers: Caregiving and Responsive Cur-
riculum Development would not have been possible without the influence,
loyalty, and positive influence of the following very exceptional people.

Special thanks goes to my husband, Danny—without you, I would
starve, both physically and emotionally! To the rest of my immediate and
extended family members—each of you have taught me much about the
importance of strong attachments. To all of my students, thanks for the
feedback on earlier versions of the text—it is improved because of you!
Thank you to Gina Wilson for her assistance with updating Appendix C.

To Mark Kerr, product development manager, Kassi Radomski, content
developer, and other staff at Cengage Learning and MPS Limited for con-
tinued support and guidance during product development and production.

To the following reviewers of the eighth edition, whose feedback was
used to help us make decisions about the revisions that were needed in
this edition, we thank you for your candid feedback and support:

Laurel Anderson, Palomar College

Teresa Bridger, Prince George Community College

Margaret Dana-Conway, Norwalk Community College

Evia Davis, Langston University

Jennifer DeFrance, Three Rivers Community College

Marissa Happ, Aurora University

Jeannie Morgan-Campola, Rowan Cabarrus Community College

Bridget Murray, Henderson Community College

Sandra Own, Cincinnati State

Boyoung Park, Radford University

Stacey Pistorova, Terra State Community College

Wendy Ruiz, College of the Canyons

Pamela Sebura, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Jacque Taylor, Greenville Technical College

Linda Taylor, Ball State University

Cheryl Williams-Jackson, Modesto Junior College

Eileen Yantz, Gaston College

PrefACexviii

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Taking a Developmental
Perspective 1

Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

1-1 Determine how the four major
developmental areas for assessment differ
from one another.

1-2 Explain the theories of child development.

1-3 Justify how the use of Bronfenbrenner’s
ecological systems theory explains current
trends in development and education.

1-4 Recognize the impact of each individual
child’s culture on classroom interactions
and curriculum.

Standards Addressed
in This Chapter

NAEYC Standards
for Early Childhood Professional
Preparation

1 Promoting Child Development and Learning

Developmentally Appropriate
Practice Guidelines

1 Creating a Caring Community of Learners

In addition, the NAEYC standards for develop-
mentally appropriate practice are divided into
six areas particularly important to infant/tod-
dler care. The following areas are addressed in
this chapter: Relationship between Caregiver and
Child, and Policies.

C h A P t E r

Pa rt o n e Understanding the Foundations of Professional Education

© 2017 Cengage Learning

1

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Never before in our history do we know so much about the importance of
the infant and toddler years. New brain scan technologies allow us to unob-
trusively peak into the developing brain to understand how very young chil-
dren’s brains are being wired. The results show us amazing rates and patterns
of development in response to the type and amount of caregiving received, the
nutrition provided, and the environmental factors such as exposure to trauma,
violence, or maternal depression. The role of early childhood educators is
more significant than ever. As a result, educators need to learn more theories,
principles, and skills to keep pace with the demands of their profession.

Child care settings are powerful contexts for influencing the devel-
opment and learning of very young children. High standards require that
teachers learn to take good care of both themselves and the children, and
to be aware of the interests, abilities, and desires of the child, family, com-
munity, and society as a whole. Part 1 provides current trends in caring for
infants and toddlers, theories and principles of child development, and a
structure for caregiving that helps prepare the caregiver for the challenging
and rewarding profession of early childhood education.

This edition continues to emphasize science and new discoveries by
researchers (e.g., on brain development and attachment) as well as the
influences these findings have on caregiver behavior when working with
very young children. By closely observing and recording the behaviors of
children, the child care specialist will create a powerful framework to use
in caring for and educating infants and toddlers.

When you finish Part 1 of this book, you’ll have the knowledge and prin-
ciples necessary to care for children effectively and enhance the development
of each child through your direct, intentional interactions. Parts 2 and 3 build
on this base of knowledge to give you all the specific skills, techniques, strat-
egies, and activities needed to function confidently as a professional.

Even though your work is vital within your classroom and educational
program, it can’t stop there. Early childhood educators need to use the
information gained from this text to advocate for collective responsibility
and commitment to all children from birth to age 3. The next generations
deserve nothing less from us.

What do people who work with young children need to know, and what
do they need to be able to do? Early childhood educators* have long debated
these questions. For almost a century, people from all areas of the field and all
corners of the world have worked to answer these two key questions as well.
Current research has helped early childhood specialists clearly define a core
body of knowledge, as well as standards for quality in both teacher prepara-
tion and in programming for young children. Scholarly research has validated
what early childhood professionals have always known intuitively: the quality
of young children’s experience in early care and education settings is directly
related to the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of the adults caring for them.

Today’s theories and philosophies regarding child development
and learning have evolved over time and have been influenced by both

*In this book, the terms early childhood educator, teacher, caregiver, and primary caregiver will
be used interchangeably to describe adults who care for and educate infants and toddlers. Other
terms, such as early childhood specialist, educarer, practitioner, staff, child care teacher, head
teacher, assistant teacher, or family child care provider, might also be familiar. The use of these
four terms is not intended to narrow the focus of professionals discussed in this book or to mini-
mize a particular title, rather the purpose is to provide some consistency in language.

2 Part 1 Understanding the Foundations of Professional Education

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ancient and modern society and thought. They are the direct result of early
childhood professionals and scientists building on previous theories and
research to better understand children today.

How teachers use and apply the developmental theories depends not
only on their understanding of those theories and associated research but also
on their personal beliefs and dispositions. Because we are unable to attend
to every aspect of an interaction, our mind filters and categorizes informa-
tion at astonishing speeds. Our beliefs impact not only how our brain does
this work but also how we make sense of the information after it is available.
Matusov, DePalma, and Drye (2007) suggest that adults’ responses constantly
and actively impact the trajectory of development of children. Thus, teach-
ers participate in “… co-constructing the observed phenomenon of develop-
ment” (p. 410) such that “development defines an observer no less than the
observed” (p. 419). In other words, what we observe and what we think the
observations mean are as much a reflection of us (our beliefs and knowledge
bases) as it is a reflection of the child we observed. This is illustrated in
conversations between two adults after observing the same event. They each
describe the actions, behaviors, and implications of the phenomenon differ-
ently. Thus, recognizing how teachers shape the development of children
must subsequently result in the opening of dialogue and communication.

These points are made so that you’ll take an active role in reflecting
on your own beliefs and how they are changing as you read this book and
interact with infants and toddlers. Developing the “habit of mind” for care-
ful professional and personal analysis will assist you in thinking about
your role as an educator.

1-1 Developmental Areas
The structure of this book allows for the philosophy that the author
believes is most helpful in child care settings. The major contributions of
early childhood theorists are presented within this structure. This phi-
losophy, which follows a Developmental Perspective, states that teachers
and other adults must be consciously aware of how a child is progressing
in each area to create environments that facilitate her ideal development.
Unlike the tabula rasa theory of the past, which claimed that children are
molded to parental or societal specifications, current research indicates
that each child’s genetic code engages in a complex interaction with envi-
ronmental factors to result in the realization (or not) of her full potential.

A child born with a physical disability such as spina bifida may not
realize as much potential in certain areas as a child born neurologically
intact, and a child whose ancestry dictates adult height less than five feet
will most likely not realize the potential to play professional basketball.
However, within these limiting genetic and environmental factors, every
child has the potential for a fulfilling and productive life, depending on
how well his or her abilities are satisfied and challenged, and to what
extent the skills necessary to become a happy and successful adult are
fostered by family members and caregivers.

As you can see, from the moment of birth, the child and the people
around the child affect each other. This dynamic interaction is sometimes
deliberate and controlled and sometimes unconscious behavior. Caregivers
working with infants and toddlers plan many experiences for children.

3chaPtEr 1 taking a Developmental Perspective

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Simultaneous with these planned experiences are the thousands of actions
that are spontaneous, that stimulate new actions and reactions, and that
challenge both the child and the caregiver. Teachers must learn to be mind-
ful in all of their interactions.

Magda Gerber (Gerber & Weaver, 1998) has established an approach
and structure for child care that emphasizes mindful interaction between
child and caregiver. This approach is illustrated through her “10 principles
of caregiving.”

1. Involve children in activities and things that concern them.

2. Invest in quality time with each child.

3. Learn the unique ways each child communicates with you and teach
him or her the ways you communicate.

4. Invest the time and energy necessary with each child to build a total person.

5. Respect infants and toddlers as worthy people.

6. Model specific behaviors before you teach them.

7. Always be honest with children about your feelings.

8. View problems as learning opportunities and allow children to solve
their own problems where possible.

9. Build security with children by teaching trust.

10. Be concerned about the quality of development each child has at
each stage.

Interactions that reflect these principles focus on the development of
the whole child; that is, attention to cognitive development is not at the
expense of social or physical development. When teachers who are new to
the profession are required to think about all of the areas of development
at once, they can become overwhelmed. Child development knowledge, in
this situation, can be divided into distinct, yet interrelated, areas for easy
understanding. It is important to note that no area of development functions
in isolation from another. This division is arbitrary and is done for the ease
of the learner, you. For children, the areas of development come together
and operate as a whole, producing an entirely unique individual. Table 1–1
lists the four developmental domains that will be used in this book. Coming
to understand the four individual areas well is necessary for you to promote
optimal development for each child in your care.

A major goal of this book is to help caregivers understand normal
sequences and patterns of development and to become familiar with learning

TABLE 1–1 ◗ Developmental Domains

ArEA I Physical: height, weight, general motor coordination, brain development,
and so on

ArEA II Emotional: feelings, self-perception, confidence, security, and so on

ArEA III Social: interactions with peers, elders, and youngsters, both one-on-one
and in a group, social perspective-taking, and so on

ArEA IV Cognitive/Language: reasoning, problem solving, concept formation,
verbal communication, and so on

©
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4 Part 1 Understanding the Foundations of Professional Education

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

tools that enhance development in the four major developmental areas. After
you understand the normative patterns or milestones, you can more easily
recognize and honor the unique patterns that each child demonstrates.
Throughout this book, you’ll learn to evaluate the development of an individ-
ual child by comparing milestone behaviors with the larger group that was
used to establish normative behavior for that age. Therefore, necessary aspects
of preparing to be an infant/toddler teacher are learning to observe children
carefully, record those observations, and analyze that data. After individual
parts are understood, early childhood educators can apply the knowledge to
care for the whole, constantly changing child in a competent manner.

1-2 Theories of Child Development
Before the Reformation in sixteenth-century Europe, little importance was
placed on children; they were considered little adults. With the Reformation
and the Puritan belief in original sin came harsh, restrictive child-rearing
practices and the belief that it was the “duty of the responsible adult to con-
trol the child’s willfulness and stifle acting-out urges with stern, powerful,
and consistent discipline” (Lally, 2006, p. 10).

The seventeenth-century Enlightenment brought new theories of
human dignity and respect. Young children were viewed much more
humanely. For example, John Locke, a British philosopher, advanced the
theory that a child is a tabula rasa, or blank slate. According to his theory,
children were not basically evil but were completely molded and formed
by their early experiences with the adults around them (Locke, 1690/1892).

An important philosopher of the eighteenth century, Jean-Jacques
Rousseau, viewed young children as noble savages who are naturally born
with a sense of right and wrong and an innate ability for orderly, healthy
growth (1762/1955). His theory, the first child-centered approach, advanced
an important concept still accepted today: the idea of stages of child
development.

During the late 1800s, Charles Darwin’s theories of natural selection
and survival of the fittest strongly influenced ideas on child development
and care (1859/1936). Darwin’s research on many animal species led him
to hypothesize that all animals were descendants of a few common ances-
tors. Darwin’s careful observations of child behaviors resulted in the birth
of the science of child study.

At the turn of the twentieth century, G. Stanley Hall was inspired by
Darwin. Hall worked with one of Darwin’s students, Arnold Gesell, to
advance the maturational perspective that child development is geneti-
cally determined and unfolds automatically—leading to universal charac-
teristics or events during particular time periods (Gesell, 1928). Thus,
Hall and Gesell are considered founders of the child study movement
because of their normative approach of observing large numbers of chil-
dren to establish average or normal expectations (Berk, 2012). At the same
time, in France, Alfred Binet was establishing the first operational defini-
tion of intelligence by using the normative approach to standardize his
intelligence test.

Erik Erikson created the psychosocial theory of child development.
Erikson’s (1950) theory, which is still used in child care today, predicted

milestones Specific behaviors
common to an entire
population that are used to
track development and are
observed when they are first or
consistently manifested.

stages Normal patterns of
development that most people
go through in maturation, first
described by Jean-Jacques
rousseau.

normative approach
Observing large numbers of
children to establish average or
normal expectations of when
a particular skill or ability is
present.

psychosocial theory Erikson’s
stage theory of development,
including trust, autonomy,
identity, and intimacy.

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several stages of development, including the development of trust,
autonomy, identity, and intimacy. How these stages are dealt with by
family members and teachers determines an individual’s capacity to con-
tribute to society and experience a happy, successful life.

While Erikson greatly influenced the fields of child development and
care, a parallel approach was being studied, called behaviorism. John Wat-
son, the father of behaviorism, in a historic experiment, taught an
11-month-old named Albert to fear a neutral stimulus (a soft white rat) by
presenting the rat several times accompanied by loud noises. Watson and
his followers used experiments in classical conditioning to promote the
idea that the environment is the primary factor determining the growth
and development of children. Skinner and Belmont (1993) expanded
Watson’s theories of classical conditioning to demonstrate that child
behaviors can be increased or decreased by applying positive reinforcers
(rewards), such as praise, and negative reinforcers (punishment), such as
criticism and withdrawal of attention.

During the 1950s, social learning theories became popular. Proponents
of these theories, led by Albert Bandura, accepted the principles of be hav-
iorism and enlarged on conditioning to include social influences such as
modeling, imitation, and observational learning to explain how children
develop (Grusec, 1992).

Jean Piaget is one theorist who has influenced the modern fields of
child development and care more than any other. Cognitive developmental
theory predicts that children construct knowledge and awareness through
manipulation and exploration of the environment, and that cognitive
development occurs through observable stages (Beilin, 1992). Piaget’s stages
of cognitive development have stimulated a significant body of research on
children, and his influences have helped teachers view young children as
active participants in their own growth and development. Piaget’s contri-
butions have many practical applications for teachers.

Attachment theory was developed on the premise that infants need a
strong emotional attachment to their primary caregiver. This theory exam-
ines how early care, especially relationships between adults and children,
impacts later development. Bowlby (1969/2000), after observing children
between the ages of one and four years in post–World War II hospitals and
institutions who had been separated from their families, concluded that
“the infant and young child should experience a warm and continuous
relationship with his mother (or permanent mother substitute) in which
both find satisfaction and enjoyment” to grow up mentally healthy (p. 13).
Relying heavily on ethological concepts, he proposed that a baby’s attach-
ment behaviors (e.g., smiling, crying, clinging) are innate and that they
mature at various times during the first two years of life (Bowlby, 1958).
The ethological purpose of these behaviors is to keep the infant close to
the mother, who keeps the child out of harm’s way (Honig, 2002). How-
ever, the quality of attachment is not just determined by the infant’s behav-
ior. The caregiver’s responses to the attachment behaviors serve to create a
foundation for their relationship to develop (see Oppenheim & Koren-
Karie, 2002). Attachment history has been associated with emotional,
social, and learning outcomes later in life (see Copple, 2012) and has been
very influential on classroom practices.

behaviorism School of
psychology that studies stimuli,
responses, and rewards that
influence behavior.

social learning theories a
body of theory that adds social
influences to behaviorism to
explain development.

cognitive developmental
theory Piaget’s theory that
children construct knowledge
and awareness through
manipulation and exploration
of their environment.

attachment theory a theory
that infants are born needing an
emotional attachment to their
primary caregiver.

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Over the past one to two decades, technologies, such as innovations in
noninvasive neuroscience imaging techniques, have begun to significantly
impact our understanding of brain development. It was once believed that
nature, or the basic genetic makeup of a child, played a dominant role in
determining both short- and long-term cognitive developmental outcomes.
Newer technologies allow for close examination of nurture, or environmental
impacts, on the same outcomes. Scientists have found that harmful, stress-
ful, or neglectful behaviors early in life can affect the development of the
brain, potentially leading to lifelong difficulties (Carlson, Hostinar, Mliner, &
Gunnar, 2014; Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2011;
Nelson, Bos, Gunnar, & Sonuga-Barke, 2011). The quality and consistency of
early care will affect how a child develops, learns, copes with, and handles
life. The more quality interactions you have with the children in your care,
the more opportunities you create for positive development.

Another theory of child development is the ecological systems theory
developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner, an American psychologist. Bronfen-
brenner (1995) expanded the view of influences on young children by
hypothesizing four nested structures that affect development (see Figure 1–1).

ecological systems theory
Bronfenbrenner’s theory of
nested environmental systems
that influence the development
and behavior of people.

FIGURE 1–1 ◗ Model of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory

Macrosystem

N
at

io
na

l c
us

to
m

s

C
o

m
m

u
n

it
y

Politica
l philosophy

Econom
ic pattern

s

Cu
ltu

ra
l v

al
ue

s

Social conditions

Exosystem

Family Classroom

Religious
setting

Peer
groupM

as
s

m
ed

ia

Microsystems

School system

Mesosystem

Mesosystem

Chronosystem

M
es

o
sy

st
em

M
eso

sy
stem

M
ed

ical in
stitu

tio
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s

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At the innermost level is the microsystem, which comprises patterns of
interactions within the immediate surroundings of the child. This sys-
tem includes families, early childhood educators, direct influences on
the child, and the child’s influence on the immediate environment. The
mesosystem is the next level of influence and includes interactions
among the various microsystems. For example, family and teacher
interactions in the child care setting represent connections between

microsystem Bronfenbrenner’s
term for the innermost level
of influence found in the
immediate surroundings of
the child, such as parents or an
early childhood educator.

ESSENtial liFE SkillS FOr iNFaNtS

Ellen Galinsky outlines in her book, Mind in the Mak-
ing: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
(2010), what parents, educators, and community mem-
bers must know to help children grow and develop
optimally. She expertly weaves together research on
brain development, social development, emotional
development, and environmental influences on those
processes to draw her conclusions. As the title indi-
cates, there are seven essential life skills that must be
developed for young children:

●● Focus and controlling oneself
●● Perspective taking
●● Communicating
●● Making connections
●● Critical thinking
●● Taking on challenges
●● Self-directed, engaged learning

One overarching theme of this book is recognizing
and building on the competencies of very young chil-
dren. Research continues to illuminate how children
have remarkable skills long before they can articulate
what they are thinking. For example, infants and tod-
dlers are capable of demonstrating brain functions that
manage attention, emotions, and behaviors in pursuit
of goals (i.e., executive functions) (p. 39); 18-month-old
children can take the perspective of an adult (p. 81);
infants can read adults’ emotional cues to differentiate
a range of emotions (p. 113); 6-month-old babies have
number sense and can distinguish an array of 8 ver-
sus 16 dots (p. 169); and 6- and 10-month-old infants
demonstrate people sense when they indicate a pref-
erence for the character in a play that helped another
(rather than the character who hindered another;
pp. 212–213).

A significant contribution of this book is Galinsky’s
description of the seven essential life skills as being
“social-emotional-intellectual (SEI) skills” (p. 71). In
other words, current research has elucidated how these

essential life skills reflect the multifaceted interplay
between those three areas of development. Parents,
teachers, and community members can no longer con-
tinue to treat these complex skills in simplistic and
isolated ways; we must recognize how each area of
development works with other areas to result in com-
plex understanding and behaviors.

This book not only blends data generated from rig-
orous research with interviews of those researchers
but also provides practical suggestions that parents
and teachers can use to promote brain development
via these seven essential skills. For example, Chapter 1
provides 19 suggestions to promote the development
of focus and self-control such as encouraging pretend
play because it promotes the development of the work-
ing memory and playing sorting games with changing
rules because they support cognitive flexibility. Criti-
cal thinking (Chapter 5) can be supported by promoting
curiosity, learning from “experts,” evaluating informa-
tion from others, and being a critical viewer of televi-
sion and other media.

The last essential skill (self-directed, engaged learn-
ing) is of particular importance for teachers of infants
and toddlers. Galinsky makes the case that research
supports seven principles that help “children unleash
their passionate desire to learn” (p. 300). Following are
some of those principles:

●● Establish a trustworthy relationship with each child.
●● Help children set and work toward their own goals.
●● Involve children socially, emotionally, and intellec-

tually in learning.
●● Elaborate and extend their learning.
●● Help children become increasingly accountable for

their own learning.
When teachers act intentionally to support chil-

dren’s learning about their passions (e.g., cars for one
child, cats for another), they open up new worlds of
understanding in areas such as mathematics, history,
literacy, and science that will serve them for a lifetime.

Spotlight on Research

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home and school that impact the child’s development. The exosystem
includes influences with which the child is not directly involved that
affect development and care, such as parent education, parent work-
place, and the quality and availability of health and social services. The
macrosystem consists of the values, laws, resources, and customs of the
general culture in which a child is raised. This theory has wide
applications in understanding and categorizing the factors that affect
child care.

The final developmental theory to be discussed here is sociocultural
theory. A Russian psychologist, Lev Semenovich Vygotsky, hypothesized
that culture, meaning the values, beliefs, and customs of a social group,
is passed on to the next generation through social interactions between
children and their elders (1934/1986). Those social interactions must be at
the appropriate level for learning to occur. Adults must observe and assess
each child’s individual levels of performance as well as her assisted lev-
els of performance on a given task to judge what supports (also known as
scaffolding) are necessary for promoting learning (Berk & Winsler, 1995;
Bodrova & Leong, 2007), social or emotional development (Morcom, 2014),
and play (Leong & Bodrova, 2012). Cross-cultural research has supported
this theory through findings that young children from various cultures
develop unique skills and abilities that are not present in other cultures
(Berk, 2012).

1-2a Unique Patterns of Development
These theories differ in their view of various controversies in development
(McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013). For the purposes of this chapter, the focus will
be placed on the controversy of universal versus unique patterns of devel-
opment. Theories on the universal end of the continuum (see Figure 1–2)
state that development stages or accomplishments are common to all chil-
dren. As you can tell from the preceding descriptions, some theorists such
as Piaget and Gesell describe development as occurring in set patterns for
all children. In other words, there are universal trends in cognitive rea-
soning and physical development. From these perspectives, if you know a
child’s age, you can predict with some degree of confidence how that child
might think or act.

On the other end of the controversy, theories espousing a unique view
of development suggest that patterns of development cannot be deter-
mined or predicted because environmental factors impact each child dif-
ferently. Ecological systems and sociocultural theories are both examples
on this end of the continuum. These theorists did not believe that teach-
ers could predict a child’s behaviors or abilities by knowing a child’s age

FIGURE 1–2 ◗ Continuum for the Controversy of Universal versus
Unique Development

Interaction of
both aspects

Universal Unique

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mesosystem Bronfenbrenner’s
term for the second level of
influence for the child that
involves interactions among
microsystems, such as a teacher
in a child care center and family
members.

exosystem Bronfenbrenner’s
term for the influences that
are not a direct part of a child’s
experience but influence
development, such as parent
education.

macrosystem Bronfenbrenner’s
term for influences on develop-
ment from the general culture,
including laws and customs.

sociocultural theory
Vygotsky’s theory on
development that predicts how
cultural values, beliefs, and
concepts are passed from one
generation to the next.

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or where stage of development. Each
child is unique in his or her progression
of skills, knowledge, and behaviors
(Photo 1–1).

S o m e t h e o r i e s o f d e v e l o p m e n t
are at neither end of the continuum.
Rather, they fall somewhere in the
middle, suggesting that development
is representative of both controver-
sies. Attachment theory, for example,
is based on the belief that all children
experience similar phases; yet, the
relationship each child has with her
caregivers greatly impacts the type of
attachment displayed.

It must be kept in mind that the
United States is a world leader in the
fields of child development and care,
but we cannot assume that research
findings on developmental skills and
abilities from one group of children

(e.g., Caucasian American) directly apply to other cultures or subcultures
(Diaz Soto & Swadener, 2002; Fleer & Hedegaard, 2010; Lee & Johnson,
2007; Matusov et al., 2007). Only through taking a developmental per-
spective and paying close attention to universal and unique patterns of
development as well as cultural influences will we be able to determine
the practices to optimally enhance the growth and development of individ-
ual infants and toddlers.

PhOTO 1–1 Toddlers share many characteristics, yet they are
all developmentally unique.

1-3 Current Trends in Development
and Education
Current child care trends considered in this section reflect the research
being completed concerning brain development, attachment theory, and
sociocultural theory. All of these trends are discussed within the frame-
work of the ecological systems theory: microsystem, mesosystem, exosys-
tem, and macrosystem. In this theory, human relationships are described
as bidirectional and reciprocal. Relating is the act of being with someone

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. Justify why an infant-toddler teacher should employ a developmental
perspective in his work.

2. Explain what the four developmental domains are and why it is useful, yet
artificial, to divide development in this manner.

3. Select two developmental theories. Compare and contrast them; in other
words, explain how they are alike and how they are different.

r E A D I N G
C h E C K P O I N t

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and sharing the same space and setting, expressing needs and accepting
responsibility for interacting with each other. Interactions are respectful to
all parties involved.

The recommendation to respect children is also expressed by the edu-
cational leaders of the infant and toddler centers of Reggio Emilia, Italy.
These professionals believe that all children have rights, which include,
among other things, the right to be held in high regard and treated respect-
fully. This book emphasizes that the teacher be mindful of positive inten-
tions toward the child and engage in reflective, careful planning, resulting
in good outcomes for both.

1-3a Microsystem trends
Trends in the microsystem involve effects that adults and children have
on each other. For example, an adult who consciously uses attention,
approval, and attunement with children elicits a positive response from
them. Any third party who is present may also be affected. How this per-
son is affected is determined by whether or not the reciprocal relationship
is positive or negative. If the people interacting are supportive, the quality
of the relationship is enhanced.

The microsystem is the closest system to the child. It contains the
child, the immediate nuclear family, and others directly related to the
child. Development of the child is directly impacted by the contexts in
which the child is being raised and the child directly impacts those same
contexts. In other words, bidirectional influences are at play. Gabbard
and Krebs (2012) theorized about the importance of considering physical
development from Bronfenbrenner’s perspective. They suggest that family
members can constrain development (e.g., placing an infant in a crib for
long periods of time), or they can support and enhance development (e.g.,
providing toys, materials, and space that encourage a variety of motoric
activities). Yet, a child that craves movement can resist being placed in a
crib for too long, resulting in an adult changing her location and providing
new physical experiences.

Until the recent recession, the trend over the past 20 years has been
for more and more children to have parents who work outside the home
and to live in single-parent households. One direct consequence of these
changes is that more children receive nonfamilial care in the United States
than ever before. Child care settings, then, have become an important
aspect of the microsystem. Approximately 60 percent of the infants,
toddlers, and preschool children aged 5 or younger (not enrolled in
kindergarten) in the United States are in at least one weekly nonparental
child care arrangement (Mamedova & Redford, 2013). The most prevalent
type of care children experience is center-based care, followed by
relative care, and then nonrelative care. These children have widespread
cultural differences in customs, family structure, and parenting styles.
For example, children experience living with one parent, two parents, or
grandparents. In addition, more and more children grow up experiencing
poverty (see Table 1–2). Respectful, mindful teachers are necessary in
all child care settings to promote interest, acceptance, and pride among
children and families.

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Table 1–2 ◗ Facts and Figures on Families in the United States with Infants
and Toddlers

All Infants and Toddlers

More than 11 million infants and toddlers live in the United States. Every 1.5 minutes, a baby
is born to a teen mother.a

Every 1.5 minutes, a baby is born at low birth weight. Black babies are about twice as likely as
White or Hispanic babies to be born at low birth weight.

Every 22 minutes, a baby dies before his or her first birthday. When compared to other
industrialized countries, the United States ranks 31st in infant mortality rates and 25th in
low-birthweight rates. When comparing the Black child well-being in the United States to
other nations, 72 nations have lower infant mortality rates.

Approximately 20 percent of 2-year-olds are not fully immunized. In 2013, 17 states had MMR
(Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) coverage below 90.0 percent, and these states are at higher
risk for measles outbreaks.

Among all infants and toddlers, 13 percent of infants and toddlers living in low-income or
poor families in the United States do not have health insurance.

A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds; infants are the most likely to suffer from
maltreatment.

In 2011 (latest year data reported), the average cost of center-based care for infants was greater
than the annual tuition and fees at an in-state college in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

Infants and Toddlers in Poverty

Every 32 seconds, a baby is born into poverty.a Of the infants and toddlers in the United
States, 48 percent are in families living below or near the federal poverty line. Children under
the age of 3 are more likely to live in poverty than older children. Poverty, however, is related
to race and ethnicity, with African American, American Indian, and Hispanic infants and
toddlers being more than twice as likely to live in poverty as young White children. In addition,
56 percent of infants and toddlers with immigrant parents live in low-income families.

Eighty-eight percent of infants and toddlers with parents who have less than a high school
degree live in low-income families.

Most poor infants and toddlers live in families where at least one adult works. Seventy-six
percent of low-income families have at least one parent who works part-time or part-year
year-round. Thirty-two percent of low-income families have at least one parent who works
full-time, year-round.

Of infants and toddlers living with a single mother, 74 percent are in low-income families.

Nationally, in 2013, 150,000 infants, toddlers, and pregnant women participated in Early
Head Start programs. This represented only 4 percent of infants, toddlers, and pregnant
women who were eligible to be served.

In 2010, nearly 9 million infants, children, and women participated in the WIC program.

aBased on calculations per school day (180 days of seven hours each).
Sources: National Center for Children in Poverty. (2014). Basic facts about low-income children: Children under
3 years, 2012, and Investing in young children: A factsheet on early care and education participation, access, and
quality. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from http://www.nccp.org/; Children’s Defense Fund. (2014). The state of
America’s children. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from http://childrensdefense.org; Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. (2014). Childhood immunization coverage infographic: Infant vaccination rates high, unvaccinated
still vulnerable. Retrieved September 26, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/coverage/nis/child/
index.html

In the past, it was thought that the immediate family had the greatest
single impact on a child’s life. However, with the increased need for parents
of very young children to engage in the workforce, the need for child care is
so great that this is no longer true. Attachment research (to be reviewed in
the next section) explains that infants can form positive, secure relationships

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with both family members and early childhood educators. Child develop-
ment experts now understand that close relationships between a toddler and
a teacher are not a substitute for parent-child relationships; rather, they can
support and enhance each other (Photo 1–2). Now such experts encourage
important practices such as family grouping, continuity of care, primary
caregiving, and creating partnerships with families to minimize the effects
on children of long hours away from family members.

Family Grouping
When a small number of children of different ages (e.g., infants and tod-
dlers) are cared for in the same room, it is called family grouping. Such
arrangements reproduce relationships that children naturally have in a
home setting. For example, families often have siblings who are two or
fewer years apart in age. Organizing the program so that the six children
who share the room vary in age from a very young infant (e.g., 6 weeks) to
3 years of age provides opportunities for interactions that are similar to
those that may be found more naturally.

Continuity of Care
Attachment theory suggests that infants, toddlers, and adults need time to
create positive emotional bonds with one another. Having the same teach-
ers work with the same children for a three-year period is one way to pro-
mote strong attachments (Bernhardt, 2000; Honig, 2002). This type of
arrangement is often referred to as continuity of care and should be viewed
as a primary component of high-quality programming for very young chil-
dren. As this term suggests, the emphasis is placed on maintaining

family grouping Method
for grouping children where
children are of different ages.

continuity of care having the
same teachers work with the
same group of children and
families for more than one year,
ideally for three years.

PhOTO 1–2 Close relationships between toddlers and teachers support and
enhance parent-child relationships.

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relationships for long periods of time. With older children, this is often
referred to as looping. Continuity of care can appear in several different
forms in practice. For example, a teacher and her group of children could
remain in one classroom for the infant and toddler years, changing furni-
ture, instructional tools, and supplies as needed to respond to the develop-
ing capabilities of the children. In contrast, a teacher and her group of
children could move each year into a new classroom, which already is
equipped with age-appropriate furniture, supplies, and materials. In either
case, emphasis is placed on building strong, stable, and secure attachments
between the caregiver and child throughout the first three years of life.
Unfortunately, when infants and toddlers experience too many changes in
caregivers, they can become reluctant to form new relationships, and their
optimal social and emotional development is impeded.

National statistics suggest that many infants and toddlers do not expe-
rience continuity of care. According to Mamedova and Redford (2013), the
mean length of time that children had been in their primary care arrange-
ment was longer for children in a relative care arrangement (18 months)
compared to nonrelative care (15 months) or center-based care arrangement
(13 months). In other words, children in center-based care had experienced
more changes in who cared for them during their first years of life. Some
reasons for a lack of continuity in child care centers are explored next.

Implementing continuity of care might seem simple, yet it requires a
great deal of organizing and changing policies on the part of a program.
For example, practices for hiring often have to change (e.g., hiring teachers
of “children from birth to age 3,” rather than an infant teacher), and com-
munication with families has to include a rationale for this approach. The
program also has to respond to changes in external policies that impact the
program. In the state of Indiana, to illustrate, child care licensing regula-
tions require that all programs make a “reasonable effort” toward imple-
menting continuity of care for children up to 30 months of age. Recent
research discovered that while many programs say that they are doing
continuity of care, the majority of them did not keep infants or toddlers
with their teacher when they moved to the next class (Ruprecht, 2011). The
imprecision of the licensing regulations may be influencing how programs
define and implement this concept.

Looking more broadly at policy issues can also demonstrate how regu-
lations can impact the continuity of care a child receives. When the state of
Oregon decided to develop more generous child care subsidy policies for
how to use federally funded Child Care and Development Funds, the goal
was to increase parent’s child care options by allowing them access to care
they believed was best for their child. The impact on the policy was found
to be twofold (Weber, Grobe, & Davis, 2014). First, more families selected
center-based care for their toddlers. Second, the children had more stable
participation in the program selected by their family. Thus, while the state
policies were not about continuity of care within any specific classroom,
the increase in consistent funding led to more consistent participation in
the child care programs. While changes in state licensing regulations and
subsidy policies are often welcomed by many professionals, more work
needs to be done to assist program directors and teachers in executing con-
tinuity of care in practice and to research the impact of such changes on
child outcomes.

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Primary Caregiving
Another way to help adults bond with infants is to divide the work using a
primary caregiving system (Kovach & De Ros, 1998). In this method, one
teacher in the room is primarily responsible for half of the children, and the
other teacher is primarily responsible for the rest. While a teacher would
never ignore the expressed needs of any infant or toddler, she is able to invest
time and energy into coming to understand a smaller group of children and
their families. Frequently, the primary caregiver is the person responsible for
providing assistance during routine care times such as diapering, feeding, or
napping. According to teachers, the primary caregiving system is valuable
because it helps them maintain a balance between their routine work and
their availability to be responsive to the children (Ebbeck & Yim, 2009).
While this research suggests that teachers value the primary caregiving sys-
tem, recent research from Indiana suggests they are still working to align
behaviors that would support such a system. State licensing regulations
require that each infant and toddler classroom use a primary caregiving sys-
tem and that the assignments are posted for families. When asked what other
behaviors the teachers engage in to support these relationships, teachers
reported that they document daily activities, provide information on the
child’s development, and sit with the care group during meals (Ruprecht,
2011). They were less likely to report that they were responsible for changing
diapers, soothing the child to sleep, interacting with the child, and talking to
parents on a daily basis. It appears that teachers need support in defining and
carrying out behaviors that would promote their role as a primary caregiver.

An important aspect of implementing a primary caregiving system is
strong communication and collaboration between the adults in the class-
room. When adults know children well, they can communicate with each
other quickly about next steps or how to divide tasks. For example, if three
children are still eating snacks, and four children are ready to go outside,
the adults can determine who should stay inside to finish the snack and
clean the tables for the next learning experience and who should go out-
side and support outdoor learning. In addition, the adults can be flexible
in helping each other meet the children’s needs. For example, when the
primary caregiver is unavailable, the other adult can “fill in” and express
his willingness to assist the child instead. Thus, the adults have modeled
a sense of working together, communication, and everyone pitching in to
finish all that needs to be accomplished.

1-3b Mesosystem trends
The mesosystem reflects the relationships between the various components
of the microsystem. In other words, at the mesosystem level, we have to con-
sider bidirectional influences between family, peers, school, and so on. Of
particular importance for early childhood educators is the relationship that
teachers have with families. The transition between home and school should
be smooth and continuous. The only pathway for achieving this is through
partnering with families. Families are experts on their children; recognizing
and using this can improve your effectiveness as a caregiver. On the other
hand, you are an expert on this time period—infancy and toddlerhood—
given your experiences with numerous children of this age and your inten-
tional study of child development. Help each family member bring her or his

primary caregiving system
Method of organizing work in
which one teacher is primarily
responsible for half of the
children, and the other teacher
is primarily responsible for
the rest.

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strengths to the relationship. Valuing each family’s child-rearing practices
while helping them to understand child development is not only respectful
but also part of your ethical responsibility (NAEYC, 2005a).

Positive relationships within the mesosystem level have been shown
to result in encouraging outcomes for children, families, teachers, and pro-
grams (Photo 1–3). Used in combination, the effects of each setting can be
particularly strong. The reason for highlighting the relationships between
the systems is to help you understand that the purpose of child care is not
to replace familial influences on very young children but to enhance them.

1-3c Exosystem trends
The exosystem refers to social settings that do not contain the child but still
directly affect the child’s development, such as parent workplace, community

health services, and other public agen-
cies. To illustrate, the impact of being
a child in a military family depends on
where the child is at developmentally
because the timing of separations and
reunifications in military families matters
(Masten, 2013). Growing evidence sug-
gests that stress in a pregnant mother can
alter development in the fetus with last-
ing effects on health or brain development
(Shonkoff et al., 2012). Very young chil-
dren are sensitive to the effects of separa-
tions during the period when attachment
bonds are forming. In addition, when tod-
dlers lack the ability to understand infor-
mation related to the deployment, it can
result in a sense of abandonment, confu-
sion, and emotional turmoil or anxiety.
Thus, “different developmental stages
bring different vulnerabilities and capaci-
ties that may affect how a child responds
to deployment experiences” (Paley,
Lester, & Mogil, 2013, p. 254).

PhOTO 1–3 Infants, toddlers, and adults need time to create
positive emotional bonds with one another.

Think back to your experiences as a young child. Go as
far back in your memory as possible. Feel free to ask a
family member for assistance if necessary or desired.
What were your experiences like? Where, for example,
did you live, and with whom did you live? What did that
person or those persons do to earn money? What type of
community agencies did you participate in most often
(e.g., public library, food banks, social service agencies)?

How do you think your experiences as a young child
have shaped the person you are today? How do those
experiences impact, both positively and negatively,
your understanding of and interactions with very
young children and their families? In addition, how
might it impact your knowledge of the resources avail-
able in your community?

Family and Community Connection

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The exosystem structure also manifests itself in the work of profes-
sional organizations that lobby and advocate for quality child care services.
Many local, regional, and national organizations stress child care advocacy
that sets higher standards of care, along with education that touches each
child in the community. NAEYC, for example, has created standards defin-
ing high-quality early educational programs. The accreditation process,
revised in 2014, is a way for programs to demonstrate they are providing
exceptional care and educational experiences for young children. Hence,
this organization, while a part of the exosystem, can directly impact the
work of teachers in early education programs. Moreover, NAEYC works
with other agencies to advocate for best practices. To illustrate, in April
2014, NAEYC endorsed the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
Position Statement on Early Childhood Science Education to support
appropriate science experiences from age 3 through preschool, and the
NAEYC has an ongoing relationship with the Council for the Accreditation
of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to recognize teacher-preparation programs
that have achieved high standards for preparing future professionals.

Being an advocate yourself might seem like an overwhelming task.
However, each time you interact with family members, colleagues, and
community members, you are a teacher-leader. Your dedication to apply-
ing and sharing professional knowledge and practices makes you an advo-
cate for young children, families, and the early childhood profession.

1-3d Macrosystem trends
Next we turn to trends within the macrosystem, the most general level of
Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. The child is ultimately affected
by decisions made at this level because the macrosystem consists of the
laws, customs, and general policies of the social system (government). This
is where the availability of resources (money in particular) is determined.
The macrosystem structure of the United States has gone through remark-
able changes over the past 10 to 20 years.

WEStED’S PrOgraM FOr iNFaNt/
tODDlEr carE

WestEd is a nonprofit agency whose mission is to
work with education and other communities to pro-
mote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning
for children, youth, and adults. As one way to achieve
this mission, WestEd has created a training series for
infant and toddler teachers called Program for Infant/
Toddler Care (PITC). This program provides ongoing
training and professional development opportuni-
ties which ensure that America’s infants get a safe,
healthy, emotionally secure, and intellectually rich

start in life. The PITC is based on current research that
espouses the importance of responsive, respectful,
and relationship-based care for infants and toddlers.
Currently, this agency is conducting a research study
to evaluate the implementation of PITC teachers’ care-
giving strategies. In other words, they are seeking to
understand whether their intensive training has a
positive impact on the way their graduates build rela-
tionships with and create meaningful environments
for very young children. For more information on
this agency, go to the Program for Infant/Toddler Care
website.

Spotlight on Organizations

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Early Head Start (EHS), which started in 1994, is a federally funded
program for low-income pregnant women and families with infants and
toddlers. This program evolved from the Head Start program and the clear
need to provide early intervention for children and families. In 2003, the
federal budget for EHS was $653.7 million for more than 700 programs
serving more than 62,000 children under the age of 3 (Mann, Bogle, &
Parlakian, 2004). By 2010, the number of programs expanded to more than
1,000 serving more than 133,000 children under the age of 3 in 50 states,
the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands (Early
Head Start Program Facts, 2011). However, the funding increase was tem-
porary (i.e., two years) as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvest-
ment Act (ARRA), which appropriated $1.1 billion for EHS Programs in FY
2009. However, another law was passed in 2011 expanding partial funding
for one more year (Early Head Start Programs Facts, 2011). Although those
figures may sound impressive, EHS services continue to reach only 4 per-
cent of the infants, toddlers, and pregnant women who are eligible for its
services (Schmit, Matthews, Smith, & Robbins, 2013). Significantly more
federal funding is warranted to address this community need.

Even though far too few children are served by this important program,
the children who are enrolled have documented positive outcomes in all
areas of development. For example, they have higher immunization rates,
larger vocabularies, and better social-emotional development as indicated
by lower rates of aggression with peers and were more attuned with objects
when playing (National Head Start Association [NHSA], 2014). They had
higher early reading and math scores than peers who were not enrolled in
EHS (Lee, Zhai, Brooks-Gunn, Han, & Waldfogel, 2014). African American
children who were in EHS programs had better cognitive outcomes (e.g.,
increased receptive vocabulary and sustained attention) and social out-
comes (e.g., increased engagement with parents during play, and reduction
in aggressive behaviors; Harden, Sandstrom, & Chazan-Cohen, 2012).

In addition, EHS has been found to have positive effects on parents
such as decreased rates of depression, increased participation in educa-
tional or job training, and higher rates of employment (NHSA, 2014). They
have been found to score higher on measures of parenting supportiveness
(Harden et al., 2012), especially for mothers with less initial attachment
avoidance or attachment anxiety (Berlin, Whiteside-Mansell, Roggman,
Green, Robinson, & Spieker, 2011). NHSA (2014) research found that EHS
parents were more likely to read to their child on a daily basis.

These positive outcomes fuel current concerns about the quality of non-
familial care during the first three years of life for all of the other children in
our communities. How can underfunded child care programs provide qual-
ity care and education, adequately compensate teachers and directors, and
be responsive to family’s changing needs? Professionals have been working
diligently to improve the minimal educational requirements for child care
teachers by demanding that their state and/or local governments raise train-
ing and care standards. NAEYC, for example, has raised standards for teacher
qualifications while maintaining their high standards for teacher-child
ratios (NAEYC, 2014). Taken together, these requirements demonstrate that
good, affordable child care is not a luxury or fringe benefit for some families
but essential brain food for each child in the next generation.

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1-4 Valuing Cultural Diversity
As mentioned previously, child care settings are becoming increasingly
diverse. We can’t ignore these differences but rather need to respect,
embrace, and value them. It is important for the early childhood educator
to accept the challenge to develop a multicultural curriculum that involves
both parents and children because many young families are beginning to
explore their own cultural backgrounds.

Multicultural curriculum development fits into Vygotsky’s theory
of the dissemination of culture. He viewed cognitive development as a
socially mediated process, dependent on the support and guidance that
adults and more mature peers provide as children attempt new tasks (Berk,
2012). A culturally rich curriculum encourages the recognition of cultural
differences and helps young families connect with the traditions of their
own heritage and culture.

Each person employed in early childhood education draws upon his or
her own cultural model for behavior that is both relevant and meaningful
within his or her particular social and cultural group. The knowledge and
understanding that caregivers use with families is drawn primarily from
two sources: their educational knowledge base and their personal experi-
ences as family members and educators. Therefore, we need to recognize
and continually reexamine the way we put our knowledge into practice.
We need to develop scripts that allow us to learn more about the families’
cultural beliefs and values regarding the various aspects of child rearing. In
other words, we must create a method or sequence of events for getting to
know each family. That way, we can understand the family’s actions, atti-
tudes, and behavior, as well as their dreams and hopes for their child.

Consideration of cultural models can help us bring coherence to the
various pieces of information that we are gathering about families and orga-
nize our interpretation of that informa-
tion. Organizing and ongoing reflection
on what parents tell us about their strat-
egies can help us discover their cultural
model for caregiving, and then we can
compare it with the cultural models that
guide our own practice (Finn, 2003).

We caregivers must recognize the
richness and opportunity available to
us in our work with families of diverse
ethnic, racial, and cultural groups
(Photo 1–4). We can learn the differ-
ent ways that families provide care for
their children when they are all striv-
ing toward similar goals—happy and
healthy children who can function
successfully within the family culture
and the greater community. We can use
that knowledge to construct a cultural
model of culturally responsive practice,
designed to support families in their

scripts a method or sequence
of events to learn more about
each family’s cultural beliefs
and values regarding the
various aspects of child rearing.

PhOTO 1–4 More children with a wide diversity of
backgrounds are in early childhood education programs.

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caregiving and assist them in meeting their goals for their children (Finn,
2003; Rothstein-Fisch, Trumbull, & Garcia, 2009).

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory assumes the intercon-
nectedness of each person to others and examines the ways in which one
system affects another. It recognizes the importance of respecting each
individual’s uniqueness and considers carefully the decisions made at
every level that affect us all. This theory helps us understand that children
are not passive recipients of whatever happens in their environment but
are very involved in influencing their environment and aiding their own
development. It is important for the primary caregiver to understand that
even newborns have a part in their own growth and development. Infants’
wants, needs, and desires must be respected.

Take it as your individual responsibility to be aware of the power of
your actions and their immediate and future impact on children. When
you see that the early childhood educator also influences the family, com-
munity, and culture, you can truly understand the old African saying, “It
takes a village to raise a child.” This often-quoted saying is a simple way to
understand that Bronfenbrenner’s term bidirectional describes the relation-
ships that influence a child—occurring between child and father, child and
teacher, child and school—and explains that the influences go both ways.

1-1 Determine how the four major developmental
areas for assessment differ from one another.
Educators must come to understand how patterns of
development within the four major areas, physical,
emotional, social, and cognitive/language, are useful
to their work with young children. When teachers
working with infants and toddlers adopt a develop-
mental perspective, they are more apt to address the
capabilities of the children in their care. Teachers
and other adults must be consciously aware of how
a child is progressing in each area to create environ-
ments that facilitate her ideal development.

1-2 Explain the theories of child development.
This chapter also provided an overview of
major developmental theorists and theories that

impact teacher behaviors and classroom prac-
tices. Some theorists and theories were pre-
sented to provide a historical understanding
of past reasoning about young children. Other
theorists and theories were used to outline a
more contemporary understanding of young
children, their families, and contextual impacts
on both.

1-3 Justify how the use of Bronfenbrenner’s
ecological systems theory explains current trends
in development and education.
Bronfenbrenner’s theory was used as a frame-
work for understanding contextual variables
that directly and indirectly impact children’s
development.

Summary

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. Explain at least four current trends in early care and development.
2. How does the diversity of families in today’s society influence early education

programs and teachers?

r E A D I N G
C h E C K P O I N t

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1-4 Recognize the impact of each individual child’s
culture on classroom interactions and curriculum.
Early childhood education programs serve chil-
dren from a wide diversity of backgrounds. As

a result, there is an increased need for teacher
education regarding how to create culturally
responsive practices and materials in child care
curricula.

Additional Resources
Edwards, S. (2009). Early childhood education and

care: A sociocultural approach. Castle Hill, NSW,
Australia: Pademelon.

Hanson, M. J., & Lynch, E. W. (2013). Understanding
families: Supportive approaches to diversity, dis-
ability, and risk (2nd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Paul H.
Brookes.

Howes, C. (2010). Culture and child development in
early childhood programs: Practices for quality edu-
cation and care. New York: Teachers College Press.

Lally, J. R. (2013). For our babies: Ending the invisible
neglect of America’s infants. New York: Teachers
College Press.

Leach, P. (2009). Child care today: Getting it right for
everyone. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Lynch, E. W., & Hanson, M. J. (Eds.) (2011). Developing
cross-cultural competence: A guide for working with
children and their families (4th ed.). Baltimore, MD:
Paul H. Brookes.

Mooney, C. G. (2010). Theories of attachment: An introduc-
tion to Bowlby, Ainsworth, Gerber, Brazelton, Kennell,
and Klaus. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf.

Raikes, H., & Edwards, C. P. (2009). Extending the
dance in infant and toddler caregiving: Enhanc-
ing attachment and relationships. Baltimore, MD:
Brookes.

Applying Bronfenbrenner’s Theory

Trisha works at the Little Folks Child Care Center as
an assistant teacher while she attends classes at a local
community college to earn her associate degree in
early childhood education. She was surprised to learn
that her center was using family grouping with conti-
nuity of care. Although she always knew that she had
the same children from the time they enrolled until
they were around 3 years old, she did not know it was
associated with a particular term or of such great edu-
cational value. Currently, she assists the head teacher
with caring for eight children who range in age from
8 weeks to 17 months. Like those in the rest of the
program, this group of children is culturally diverse.
Trisha has worked with parents, staff, and the children
on multicultural issues; she always attempts to learn
more about each culture represented in her room. As
part of a course, she organized a tool for gathering
information about child-rearing practices and used
the results to individualize routine care times.

As she has learned new ideas, such as the pri-
mary caregiving system, accreditation standards, and
Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, she has
assumed a more active role in the microsystem. She has
repeatedly discussed with her director and lead teacher
the need to reduce the number of infants and toddlers
per classroom to six and to adopt a primary caregiving
system. Although they are enthusiastic about learning
more about the primary caregiving system, they have
not yet seriously considered cutting the class size by
two children per room, due to financial concerns.

1. Provide two examples of how Trisha has, in
her words, “assumed a more active role in the
microsystem.”

2. In what other systems does Trisha work? Provide
examples for each system you identify.

3. What might be the added benefits of the center
adopting a primary caregiving system even if it is
not possible for them to reduce the number of chil-
dren in each room?

TrishaC A S E S t U D Y

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© Cengage Learning

C h a p t e r

Physical and Cognitive/Language
Development

Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

2-1 Discuss the differences between
development and learning.

2-2 Investigate typical patterns of physical
development between birth and thirty-six
months of age.

2-3 Deconstruct typical patterns of cognitive/
language development between birth and
thirty-six months of age.

Standards Addressed
in This Chapter

NaeYC Standards
for early Childhood professional
preparation

1 Promoting Child Development and Learning

Developmentally appropriate
practice Guidelines

2 Teaching to Enhance Development and
Learning

In addition, the NAEYC standards for developmen-
tally appropriate practice are divided into six areas
particularly important to infant/toddler care. The
following area is addressed in this chapter: Policies.

2

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2-1 Differences between Development
and Learning
As mentioned in Chapter 1, developmental theories differ on a number of
controversies. That chapter discussed universal versus unique patterns of
development. In this chapter, we will investigate briefly the nature versus
nurture controversy. Some theorists contend that child development is the
result of heredity and natural biological processes, largely independent of
learning and experience (nature), whereas others argue that development
mostly depends on learning (nurture) (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013). The
best conclusion to date is that child development is a complex process
occurring through natural sequences and patterns that depend on learning
and experience, among other processes (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013).

Based on the nature-nurture complexity, this book defines development
as cumulative sequences and patterns that represent progressive, refined
changes that move a child from simple to more complex physical, cogni-
tive, language, social, and emotional growth and maturity. It is recognized
that although children grow in the developmental areas in the same general
sequences and patterns, each child is affected differ-
ently by social, cultural, and environmental influ-
ences. Children move through these developmental
sequences at widely varying rates.

In contrast, learning is operationally defined as
the acquisition of knowledge and skills through sys-
tematic study, instruction, practice, and/or experi-
ence. As such, learning requires action by a learner.
According to a blog by Boller (2012), “learning
implies ‘I’ am doing something. I am taking part and
doing the work.” This definition takes into consid-
eration both overt behavioral changes in responses
and more internal changes in perceptions result-
ing from practice or conscious awareness, or both.
In other words, changes in a response to a stimulus
either can be observable to another person (overt)
or can occur internally without obvious change in
observable behavior (internal). Both overt and inter-
nal learning occurs during the first three years of
life. Therefore, caregivers must consistently observe
the child very closely to understand how changes in
responses create the perceptions, thoughts, beliefs,
attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that constitute the
young child’s evolving map of the world. The big-
gest challenge for early childhood specialists is to
understand each child’s individual map for develop-
ment and learning because no two individuals can
have the same one.

Figure 2–1 represents three different ways to con-
ceptualize the relationship between development
and learning. Given the definitions provided for each,
which representation do you think fits best and why?

development Operationally
defined as general sequences
and patterns of growth and
maturity.

learning The acquisition of
new information through
experiences, investigation, or
interactions with another.

A Separate concepts

B Overlapping concepts

C Nested concepts

FIGURE 2–1 ◗ Possible Conceptualizations
of the Relationship between Development
and Learning

©
C

en
ga

ge
L

ea
rn

in
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2-2 Patterns of Physical Development
Physical development includes brain development, physical characteris-
tics, sensory, and motor. Each of these is discussed next. Other aspects of
physical development, such as teething, sleep patterns, and elimination
control, will be discussed in future chapters.

2-2a Brain Development
The nervous system is responsible for communication among all body
parts and ultimately with the environment. This section defines and famil-
iarizes the reader with the major nervous system functions. Newborns are
complex beings whose growth and development are closely related to the
health and integrity of the nervous system, which is made up of the brain,
the spinal cord, and nerve cells (neurons).

Brain development is particularly intense during the last weeks of
gestation and the first years of life. This is evidenced by the nonlinear
growth in the cranial perimeter and in the brain’s weight. According to
Dubois, Dehaene-Lambertz, Kulikova, Poupon, Huppi, and Hertz-Pannier
(2014), the cranial perimeter grows about 14 cm during the two first post-
natal years, followed by only 7 cm until adulthood (5.52 and 2.76 inches,
respectively). At birth, the brain weighs 25 percent of an adult’s, and by 24
months, it has tripled its weight, being about 80 percent of an adult’s. Both
of these changes can be attributed to growth in the brain’s white matter.
Specifically, brain cells called glia are coated in a fatty sheathing called
myelin. Myelin is a substance that protects, coats, and insulates neurons,
helping connect impulses from one neuron to another. These impulses are
coded information lines that function like insulated electrical wires, carry-
ing vital current to where it is needed in the body and brain. The myelin
coating promotes the transfer of information from one neuron to another.
This process, however, is not entirely under the control of genetic codes or
biologically driven factors because the human brain is not fully formed at
birth. This allows environmental stimuli to influence the development of
the human brain.

Motor neuron pathways, for example, apparently expect specific stim-
uli at birth. These pathways are called experience-expectant. The environ-
ment provides expected stimuli; for example, reflex sucking during
breastfeeding is experience-expectant. Infant survival obviously depends
on experience-expectant pathways. Another set of neuron pathways, called
experience-dependent, seems to wait for new experience before activation.
Specific experience-dependent cells form synapses for stable motor pat-
terns only after environmental stimuli are repeated several times. When
stimulation from the environment occurs in a consistent way, a stable path-
way is created, and physical changes occur in the nervous system.

As mentioned in Chapter 1, technological advancements have led to
a better understanding of how brain development results from complex
interactions between nature (i.e., genetic makeup) and nurture (i.e., envi-
ronmental factors). Whereas genes are initially responsible for the basic
wiring of the human brain, by the end of the eighth week of pregnancy, the
foundation for all body structures, including the brain and nervous system,

experience-expectant Type
of motor neuron pathway that
apparently expects specific
stimuli at birth.

experience-dependent Type
of motor neuron pathway
that waits for environmental
experiences before being
activated.

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is evident in the growing fetus. The electrical activ-
ity of brain cells while still in the womb changes the
physical structure of the brain, just as it will facilitate
learning after birth.

Using MRI technology, toddlers (18–22 months)
who were born at a very low birth weight were com-
pared to full-term babies and found to have differences
in the volume of their brain structures (Figure 2–2).
Some structures were larger, and other structures were
smaller (i.e., cerebral and cerebellum white matter,
thalamus, and hippocampus) (Lowe, Duvall, MacLean,
Caprihan, Ohls, Qualls, et al., 2011). The important
conclusion from this research is that both biological
and environmental factors interact in complex ways,
resulting in different developmental trajectories.

The human brain is organized into regions that are
predetermined for specific functions. For example, all
individuals have a language center and an emotion
center. However, environmental stimuli affect how the
language center and emotion center will develop due
to which neurological circuits are activated and the
number of times they are used (Fox, Levitt, & Nelson,
2010; Meyer, Wood, & Stanley, 2013). At birth, the brain
is packed with an estimated 100 billion neurons whose
job is to store and transmit information. The newborn’s
brain is constantly taking in information available in
the environment, utilizing all existing senses. The brain
records these pieces of information, whether they are
emotional, physical (sensory), social, or cognitive in
origin. This information influences the shape and cir-
cuitry of the neurons, or brain cells. The more data taken in, the stronger the
neuron connections and pathways become. A repeated behavior or the con-
sistency of a behavior increases the chance of the pathway becoming strong.

The brain has two specific yet different modes for responding to envi-
ronmental inputs. First, the neural pathways that are not consistently used
will be eliminated, or pruned. Many more neural pathways exist in the
brain than are efficient. When there is not a consistent pattern of stimula-
tion for some neural pathways, the brain’s job is to cut off the circuitry to
that area. This process streamlines children’s neural processing, making
the remaining circuits work more quickly and efficiently (Zero to Three,
2012). The second mode is called brain plasticity. This concept refers to
the process of adaptation; when one part of the brain is damaged, another
part of the brain takes over the functions of the damaged area. It also means
that if a major change occurs in the environment, infants can form new
neural pathways to adapt to the change. By gaining a deeper understand-
ing of brain plasticity, better therapies can be developed to improve
hemiparesis caused by cerebral palsy or childhood strokes (Johnston,
2009). Unfortunately, the human brain doesn’t have infinite capacity to
change; not all damage can be compensated for, and not all neural path-
ways can be replaced. What this means for us as caregivers is that infants

prune The elimination of
neural pathways that are not
consistently used.

brain plasticity When one part
of the brain is damaged, other
parts take over the functions of
the damaged parts.

hemiparesis Slight paralysis or
weakness affecting one side of
the body.

FIGURE 2–2 ◗ Structural MRI Comparing
Hippocampal Volume

0

1

2

3

4

0

1

2

3

4

a

b

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and toddlers are in the process of forming nerve pathways, and by provid-
ing them with the proper nutrition and experiences, we can influence the
quality of their brain development.

The nervous system is the “command center” for all the vital functions
of the body. Pathways and networks of neurons must be organized to carry
coded information from the brain to all body parts and vice versa. The brain
is comprised of complex systems that interact with each other and with
other parts of the body to create all thoughts, feelings, actions, and reactions
(Figure 2–3). For ease of understanding, the brain is discussed here as being
divided into three main parts; each part is further divided into specialized
regions with specific functions (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013). The hindbrain
is responsible for regulating automatic functions, such as breathing, diges-
tion, alertness, and balance. This part of the brain also controls motor move-
ment coordination and muscle tone in an area referred to as the cerebellum.
This is also the site for storing emotional knowledge. Another part of the
brain, called the midbrain, controls visual system reflexes (e.g., eye move-
ments, pupil dilation), auditory system functions, and voluntary motor
functions. In addition, the midbrain connects the hindbrain to the forebrain.
Like an old-time telephone operator’s switchboard, this part of the brain
tells the forebrain what messages from the hindbrain to respond to. The
forebrain is what distinguishes our species as human; it contains the cere-
bral cortex, which produces all of our complex thoughts, emotional
responses, decision-making, reasoning, and communicating.

hindbrain The portion of the
brain responsible for regulating
automatic functions and
emotional knowledge; contains
the cerebellum, which controls
motor movement coordination
and muscle tone.

midbrain The portion of the
brain that controls visual system
reflexes, auditory functions,
and voluntary motor functions;
connects the hindbrain to the
forebrain.

forebrain The portion of
the brain that contains the
cerebral cortex, which produces
all of our complex thoughts,
emotional responses, decision-
making, reasoning, and
communicating.

FIGURE 2–3 ◗ The Human Brain

Forebrain (Cerebrum)

Midbrain

Hindbrain (Cerebellum)

Spinal cord

Fr
om

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A

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IC

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M

PT
O

N
, C

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N
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sc

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nc

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3

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.

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Considered the most important part of the brain, the cerebral cortex is
the slowest growing and largest part. Around 12 months, the cerebral cortex
begins to organize and specify functions for neuron activity. Other parts of
the brain continue to grow rapidly only through the second year, whereas
the cerebral cortex continues to grow until the fourth decade of life.

The cerebral cortex receives stimuli in the form of sensory informa-
tion. Associations are formed between the thought processes and physical
actions or experiences. Specific areas of the cerebral cortex control spe-
cial functions, such as planning, problem solving, and decision making
(frontal lobes), vision and color recognition (occipital lobes), receiving and
processing sensory information (parietal lobes), and emotional responses,
memory, and production of language (temporal lobes). Neurological devel-
opment of these specialized areas follows predictable patterns as the over-
all development of the child progresses due to related brain development.

Brain development during infancy is best promoted when caregivers
engage in developmentally appropriate practices, especially those associ-
ated with creating positive relationships with very young children. Respon-
sive adults tend to provide infants proper nutrition; protect them from harm
and excessive stress; soothe them when they are distressed; and talk about
objects, patterns, or people who have attracted their attention (Prado &
Dewey, 2012; Shore, 2003). Infants rely on adults to help them regulate their
emotions, toddlers are exploring their new freedoms of mobility, and teachers
provide a pivotal role in it all. Watch what they are trying to do, and find ways
to support them without being intrusive. When they have mastered a task,
challenge them to go to the next level. For example, when infants are able to
push up, adults can lay them on their bellies with an interesting toy or mirror
at their sight level. During such interactions, adults need to provide support
and guidance that is nurturing, responsive, and reassuring. Thus, responsive
caregiving by parents, teachers, and others is a major factor in brain devel-
opment. Competent caregivers for infants and toddlers recognize the impact
they have on the children’s neurological growth; they initiate activities that
reinforce the natural sequences of behaviors supporting healthy growth in all
areas. The adult role is critical because early experiences significantly affect
how each child’s brain is wired (Patterson & Vakili, 2014; see also Fox et al.,
2010, and Meyer et al., 2013, for reviews). Positive social, emotional, cogni-
tive, language, and physical experiences all work together with the child’s
biological and genetic makeup to influence the development of a healthy

As mentioned previously, most family members do
not always recognize or understand the importance of
brain development in the first three years of life. What
could you do with the families you work most closely
with to change that situation? Consider what informa-
tion you would share and how you would share it.

Now think about how to share this information with
your greater community. How would you go about

setting up a brain development event? Who in the
community would you expect to target? Do you want
to focus, for example, on grandparents or business
owners? What information would you share with this
audience, and how would you share it? Find at least
two local, state, or national organizations that you
could partner with to bring this information to your
community.

Family and Community Connection

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brain. In addition, as you will explore in more depth later, the prevention of
developmental and learning issues through high-quality adult-child interac-
tions and healthy environments is always preferred over providing interven-
tion services later (Hyson & Biggar Tomlinson, 2014).

2-2b physical Growth
Human babies are different from those of any other species because they
can’t stand immediately after birth and so can’t get themselves out of
harm’s way. Physical growth in terms of body weight, however, occurs at
an astounding rate during the first 12 months of life when infants are phys-
ically nurtured and active. Height usually parallels weight, so children
who gain weight slowly in the first three years also tend to grow in height
slowly. In general, a baby gains an average of 10 inches in height and triples
his birth weight during his first year (KidsHealth, 2014a). Growth slows
significantly during the toddler years, as often does the child’s appetite.
Caregivers should be aware that large variations occur in the rate of physi-
cal growth in children under 3 years of age. Growth spurts and plateaus are
normal for development of height, weight, activity levels, and so on; there-
fore, the caregiver should keep careful records of observations of physical
growth and share them with parents on a regular basis.

caUSeS anD eFFecTS

Approximately 1,300 infants in the United States expe-
rience severe or fatal head trauma each year as the result
of abuse (National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome,
nd). Shaken baby syndrome occurs when a baby or
child is violently shaken by an adult or older child.
Damage can occur if the shaking lasts for only a few sec-
onds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC, nd), children under the age of 1 (espe-
cially babies ages 2 to 4 months) are at greatest risk of
injury from shaking. Shaking them violently can trigger
a “whiplash” effect that can lead to internal injuries. An
infant’s neck muscles aren’t strong enough to provide
sufficient support for the head; violent shaking “pitches
the infant’s brain back and forth within the skull, some-
times rupturing blood vessels and nerves throughout
the brain and tearing the brain tissue. The brain may
strike the inside of the skull, causing bruising and
bleeding to the brain” (KidsHealth, 2014b, para. 7).

This syndrome can result in death or severe and
irreparable damage. Some common outcomes include
the following:

●● Blindness
●● Mental retardation or developmental delays (any

significant lags in a child’s physical, cognitive,

behavioral, emotional, or social development, in
comparison with norms) and learning disabilities

●● Cerebral palsy
●● Severe motor dysfunction (muscle weakness or

paralysis)
●● Spasticity (a condition in which certain muscles

are continuously contracted—this contraction
causes stiffness or tightness of the muscles and may
interfere with movement, speech, and manner of
walking)

●● Seizures (CDC, nd)
Some researchers have begun to investigate hear-

ing losses associated with shaken baby syndrome as
some preliminary evidence suggests it could accom-
pany these other outcomes (Alzahrani, Ratelle, Cavel,
Laberge-Malo, & Saliba, 2014). The overall prevalence
of hearing loss as the result of being shaken has not yet
been established.

Shaken baby syndrome does not result from nor-
mal parent-child play interactions such as tossing a
baby in the air or bouncing her on your knee (CDC, nd;
Kids Health, 2014) or by accidental falls (Yamazaki,
Yoshida, & Mizunuma, 2014). It is the result of at least
one abusive event.

shaken baby syndrome
Damage that occurs when a
baby or child is violently shaken
by an adult or older child.

Spotlight on Shaken Baby Syndrome

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Photo 2–1 Talk with infants about
what interests them, such as what they
are looking at or what they are hearing.

As you have no doubt observed, the newborn’s head is the largest part
of the body. Babies often look disproportional when comparing the size of
the head to the rest of the body. Even though the head is large, it is not fully
developed. At birth, the bones in the baby’s head are not fused, but rather
“soft spots” are found in the front and back of the head. The back soft spot
closes after a few months, but the front spot stays soft for almost two years.
These soft spots allow space for the growth of the brain (especially from
the myelinization process) as described previously. Adults must protect
the baby’s head from bumps and during falls, and they must never shake a
baby for any reason.

Almost all infants are born with well-defined reflexes or automatic
responses. These responses are important when the infant is faced with
particular environmental stimuli because they are not yet able to think
through and coordinate a response. For example, if a bright light is shone
in an infant’s eyes, he will automatically close his eyes. Or, if a finger is
placed in his mouth, he will begin to suck without thinking.

Several reflexes form the beginnings of more complex behavior. In
other words, they change from involuntary reactions to purposeful, inten-
tional actions that support the growing child over time. For example, the
rooting and sucking reflexes that are initially necessary for feeding can be
combined with the ability to bring the hand to mouth so that the older
infant can comfort herself.

The purposes of other reflexes are less well understood. The plantar
grasp reflex, to illustrate, is evident when the sole of the foot is stroked
causing the toes to flex. How this reflex assists the newborn is not well
understood. However, an absent or weak reflex can be a sign of neurological
problems.

2-2c Hearing and Vision Development
Newborns respond to a range of sounds. They startle easily
with sudden loud noises and become agitated at high-pitched
noises. They turn their heads to locate sound and show inter-
est in their caregivers’ voices (Photo 2–1). Infants explore
their own utterings and use their bodies and toys to play with
sound. Infants who are later discovered to be deaf or have
impaired hearing coo and babble according to expected devel-
opmental patterns for the first few months. As hearing chil-
dren increase their quantity and variability of babbling, deaf or
hard-of-hearing children actually decrease (Marschark, 2007).
This is why hearing problems can be difficult to detect until
7 or 8 months of age, even with universal newborn hearing
screenings. For children who underwent routine screening
(e.g., at the hospital after birth or at well-baby checkups), the
diagnosis for severe to profound hearing loss was 6.8 months,
while children who did not have such screening were not diag-
nosed, on average, until 20.5 months (Canale, Favero, Lacilla,
Recchia, Schindler, Roggero, et al., 2006). While it might seem
counterintuitive that early screening does not result in a diag-
nosis until six months later, it is important to consider that

reflexes Automatic responses
that are present at birth.

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ViSiOn in inFanTS anD TODDLerS

Infants use their eyes from birth, although their vision
develops relatively slowly. By the fourth month, coor-
dination of both eyes can be observed. Four-month-old
infants demonstrated looking preferences that were
similar to adult preferences when given simple visual,
black-and-white displays (Chien, Palmer, & Teller,
2005). They focus well with both eyes at a distance of
12 inches, which is the normal distance for breastfeed-
ing. By age 2, vision is around 20/80; full 20/20 acuity
is not expected until they reach school age.

In one of the most comprehensive studies to date,
Hatton, Ivy, and Boyer (2013) investigated 5,931 children

age 3 and younger with severe, uncorrectable visual
impairments in the United States. They discovered that
the three most prevalent diagnoses were cortical visual
impairment, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), and
optic nerve hypoplasia. For those children whose legal
blindness status was known, 60 percent were iden-
tified as legally blind. In addition, they found that a
diagnosis of a vision impairment was made at the mean
age of 4.9 months. As you may recall, this is approxi-
mately two months sooner than a hearing impairment
diagnosis is typically made. However, similar to a hear-
ing impairment, referrals did not result in entry into a
specialized intervention program until, on average, six
months later.

Spotlight on Research

at least one follow-up evaluation must be conducted to determine the
type and severity of the hearing impairment (Vos, Lagassea, & Levêquea,
2014). Late diagnosis has implications for the impact of early interven-
tion strategies on improving speech, language, and cognitive develop-
ment outcomes as well as the quality of parent and infant life (Canale
et al., 2006; Lachowska, Surowiec, Morawski, Pierchała, & Niemczyk,
2014; Vos et al., 2014).

2-2d Motor Development
One theory of motor development, called the dynamic systems theory, pre-
dicts that individual behaviors and skills of the growing infant combine
and work together to create a more efficient and effective system. Reach-
ing, grabbing, and putting an object in the mouth are put together when
eating with a spoon. Each new skill is acquired by practicing, revising,
and combining earlier accomplishments to fit a new goal. Consequently,
infants typically achieve motor milestones around the same time but in
unique ways.

Physical development occurs in a predictable order, starting from the
head and chest and moving to the trunk and lower extremities. This direc-
tional growth is readily observable as the infant gains control of head,
chest, trunk, and then legs to turn over. To crawl, the infant gains con-
trol of lower back and leg muscles; to walk, the infant gains control of
neck, shoulders, back, legs, feet, and toes. Infants develop control of their
arm movements from erratic waving to accurate reaching. Hand control
develops from accidentally bumping and hitting to purposefully touching.
Reaching occurs first, with an open hand grip. Then the fingers develop,
from reflexive pinching, grasping, and reflexive releasing to controlled
opening and closing.

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Physical development involves both large movements, or gross motor
control, and small muscle activity, fine motor control. Gross motor devel-
opment involves large movements through milestone achievements, such
as crawling, standing, walking, and throwing. Fine motor development
milestones involve smaller, more refined movements, such as grasping and
pointing. Three areas of movement that develop over the first three years
are (1) stability, (2) locomotion, and (3) manipulation. Stability refers to sit-
ting and standing upright; locomotion refers to crawling, walking, and run-
ning; and manipulation includes reaching, grasping, releasing, and
throwing.

Milestones of development are essential for teachers to know because
although the progression of motor development is fairly uniform, indi-
vidual children vary within and between cultures in the age at which
they develop both gross and fine motor skills. Appendix A provides an
overview of Developmental Milestones for motor skill for infants through
3 years of age. At around 6 weeks old, infants begin to hold their heads
steady and erect. By 2 months, they lift their upper bodies by their arms
and can roll from side to back. From 3 to 4 months, babies begin grasping
palm-size objects and can roll from back to side. From 6 to 8 months, they
can sit alone and begin to crawl. Between 8 and 10 months, babies pull
up to stand and perhaps play patty cake. At this time they begin to stand
alone, and then begin to walk. From 13 to 16 months, children can build
a tower of two cubes, vigorously scribble with a large crayon, and begin
to walk up stairs with help. At around 20 to 24 months, toddlers begin
to jump in place and kick objects. By 26 to 30 months, children begin to
climb, stand on one foot, and have some interest in toilet learning. Usu-
ally at around 36 months, the child can jump and independently use
the toilet.

As this general outline indicates, motor development does support
the dynamic systems theory described earlier. Children progress from one
milestone behavior to the next, based on successful integration of the pre-
vious behaviors and neurological maturity resulting from environmental
experiences. Children who develop within the average range do not nec-
essarily proceed through all of the developmental milestones or move in
the exact sequence because movement forward in skill development is
interspersed with periods of regression (Gershkoff-Stowe & Thelen, 2004).
It is hypothesized that those periods of regression occur because children
are uniquely combining old and new skills together, which can result in
behaviors appearing to be less developed in one context than in another
(Gershkoff-Stowe & Thelen, 2004).

Moving away from dynamic systems theory momentarily, we will con-
sider the impact of the environment on physical development. Humphrey
and Olivier (2014) investigated the impact of having a teenager mentor work
with a selected toddler or preschooler for 1.5 hours a week for 18 weeks on
seven areas of development. They found that the young children who were
paired with a mentor had significantly higher levels of physical develop-
ment when compared to the control group. This research suggests that one-
on-one mentoring can positively impact the acquisition of physical skills
and promote physical development.

gross motor control The
control of large muscles.

fine motor control The ability
to control small muscles such as
those in the hands and fingers.

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PhOTO 2–2 Walking is a milestone of physical development.

In a review of research, Cardon,
Craemer, De Bourdeaudhuij, and
Verloigne (2014) explored the impact
of intervention projects with par-
ents, teachers, and schools, espe-
cially those programs with a focus on
creating environments that support
healthy behaviors. When parents par-
ticipated in intervention studies that
provided information on the impor-
tance of physical activity, Belgian
preschoolers engaged in more mod-
erate to vigorous physical activity
during after-school hours. When
preschool and elementary schools
modified their outdoor learning envi-
ronments to increase play space,
children’s physical activity levels
also increased. Minimal results were
found for teachers who participated
in research interventions regard-

ing sedentary behavior. The authors hypothesized that teachers’ personal
beliefs and perceptions might be creating barriers to adopting new prac-
tices. Thus, it is clear from this research that the ecology (e.g., environ-
ments) young children experience can either positively or negatively
impact their levels of physical development.

No matter whether a physical skill is the result of a system integration
or environmental impacts, the challenge for early educators is to observe
physical skills and milestones and determine where individual children
fall on the general scale of motor development (Photo 2–2). By performing
evaluations on a regular basis, caregivers can determine whether an area
of motor development requires specific tasks and experiences to enhance
development and whether there are areas in which the child shows
advanced development in motor skills.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
prompts about the material discussed so far.

1. You have been asked to debate the relationship between development and
learning. What position will you take and why?

2. Explain how the growth of the brain demonstrates the complex interaction
between nature (i.e., genetics or biology) and nurture (i.e., environmental
factors).

3. Describe how being born with a physical deformity such as cleft lip/palate
influences not only physical development but also social and emotional
development.

4. Identify the major milestones for motor development from birth to 3 years
of age, and choose two examples (not already provided) that illustrate the
dynamic systems theory.

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

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2-3 Patterns of Cognitive and Language
Development
As mentioned in Chapter 1, the most widely applied theories of higher
cognition are Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory and Vygotsky’s
sociocultural theory. Later chapters detail several applications of these
theories in educational settings, but major principles from each theory are
discussed here before we move into language development.

2-3a Cognitive Development: piaget’s theory of reasoning
Newborns use all their senses—listening, seeing, tasting, touching, and
smelling—to learn about their world. This leads young children to think
differently from adults. Adults are logical thinkers; they consider facts,
analyze relationships, and draw conclusions. Young children are prel-
ogical thinkers; their conclusions are based on their interactions with
materials and people in their environment and perhaps on an incom-
plete or inaccurate understanding of their experiences. For example,
2 1/2-year-old Ivan has made a tilting stack of blocks. When he places a
small car on top of the blocks, the stack tumbles down. Ivan tells Mrs.
Young that the car broke the blocks. Ivan has constructed his understand-
ing based on his interactions with the materials. He does not yet under-
stand gravity, the need to stack blocks straight up rather than at a tilt, and
the impact of the car’s rolling wheels. The object Ivan put on the stack
just before it fell was the car; as far as Ivan is concerned, the car broke the
blocks.

Jean Piaget’s research contributed significantly to the knowledge of
cognitive development in young children. A brilliant young scientist,
Piaget began his studies as a biologist. Later, listening to children
respond to questions on an intelligence test, he became intrigued by their
incorrect responses and the patterns of their verbal reasoning. Combin-
ing his scientific orientation, his knowledge of biology, and his experi-
ences with the children’s incorrect response patterns, Piaget began to
study children’s cognitive development. Piaget’s clinical observation
method included close observations of his own three young children as
well as many other children in his extensive subsequent research. He
observed what children did and wrote narrative descriptions. Later, ana-
lyzing these detailed observations, he developed his theories of cogni-
tive development. Piaget’s (1952) approach is central to the school of
cognitive theory known as cognitive constructivism because young chil-
dren actively construct knowledge about themselves and their world.
They interact with materials in their environment and construct their
own understanding and meaning of the events. Each of their actions and
interpretations is unique to them. Young children’s thinking organizes
information about their experiences so they can construct their own
understanding.

However, central to Piaget’s theory is that there are stages of cognitive
development; that is, 4-month-olds are cognitively different from 24-month-
olds. Piaget contended that the sequence of development is the same for all

cognitive constructivism
Theory that describes learning
as the active construction of
knowledge. humans organize
information about their
experiences and therefore
construct understanding
based on their interactions
with materials and people
in their environment. This is
also referred to as individual
constructivism.

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children. However, the age and rate at which it occurs
differ from child to child. Children develop higher
cognitive skills in a systematic manner through four
stages: (1) sensorimotor, (2) preoperational, (3) con-
crete operational, and (4) formal operational. At each of
these stages, similar structures of intelligence are used
to learn: adaptation, organization, and schemas.

Adaptation involves using schemes that have
direct interaction with the environment, for example,
grasping and dropping an object over and over.
Accommodation involves changing schemes to better
fit the requirements of a task or new information.
Thus, a child will change or alter his or her strategies
to fit the requirements of a task. For example, banging
on a hard toy will produce a noise. Yet, when faced
with a soft toy, the child finds that banging is insuffi-
cient to produce a response. Squeezing might be tried
instead. When children are in a familiar situation,
they function by means of assimilation, which
involves dealing with an object or event in a way that
is consistent with their existing schemes (McDevitt &
Ormrod, 2013) (Photo 2–3). When children are in
such situations, they are considered to be in the inter-
nal state called equilibrium. Their current cognitive
schemes work to explain their environment. However,
when faced with information that is contrary to their
current schemes and understanding or placed in an
unfamiliar situation, they experience disequilibrium.
This internal mental state provides a motivation for
learning because the children are uncomfortable
and seek to make sense of what they have observed

or experienced. The movement from equilibrium to disequilibrium and
back to equilibrium again is known as equilibration. Equilibration and
children’s intrinsic desire to achieve equilibrium move development
toward greater complexity of thought and knowledge (McDevitt  &
Ormrod, 2013).

Another cognitive function through which schemes are changed is
called organization, which takes place internally. Organization is a pro-
cess of rearranging new patterns of actions and linking them with other
patterns to form a cognitive system. For example, a baby will eventually
relate the actions for sucking, dropping, and throwing with new, more
complex ideas of near and far. As you can imagine, these more complex
ideas are actual cognitive concepts or schemas used to organize the child’s
understanding of the world.

The schema of ball is constructed as Shane sees, touches, holds, and
tastes a ball. When faced with new information, for example, when he sees
the ball bounce for the first time, that does not fit into his schema of “ball-
ness.” He continues to construct his knowledge of ball-ness by reorganizing
his schema so that now bouncing is included in ball-ness. Shane’s schema

adaptation a change in
behavior that helps the
child survive in his or her
environment; described by
piaget as a cognitive skill.

accommodation piaget’s
process of changing or
altering skills to better fit the
requirements of a task.

assimilation piaget’s way
of explaining how children
refine cognitive structures into
schemes.

equilibrium a state of
homeostasis or balance that
reflects how an infant’s or
toddler’s current cognitive
schemes work to explain his or
her environment.

disequilibrium an internal
mental state that motivates
learning because the child is
uncomfortable and seeks to
make sense of what he or she
has observed or experienced.

equilibration The movement
from equilibrium to
disequilibrium and back to
equilibrium again.

organization a process
of rearranging new sets
of information (schemes)
and linking them to other
established schemes, resulting
in an expanded cognitive
system.

schemas piaget’s concept
to explain cognitive patterns
of actions used to learn new
information.

PhOTO 2–3 Hard rattles are good for chewing
on! According to Piaget, this infant learned
this through the processes of assimilation
and accommodation while exploring the
environment.

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

of ball today is different from his schema yesterday, when he had not
noticed a bouncing ball. Individual experiences and behavior bring about
changes in schemas.

Although some of the hypotheses of Piaget’s theory have come into
question after the advent of research demonstrating that infants and tod-
dlers have been seriously underestimated in their cognitive skills by Piaget
(Bergin  & Bergin, 2012; Newcombe, 2013), the interpretation of those
results from a Piagetian perspective continues to be a controversy in the
field (Bibace, 2012; Kagan, 2008). However, this author believes the princi-
ples and stages defined by Piaget have value for the caregiver in supporting
very young children in their cognitive development. Thus, our discussion
will turn next to his stages of cognitive development.

Piaget’s first two stages of cognitive development involve children
between birth and 3 years of age. These stages, the sensorimotor stage and
the beginning of the preoperational stage, are the aspects of cognitive devel-
opment relevant to an infant and toddler curriculum. The sensorimotor
stage starts at birth, when the baby explores self and the environment. Sen-
sorimotor development involves the infant understanding his or her body
and how it relates to other things in the environment (Piaget & Inhelder,
1969). Yet, how infants explore objects and, therefore, think, changes
over time.

A recent longitudinal study videotaped mother-infant interactions
four times between 4 months and 12 months of age to investigate object
exploration. They found that, at 4 months, infants focused all of their
sensory modalities on objects introduced by the mother (de Barbaro,
Johnson, & Deák, 2013). Later, between 6 and 12 months, infants began
to separate their sensorimotor exploration so that their eyes and hands
were doing different things. For example, infants may hold a toy in one
hand, explore it with the other, and look at family members at the same
time. This outcome is called triadic attention (baby, family member, and
object). Triadic attention allows for increased conversation and inter-
action around the object. Previous researchers had concluded that tri-
adic attention is a novel social-cognitive function that emerges around
12 months (see de Barbaro et al., 2013, for a review). However, this study
clearly demonstrated that actions in each session built on those observed
in earlier sessions. The authors concluded that triadic attention is based
on “continuous changes in the activity of our participants rather than a
simple shift in internal structures” (de Barbaro et al., 2013, p. 246). In
other words, slowly, over time, increased infant skills elicited new behav-
iors from the mother, which provided novel opportunities for triadic
attention.

As you can see, the earliest form of thinking occurs during the sen-
sorimotor stage. Three key aspects of development occur during this
early stage: (1) infants play an assertive role in their own development,
(2) their knowledge base is acquired by means of their own actions in
the environment, and (3) infants need moderate challenges provided by
adults and materials to master the environment. For caregivers, tasks
should be provided that challenge babies but are not beyond their ability
to succeed.

children. However, the age and rate at which it occurs
differ from child to child. Children develop higher
cognitive skills in a systematic manner through four
stages: (1) sensorimotor, (2) preoperational, (3) con-
crete operational, and (4) formal operational. At each of
these stages, similar structures of intelligence are used
to learn: adaptation, organization, and schemas.

Adaptation involves using schemes that have
direct interaction with the environment, for example,
grasping and dropping an object over and over.
Accommodation involves changing schemes to better
fit the requirements of a task or new information.
Thus, a child will change or alter his or her strategies
to fit the requirements of a task. For example, banging
on a hard toy will produce a noise. Yet, when faced
with a soft toy, the child finds that banging is insuffi-
cient to produce a response. Squeezing might be tried
instead. When children are in a familiar situation,
they function by means of assimilation, which
involves dealing with an object or event in a way that
is consistent with their existing schemes (McDevitt &
Ormrod, 2013) (Photo 2–3). When children are in
such situations, they are considered to be in the inter-
nal state called equilibrium. Their current cognitive
schemes work to explain their environment. However,
when faced with information that is contrary to their
current schemes and understanding or placed in an
unfamiliar situation, they experience disequilibrium.
This internal mental state provides a motivation for
learning because the children are uncomfortable
and seek to make sense of what they have observed

or experienced. The movement from equilibrium to disequilibrium and
back to equilibrium again is known as equilibration. Equilibration and
children’s intrinsic desire to achieve equilibrium move development
toward greater complexity of thought and knowledge (McDevitt  &
Ormrod, 2013).

Another cognitive function through which schemes are changed is
called organization, which takes place internally. Organization is a pro-
cess of rearranging new patterns of actions and linking them with other
patterns to form a cognitive system. For example, a baby will eventually
relate the actions for sucking, dropping, and throwing with new, more
complex ideas of near and far. As you can imagine, these more complex
ideas are actual cognitive concepts or schemas used to organize the child’s
understanding of the world.

The schema of ball is constructed as Shane sees, touches, holds, and
tastes a ball. When faced with new information, for example, when he sees
the ball bounce for the first time, that does not fit into his schema of “ball-
ness.” He continues to construct his knowledge of ball-ness by reorganizing
his schema so that now bouncing is included in ball-ness. Shane’s schema

adaptation A change in
behavior that helps the
child survive in his or her
environment; described by
Piaget as a cognitive skill.

accommodation Piaget’s
process of changing or
altering skills to better fit the
requirements of a task.

assimilation Piaget’s way
of explaining how children
refine cognitive structures into
schemes.

equilibrium A state of
homeostasis or balance that
reflects how an infant’s or
toddler’s current cognitive
schemes work to explain his or
her environment.

disequilibrium An internal
mental state that motivates
learning because the child is
uncomfortable and seeks to
make sense of what he or she
has observed or experienced.

equilibration The movement
from equilibrium to
disequilibrium and back to
equilibrium again.

organization A process
of rearranging new sets
of information (schemes)
and linking them to other
established schemes, resulting
in an expanded cognitive
system.

schemas Piaget’s concept
to explain cognitive patterns
of actions used to learn new
information.

sensorimotor stage Piaget’s
first stage of cognitive
development, which is
focused on motor activity and
coordination of movements.

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Sensorimotor Stage
The sensorimotor stage of cognitive development occurs from birth to
about age 2. Piaget identified six substages.

Substage 1 Reflex
(birth to approximately
1 month)

Reflex actions become more organized.
Directed behavior emerges.

Substage 2 Differentiation
(approximately
1–4 months)

Repeats own actions.
Begins to coordinate actions, such as
hearing and looking.

Substage 3 Reproduction
(approximately
4–8 months)

Intentionally repeats interesting actions.

Substage 4 Coordination
(approximately
8–12 months)

Intentionally acts as a means to an end.
Develops concept of object permanence
(an object exists even when the infant
cannot see it).

Substage 5 Experimentation
(approximately
12–18 months)

Experiments through trial and error.
Searches for new experiences.

Substage 6 Representation
(approximately
18–24 months)

Carries out mental trial and error.
Develops symbols.

Preoperational Stage
The early part of the preoperational stage is called the preconceptual sub-
stage and occurs from about 2 to 4 years of age. At this time, the child
can now mentally sort events and objects. With the development of object
permanence, the child is moving toward representing objects and actions
in his or her thinking without having to have actual sensorimotor experi-
ences. Development and structuring of these mental representations is the
task undertaken during the preoperational stage of cognitive development.
Cowan (1978) outlined the preoperational stage as follows:

Preconceptual substage
Mentally sorts objects and actions.
Mental symbols are partly detached from experience.

Nonverbal classification
Organizes objects graphically.
Focuses on figurative properties.
Forms own interpretations.

Verbal preconcepts
Meanings of words fluctuate and are not always the same for the

child.
Meanings of words are private, based on own experience.
Word names and labels are tied to one class.
Words focus on one attribute at a time.

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Verbal reasoning
Reasons tranductively—from particular to particular.
If one action is in some way like another action, both actions are

alike in all ways.
Generalizes one situation to all situations.
Reasoning is sometimes backward—from effects to causes.
Reasoning focuses on one dimension.

Quantity
How much?
Some, more, gone, big.

Number
How many?
More, less.

Space
Where?
Uses guess and visual comparison.
Up, down, behind, under, over.

Time
Remembers sequence of life events.
Now, soon, before, after.

Piaget identified, beyond his four stages, the importance of three types of
knowledge and the positive impact of play on the constructing knowledge.

Types of Knowledge
Physical knowledge is knowledge children discover in the world around
them. Twenty-five-month-old Tommy kicks a pine needle as he walks in
the play yard. He picks up the pine needle, throws it, and picks it up again.
He drops it in the water tray, picks it up, and pulls it through the water.
Tommy has discovered something about pine needles from the needle
itself. Tommy uses actions and observations of the effects of his actions on
the pine needle to construct his physical knowledge of pine needles.

Kamii and DeVries (1978) have identified two kinds of activities
involving physical knowledge: movement of objects and changes in
objects. Actions to move objects include “pulling, pushing, rolling, kick-
ing, jumping, blowing, sucking, throwing, swinging, twirling, balancing,
and dropping” (p. 6). The child causes the object to move and observes it
rolling, bouncing, cracking, and so on. Kamii and DeVries (1978) suggest
four criteria for selecting activities to move objects.

1. The child must be able to produce the movement by his or her own
action.

2. The child must be able to vary his or her action.

3. The reaction of the object must be observable.

4. The reaction of the object must be immediate (p. 9).

A second kind of activity involves changes in objects. Compared to a
ball, which when kicked, will move but still remain a ball, some objects
change. When Kool-Aid is put in water, it changes. Ann sees the dry Kool-
Aid and observes that something happens when it is added to water. She can

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no longer see anything that looks like the dry Kool-Aid. She sees the water
change color and can taste the difference between water without Kool-Aid
and water with Kool-Aid in it. Her observation skills (seeing and tasting) are
most important to provide her with feedback on the changes that occur.

Logico-mathematical knowledge is constructed by the child and
involves identifying relationships between objects. Andrea is in the sand-
box playing with two spoons: a teaspoon and a serving spoon. She notices
the spoons are different. Although they fit into her schema of spoon, she
notices some difference in size. Thus, in relationship to size, they are dif-
ferent. At some time, someone will label these differences for her as differ-
ent or bigger or smaller than the other, but these words are not necessary
for her to construct her concepts of sizes.

Social-arbitrary knowledge is knowledge a child cannot learn by him-
self or herself. It has been constructed and agreed upon by groups of peo-
ple (Branscombe, Castle, Dorsey, Surbeck, & Taylor, 2003). This type of
knowledge is passed on or transmitted from one person to another through
social interaction. “Language, values, rules, morality, and symbol systems
are examples of social-arbitrary knowledge” (Wadsworth, 1978, p. 52).

Chad is eating a banana. He bites it, sucks on it, swallows it, looks at
the remaining banana, and squeezes it. All of these are concrete actions
that help him construct his physical knowledge of this object. Then some-
one tells him this object is a banana. The name banana is social-arbitrary
knowledge. It could have been called ningina or lalisa, but everyone using
the English language uses banana to name that object.

In another example of social-arbitrary knowledge, Kurt follows
Mrs. Wesley into the storage room. She sees him and says, “Kurt, go back
into our room right now. You are not supposed to be in this room.” Kurt did
not make the decision that it is not permissible for him to be in the storage
room; someone else decided and told him the rule.

Play
Play is the child’s laboratory for cognitive
trial and error and rehearsal for real-life
problem solving. Children begin active
pretend play between 18 and 24 months
(Photo 2–4). As they rapidly develop
symbols and interpretations and start to
reason verbally, complex sequences of
play are executed. For example, 2-year-
olds might play “cooking,” using blocks
and sticks for food and utensils. From
basic themes, children develop more
complex strategies, perhaps using water
and sand to explore measurement while
learning about textures, temperatures,
smells, and liquidity. Table 2–1 presents
levels of exploratory and pretend play.
Play develops from simple mouth-
ing and touching objects to extremely
abstract activity, in which materials are

PhOTO 2–4 Children begin enjoying pretend play between
18 and 24 months.

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substituted and transformed to make up a complete story with beginning,
middle, and end.

2-3b Cognitive Development: Vygotsky’s Sociocultural theory
Vygotsky viewed cognitive development as an interaction between children
and their social environment. For Vygotsky, knowledge is co-constructed
through social interactions. When an adult engages the child in problems
that are just above what his or her independent problem solving indicates,
the adult supports properties of the child’s intellectual functions that are
emerging but not yet fully matured (Christy, 2013; Gredler, 2012). Cultural
tools mediate and facilitate this co-construction of knowledge; the most

TABLE 2–1 ◗ Levels of Exploratory and Pretend Play

1. Mouthing: indiscriminate mouthing of materials

2. Simple manipulation: Visually guided manipulation (excluding indiscriminate banging
and shaking) at least 5 seconds in duration that cannot be coded in any other category
(e.g., turn over an object, touch and look at an object)

3. Functional: Visually guided manipulation that is particularly appropriate for a certain
object and involves the intentional extraction of some unique piece of information (e.g.,
turn dial on toy phone, squeeze piece of foam rubber, flip antenna of toy, spin wheels on
cart, roll cart on wheels)

4. relational: Bringing together and integrating two or more materials in an inappropriate
manner, that is, in a manner not initially intended by the manufacturer (e.g., set cradle
on phone, touch spoon to stick)

5. Functional-relational: Bringing together and integrating two objects in an appropriate
manner, that is, in a manner intended by the manufacturer (e.g., set cup on saucer, place
peg in hole of pegboard, mount spool on shaft of cart)

6. enactive naming: approximate pretense activity but without confirming evidence of
actual pretense behavior (e.g., touch cup to lip without making talking sounds, touch
brush to doll’s hair without making combing motions)

7. pretend self: pretense behavior directed toward self in which pretense is apparent
(e.g., raise cup to lip; tip cup, make drinking sounds, or tilt head; stroke own hair with
miniature brush; raise phone receiver to ear and vocalize)

8. pretend other: pretense behavior directed away from child toward other (e.g., feed doll
with spoon, bottle, or cup; brush doll’s hair; push car on floor and make car noise)

9. Substitution: Using a “meaningless” object in a creative or imaginative manner (e.g.,
drink from seashell; feed baby with stick as “bottle”) or using an object in a pretense
act in a way that differs from how it has previously been used by the child (e.g., use
hairbrush to brush teeth after already using it as a hairbrush on self or other)

10. Sequence pretend: repetition of a single pretense act with minor variation (e.g., drink
from bottle, give doll drink, pour into cup, pour into plate) or linking together different
pretense schemes (e.g., stir in cup, then drink; put doll in cradle, then kiss good night)

11. Sequence pretend substitution: Same as sequence pretend except using an object
substitution within sequence (e.g., put doll in cradle, cover with green felt piece as
“blanket”; feed self with spoon, then with stick)

12. Double substitution: pretense play in which two materials are transformed, within a
single act, into something they are not in reality (e.g., treat peg as doll and a piece of
green felt as a blanket and cover peg with felt and say “night-night”; treat stick as person
and seashell as cup and give stick a drink)

Source: J. Belsky & R. K. Most. (1981). From exploration to play: A cross-sectional study of infant free play behavior.
Developmental psychology, 17, 630–639.

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important tool for humans is language because “Language is thought;
language is culture; language is identity. . . . Denying language is denying
access to thought” (Wink & Putney, 2002, p. 54). In Vygotsky’s own words:

Thought is not merely expressed in words; it comes into existence through them.
Every thought tends to connect something with something else, to establish a
relationship between things. Every thought moves, grows and develops, fulfills
a function, solves a problem. (1934/1986, p. 218)

Speech is comprised of three distinct, yet interrelated, types: social, pri-
vate, and inner. Although the continuum of speech internalization (i.e., from
social to private to inner) is not clearly understood, it clearly represents “a
chain of structural and functional transformations between the already
evolved, the currently evolving, and the-about-to-evolve speech types”
(Damianova & Sullivan, 2011, p. 346). Vygotsky believed that, after social
language is developed, children develop private speech. The importance of
private speech is that children use this talk as a means of self-guidance and
direction (Vygotsky, 1934/1986), using words acquired during social speech
as symbolic representations of the concepts (Damianova & Sullivan, 2011).

Young children who use more private speech show more improvement
on difficult tasks (Berk & Spuhl, 1995; Winsler, Naglieri, & Manfra, 2006)
and were more creative (Daugherty & White, 2008) than children who
do not use much private speech. In addition, children use more private
speech as tasks become more difficult (Berk, 1994; Winsler, Abar, Feder,
Schunn, & Rubio, 2007), and when children with learning/behavioral
problems use private speech, they are more likely to complete the task
successfully (Winsler, Abar, et al., 2007; Winsler, Manfra, & Diaz, 2007).
Research with older children suggests that in some group problem-solving
situations, private speech may actually serve a social function (e.g., influ-
encing the thinking and behaviors of others), not just a cognitive function
for the child engaging in the private speech (Zahner & Moschkovich, 2010).

Vygotsky hypothesized that higher cognitive processes develop from
verbal and nonverbal social interactions. This is accomplished when more
mature individuals instruct less mature individuals within their zone of
proximal development (Wink & Putney, 2002). This term refers to a range
of tasks that a child is able to learn with the help of more knowledgeable
others (e.g., peers or adults). The zone of proximal development is estab-
lished by assessing the child’s individual level of performance and the
child’s assisted level of performance. The gap between these two levels is
considered the “zone” (Wink & Putney, 2002). As a child is able to accom-
plish skills at the assisted level independently, the zone shifts upward to
the next skill to be addressed. However, the process does not always move
in an upward direction. Tzur and Lambert (2011) found that children in
their study demonstrated a temporary regression in counting skills when
faced with different mathematical problems during one testing session;
sometimes they used the more advanced counting strategy, and sometimes
they used a less advanced strategy. The phenomenon was explained by the
authors when they stated that within the zone of proximal development,
one must consider the combined factors of task features, teacher-student
interactions, and how the task fits with the student’s present schemas
(Tzur & Lambert, 2011). While children adopt the language and actions of

private speech Vygotsky’s
term for internal dialogue that
children use for self-guidance
and understanding.

zone of proximal development
Vygotsky’s term for a range
of tasks that a child is
developmentally ready to learn.

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dialogues and demonstrations of the more knowledgeable other into their
private speech and then use those to guide and regulate their own actions,
it is not always a straightforward process. We will explore two other aspects
of this process in the next section: intersubjectivity and scaffolding.

Intersubjectivity refers to how children and adults come to understand
each other by adjusting their views and perspectives to fit the other person.
Adults must invest energy in figuring out how the child is approaching or
thinking about a particular task to be most effective in helping the child to
acquire a new skill or understanding. Scaffolding involves changing the
support given a learner in the course of teaching a skill or concept (Berk &
Winsler, 1995; Bodrova & Leong, 2007; Wink & Putney, 2002). The more
knowledgeable other can use a number of instructional strategies to scaf-
fold learning during a new, challenging, or complex task. Verbal encour-
agement; physical assistance; coaching; providing hints, clues, or cues;
asking questions; and breaking the task into manageable steps (without los-
ing the wholeness of the task) are all strategies to assist in accomplishing
the given task. As the learner starts mastering the new skills, the more
knowledgeable other withdraws instruction and encouragement in direct
response to the learner’s ability to perform successfully. Caregivers who
effectively learn to use intersubjectivity and scaffolding help promote
development because children learn to use positive
private speech and succeed more easily (Behrend,
Rosengran, & Perlmutter, 1992).

A final aspect of Vygotsky’s theory involves the
use of make-believe play in higher cognitive devel-
opment. Vygotsky believed that children who engage
in make-believe play use imagination to act out
internal ideas about how the world operates and to
set rules by which play is conducted, which helps
them learn to think before they act (Berk & Winsler,
1995) (Photo 2–5). Language, therefore, becomes crit-
ical for the development of organized make-believe
play because metacognitive self-control and self-
monitoring behaviors are largely developed through
language (Berk, Mann, & Ogan, 2006). The ability to
organize or plan make-believe play at advanced lev-
els appears to be dependent on a child’s ability to
use language for three distinct, yet interrelated, pur-
poses: (1) to reflect on past experiences, (2) to pre-
dict future experiences, and (3) to reason about the
relationships between past and future events
(Westby & Wilson, 2007). Researchers have found
that children with greater vocabularies are better
able to understand the intentional states (e.g., their
beliefs and desires) of other children (Jarrold,
Mansergh, & Whiting, 2010), which in turn has been
related to engaging in more developed pretend play
(Peterson & Wellman, 2009). In contrast, the play
of an infant or toddler who is abused would be
expected to be at a lower level because of the critical

intersubjectivity Vygotsky’s
term to explain how children
and adults come to understand
each other by adjusting
perceptions to fit the other
person’s map of the world.

scaffolding A term describing
incremental steps in learning
and development from simple
to complex.

make-believe play Vygotsky’s
term for using imagination to
act out internal concepts of
how the world functions and
how rules are formed.

Photo 2–5 Make-believe play can occur in
almost any learning area—inside and outside.

©
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role parents have in influencing play that supports social behaviors. In a
longitudinal study (children observed playing with the mother at 12- and
24-months of age) of low-income maltreated and nonmaltreated children,
only 51 percent of the children demonstrated complex, pretend play
(Valentino, Cicchetti, Toth, & Rogosch, 2011). That is significantly lower
than previous research on play behaviors of low-income children (see, e.g.,
Belsky & Most, 1981). Given the importance of pretend play to other areas of
development, this result might indicate that interventions to help abusive
mothers learn to scaffold their child’s pretend play are warranted.

2-3c Language Development
As is evident from the previous discussion, language plays a critical role in
cognitive development from a Vygotskian perspective. Language is a tool for
thinking (Bodrova & Leong, 2007; McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013). How do chil-
dren come to acquire language skills for thinking and communicating? The
easiest answer, of course, is through engaging in conversations with others.

When adults and children talk with infants and toddlers, they provide
examples of the four basic components of language: phonology, the basic
sounds of the language and how they are combined to make words;
semantics, what words mean; syntax, how to combine words into under-
standable phrases and sentences; and pragmatics, how to engage in com-
munication with others that is socially acceptable and effective (McDevitt &
Ormrod, 2013). These conversations must be responsive, however, because
responsiveness supports a growing understanding that language is a tool
that allows interests, ideas, needs, and desires to be shared socially
(Tamis-LeMonda, Kuchirko, & Song, 2014).

Yet, the easy answer is not always the best answer. Complex and some-
what controversial theories have been developed about language and word
acquisition. Booth and Waxman (2008) theorize that “as infants and young
children establish word meanings, they draw upon their linguistic, concep-
tual, and perceptual capacities and on the relations among these” (p. 189).
Language acquisition from this perspective is not merely the adding on of
new vocabulary words but involves the cognitive functions of organizing
words by grammatical function (e.g., noun) or conceptual dimensions (e.g.,
shape, size, real, or pretend). In their study, toddlers extended the use of
novel nouns systematically based on the conceptual information provided
to them in vignettes (Booth & Waxman, 2008). Tamis-LeMonda et al. (2014)
extend our understanding of the role responsive adults play in vocabulary
development when they theorized that being responsive assists infants in
mapping words to their referents.

Newman (2008), in contrast, suggests that language acquisition is
about learning what information to store for later retrieval. She suggests
that infants must store enough information so that new words can be dis-
tinguished from old words and that initially infants store too much infor-
mation. Infants may store, for example, information on what words were
spoken, who said them, and how they were spoken (e.g., tone).

To fully comprehend language, infants must learn to ignore perceptible
but irrelevant information such as tone of voice and to recognize words spo-
ken by a variety of talkers. Variability in the input helps infants recognize

phonology Understanding the
basic sounds of the language
and how they are combined to
make words.

semantics The study of
meaning in language, including
concepts.

syntax how words combine
into understandable phrases
and sentences.

pragmatics an understanding
of how to engage in
communication with others
that is socially acceptable and
effective.

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which acoustic properties are important and which can be ignored. When
an infant is familiar with a word spoken by only a particular talker, or in a
particular tone of voice, the word’s representation is tied to that talker/tone
of voice. However, if the infant hears the same word spoken by multiple talk-
ers, in multiple tones of voice, the child learns that these other factors are
irrelevant, and the representation becomes less tied to those details. Across a
range of language domains, when exposure is more varied, infants focus less
attention on the specific details of the input and instead begin to abstract
across exemplars, focusing on areas of commonality (Newman, 2008, p. 231).

Thus, from this perspective, providing infants with a language-rich
environment involves exposing infants to a number of different speakers so
that commonalities can be uncovered. As you can see, learning to commu-
nicate is a complex task that involves several different, yet related skills.

Infants must learn strategies for sending verbal and nonverbal messages
to others. Newborns initiate interaction by making eye contact, and by
4 months of age, they gaze in the same direction as the caregiver (Tomasello,
1999). Around the same time, they also begin to engage in verbal communi-
cation when they coo (or make repetitive vowel sounds). Babies are able to
screen out many sounds that are not useful in understanding their native
language by the age of 6 months (Polka & Werker, 1994). The way adults
speak with infants influences language acquisition. For example, Singh,
Nestor, Parikh, and Yull (2009) found that, as early as 7 months, infants
demonstrated greater word recognition when a new word was introduced
by an adult who spoke using infant-directed speech (sometimes called
motherese). The characteristics of infant-directed speech, exaggerated into-
nation, reduced speech rate, and shorter utterance duration, seem to match
how infants learn language. Furthermore, the use of infant-directed speech
in one-on-one parent-child interactions at 11 months and 14 months was
positively correlated with both concurrent speech utterances and word pro-
duction at 24 months (Ramírez-Esparza, García-Sierra, & Kuhl, 2014). In a
series of experiments, infants who heard infant-directed speech that was
comprised of higher pitch, greater pitch variation, and longer durations
acquired word labels and meanings more readily than when those words
were presented using adult-directed speech (Estes & Hurley, 2013). These
findings suggest that infants begin to discriminate, associate, and analyze
the structure of words and sentences before 9 months of age. These skills are
vital to acquiring productive language skills within their native language.

Around 6 or 7 months of age, infants begin to babble (or produce
speech-like syllables such as ba, ra) using sounds from their native lan-
guage. The first “real” word is typically spoken around the first birthday.
For a while, toddlers will blend babble with a real word in what is called
jargon. To illustrate, an infant says “tatata car bebe” while playing. The
teacher might respond with elaboration by saying “You moved the car. You
pushed it. It went bye-bye.” In this case, the adult supplies words that help
to explain what the child is experiencing, thus encouraging the acquisition
of other new words and facilitating the linking of two or three “real” words
into sentences or telegraphic speech. Just as a telegraphic message omits
words, telegraphic speech includes only the words vital to the meaning the
toddler is trying to convey. By 36 months, most toddlers are able to clearly
and effectively communicate their wants, needs, and ideas.

coo a vocalization typically
produced by infants from birth
to 4 months old that resembles
vowel-like sounds.

infant-directed speech
exaggerated intonation,
reduced speech rate, and
shorter utterance duration
used when speaking to infants.
in the past, other terms used
to describe the same speech
patterns were child-directed
speech, motherese, or
parentese.

babble prelanguage speech
with which the baby explores
the variety of sounds.

jargon Language term that
refers to the mixing of one real
word with strings of babble.

telegraphic speech When
infants and toddlers combine
two or three words into a
sentence including only key
words (e.g., “go daddy”).

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Adults use a combination of gestures and words when communicat-
ing with infants. Research suggests that this is important to how children
learn language (labels, categories), create meaning (symbolic understand-
ing), and understand references. In an experimental study, Graham and
Kilbreath (2007) found that infants possess a more generalized symbolic
system at 14 months than at 22 months. Early in development, infants
use both words and gestures to delineate object categories and guide their
inductive inferences. At 22 months, they relied on just words. In another
study, infants (13 months) were shown a video of an actress pointing to a
location of a hidden object and naming it. When the object was revealed,
the infants looked longer when the object was found in a location not indi-
cated by the gesture (Gliga & Csibra, 2009). This indicates that very young
infants expect that concurrently occurring words and gestures communi-
cate the same message in reference to an object.

Just as adults do with them, infants use gestural communication to
show what they want. Early on, infants combine behaviors from multiple
modalities (language, gesture, and affect) to deliver a communicative mes-
sage at levels greater than expected by chance (Parladé & Iverson, 2011).
Using parental diaries, Carpendale and Carpendale (2010) concluded that
the pointing gesture evolves from private fingertip exploration that parents
responded to. Babies touch objects, the caregiver notices and gives atten-
tion, and they further direct the caregiver to do something by pointing or
gesturing. The pointing behavior was transformed from one of personal
exploration to social meaning between the adult and child. Gestures have
also been found to change as the child develops and gains more language.
For example, when experiencing a language explosion (rapid increase in
number of words in vocabulary), the communicative system of language,
gesture, and affect was disrupted (Parladé & Iverson, 2011), and the num-

ber of coordinated words decreased.
Others have found that as children’s
brains develop, they process words and
gestures differently. For example, at 18
months, evidence shows that infants
attend to both gestures and words
when noticing a mismatch in informa-
tion, whereas at 26 months, they attend
to just the words (Sheehan, Namy,  &
Mills, 2007). In addition, as a child’s
vocabulary increases and becomes
more descriptive, the use of gestures
tends to lessen. Taken together, these
results suggest that children go through
recognizable periods of communicative
reorganization during the first three
years of life.

While an adult must learn to under-
stand the infant’s gestures, the infant
must learn to understand the adult’s
(Photo 2–6). This task might be more

PhOTO 2–6 Adults need to learn to understand the gestures of
infants, just as infants need to understand an adult’s gestures.

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challenging as the infant must understand what object her attention is
being directed toward (e.g., referential intention) as well as why her atten-
tion is being directed there (e.g., social intention). Liebel, Behne, Carpen-
ter, and Tomasello (2009) found that as early as 14 months of age, infants
responded more to gestures that reflected a shared experience with the
adult. In other words, the infants used the shared experience to identify
referents and to infer the social intention, “thus showing a very flexible use
of shared experience to interpret others’ communicative acts” (p. 270).

Gestures and signs are not only important for children to communicate
their desires, but they also help adults rethink young children’s capabil-
ities; by “listening” to their gestures, adults gain insight into individual
infants’ capabilities and respect for the capacities of preverbal children
(Vallotton, 2011) as well as become more responsive to their nonverbal
cues (Kirk, Howlett, Pine, & Fletcher, 2013). When adults take the chil-
dren’s preverbal vocalizations, gestures, and words seriously, as important
forms of communication, they might be enhancing important aspects of
children’s language development.

Engaging in conversations about events as they happen supports and
facilitates language development. Yet, that has been found to not be enough.
As mentioned previously, infant-directed speech promotes language devel-
opment because it captures and sustains the baby’s focal attention when
the adult adjusts her tone, volume, and speech patterns. In addition, care-
givers should label and describe things to which the baby visually attends.
Dominey and Dodane (2004) theorized that when adults use both infant-
directed speech and joint attention (i.e., attend to what the child is looking
at), infants are better able to use general learning mechanisms to acquire
knowledge of grammatical constructions. To illustrate, when a caregiver
copies or mimics the baby’s vocalization, the child can attend to the sounds
that the caregiver makes as well as engage in turn-taking: the baby vocal-
izes, the caregiver vocalizes in return and waits for a response, and the
“conversation” continues. Games such as patty cake help babies interact
actively and even initiate turn-taking interactions.

These interactions are indicative of the relationships between the care-
giver and a specific infant. Infant-directed speech has been found to be dif-
ferent depending on whether the adult is speaking with a boy or a girl, yet
those differences do not seem to appear in children’s productions before
the age of 3 (Foulkes, Docherty, & Watt, 2005). If one person within the
relationship is not functioning optimally, the relationship and the develop-
mental outcomes for the children can be drastically altered. For example,
caregivers who interrupt or restrict the baby’s focal attention and activi-
ties impede language development (Carpenter, Nagell, & Tomasello, 1998).
In another example, babies who cry for long periods of time or who are
frequently distressed may elicit fewer positive vocal interactions from the
parent or caregiver, thus impeding the typical pattern of language devel-
opment (Locke, 2006). The language relationship does not stay static over
time but rather responds to the growing capabilities of the infant. Almost
as soon as the baby starts to use “real” words, caregiver speech changes
to more information, directions, and questions rather than infant-directed
speech (Murray, Johnson, & Peters, 1990).

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Baby signing is a technique that has been studied in relationship to
preparing youngsters to conquer the challenges of communication and is
considered by many to be a method that enhances learning. A follow-up
study of children who learned Baby Sign demonstrated that those children
outperformed their nonbaby signing peers by a very impressive margin on
the WISC III, a universal test to measure language (Acredolo, Goodwyn, &
Abrams, 2009). Yet, a more recent study calls into question the benefit of
baby signing on language outcomes. Kirk et al. (2013) did not find any sig-
nificant differences in five measures of receptive and productive language
when a parent used gestures or gestures in combination with verbal com-
munication. Interestingly, although the infants did acquire and use the ges-
tures associated with the targeted words before the onset of speech, “this
did not promote the acquisition of those target words, nor did it boost the
infants’ language abilities” (Kirk et al., 2013, p. 580). Thus, for this sample
of very young children, encouraging the use of gestures did not result in
higher scores on any of the measures of language.

As you now understand, learning to receive and produce verbal and
nonverbal communication is a very complex process on which theorists
and researchers do not always agree. It is beyond the scope of this text
to fully investigate all aspects of language development. It must suffice
to say that young children quickly learn the rules of speech governing
their native language, and most are proficient language users by around 6
years of age. Teachers and parents enhance children’s language develop-
ment by labeling, describing, mirroring, and actively engaging the child in
conversations.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. Discuss Piaget’s stages of cognitive development in terms of learning experi-
ences for 2-year-olds. Include concepts such as assimilation, accommodation,
and disequilibrium in your answer.

2. Provide a specific example of each of Piaget’s types of knowledge.
3. Use Vygotsky’s theory to explain how you would scaffold a toddler with the

skill of dressing, including the concept of private speech.
4. Explain the typical pattern of language development and the role adults play

in the process.

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

2-1 Discuss the differences between development
and learning.
Development and learning are not synonymous
terms. They have precise definitions that need to
be understood and applied to your observations
of very young children.

2-2 Investigate typical patterns of physical
development between birth and thirty-six months
of age.
Typical patterns of physical development were
investigated for children birth to age 3. Emphasis
was placed on understanding brain development,

Summary

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patterns of physical growth, the impact of hearing
and vision, and milestones for motor development.

2-3 Deconstruct typical patterns of cognitive/
language development between birth and thirty-six
months of age.
This chapter explored how very young children
develop cognitively, using two theorists: Jean

Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. Although these theo-
rists have some aspects in common, they do dif-
fer on important points. Language development
was investigated in terms of milestones for ver-
bal and nonverbal communication. Additionally,
the value of teaching Baby Signs was considered
based on current research.

Family Stress Impacts
Development
Amanda Hasha is a 9-month-old girl who has been in
child care for the past three months. Lately, Sheila,
her primary caregiver, notices that Amanda is not
gaining weight, looks tired but does not sleep well,
and cries often. Sheila meets with the director and
the other caregivers in her classroom to share her con-
cerns and listens as they all confirm her observations
and suggest a family conference. Sheila then sets up
a conference with Mrs. Hasha to discuss Amanda’s
problems.

Sheila starts the conference by describing her obser-
vations. She informs Mrs. Hasha that the other caregiv-
ers have observed the same behaviors and tells her the
steps that have been taken to comfort Amanda. Sheila
then asks Mrs. Hasha what she sees at home and listens
to her.

Mrs. Hasha: “I’ve had a lot of problems lately that I’m
sure have affected Amanda. Her father had an accident
and is in the hospital, so I go to see him every chance
I can.”

Sheila: “My! It sounds like you have been under a lot
of stress and worry lately.”

Mrs. Hasha: “I just don’t know what to do. No one else
is around to help, so I sometimes have Amanda’s sister
watch her even though she’s only eight.”

Sheila: “So, you’ve had no help except for your older
daughter. It sounds overwhelming.”

Mrs. Hasha: “Yes, it certainly is! I wish I knew how to
get the kids cared for so I could be at the hospital more
often.”

Sheila: “It sounds like you really need help with the
children so you can help your husband more.”

Mrs. Hasha: “That’s right. Do you have any idea who
might help me?”

Sheila: “I know there are many sources for help in the
community. Have you thought to ask at the hospital,
your church, or here at school?”

Mrs. Hasha: “That’s a very good idea. Our church has
a volunteer program, but I don’t want to impose on our
minister. She is very busy.”

Sheila: “I’m sure your minister would help, if you
just talk with her. Would you like me to ask around at
some of the programs the county offers? I’m sure help
is available for this kind of situation.”

Mrs. Hasha: “Yes. Thank you so much. I will ask at
church also. I know that Amanda will be better if she
has an adult to care for her when I can’t be there.”

Within a week, Mrs. Hasha has volunteers from her
church helping to care for the children. Amanda has
changed from being stressed to calm and happy. She
has begun to eat better at school, and minimal weight
gain has been noted. Through the use of a family con-
ference, Sheila was able to help Mrs. Hasha share her
problems and arrive at solutions to improve Amanda’s
health and development.

1. Discuss what “warning signs” Sheila noted in
Amanda’s behavior. Would you have wanted to act
on this information? Why or why not?

2. How did Sheila use her relationships (i.e., col-
leagues and child’s family) to support and enhance
her work with Amanda?

3. Imagine that Sheila said the following during her
conversation with Mrs. Hasha: “You leave Amanda
with your 8-year-old daughter. Do you know how
dangerous that is?” How might the outcome of the
conversation been affected? Why?

Amanda C a S e S t u D Y

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Additional Resources
Gallahue, D. Ozmun, J., & Goodway, J. (2012). Under-

standing motor development: Infants, children, ado-
lescents, adults (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill
Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages.

Justice, L. M., & Redle, E. E. (2014). Communication
sciences and disorders: A clinical evidence-based
approach (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
Prentice Hall.

Pica, R. (2014). Toddlers moving and learning:
A physical education curriculum. Minneapolis,
MN: Redleaf Press.

Stamm, J. (2008). Bright from the start: The simple,
science-backed way to nurture your child’s devel-
oping mind from birth to age 3 (reprint). New York:
Gotham.

Lesson Plan
title: Who’s Outside?
Child Observation:

Ceren (14 months) toddled over to the window and
began to hit his hand on it. The 3-year-old child in the
outside learning environment turned to look at him.
She ran over and put her nose on the window. Ceren
leaned back and then began to giggle.

Child’s Developmental Goal:

To develop receptive language skills.

To engage in turn-taking as part of a conversation.

Materials: None

Preparation: None

Learning Environment:

1. When you notice Ceren near the window, join him.
2. While looking out the window with him, discuss

what you notice outside by using descriptive lan-
guage. To illustrate, you could say:

“The preschool children are enjoying being out-
side today. They are running in the grass. I think

they might be playing chase. Sophia is laughing
while she runs.”

3. Invite the child to participate in a conversation by
asking prompts or open-ended questions such as:
a. I wonder why she is smiling so much.
b. What do you think she will do next?

4. Accept and elaborate on the toddler’s answers. For
example, if the child says “sing,” you might respond:

“She is swinging. That must be making her
happy. Do you want to swing when we go outside
later?”

Guidance Consideration:

If Ceren becomes excited and hits the window, redi-
rect him to tap the window gently. If he becomes too
excited or rough, give him a choice of two other learn-
ing experiences. For example, you can offer drawing
what he saw through the window or dancing with
scarves to music (e.g., two of his favorite experiences).

Variations:

Make up a story about what you are watching outside.
Invite the child to answer questions that could add
details to the story.

Professional Resource Download

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© 2017 Cengage Learning

C H A P T E R

Social and Emotional
Development

Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

3-1 Determine typical patterns of emotional
development between birth and thirty-six
months of age.

3-2 Sequence typical patterns of social
development between birth and thirty-six
months of age.

Standards Addressed
in This Chapter

NAEYC Standards
for Early Childhood Professional
Preparation

1 Promoting Child Development and Learning

Developmentally Appropriate
Practice Guidelines

2 Teaching to Enhance Development and
Learning

In addition, the NAEYC standards for develop-
mentally appropriate practice are divided into
six areas particularly important to infant/toddler
care. The following area is addressed in this
chapter: Policies.

3

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3-1 Patterns of Emotional Development
Unlike most other warm-blooded species, human infants are totally depen-
dent on the environment to supply their most basic needs. For independent
physical survival, children are born nine months too soon because they
require assistance for that amount of time before they can crawl and move
independently within the environment. Therefore, a caregiver needs to cre-
ate a safe and secure space for the physical and emotional survival of the
child. A child should be provided with conscious care; be kept warm, fed,
and exposed to optimal levels of stress; and should have his needs responded
to in a respectful manner. Very young children should be touched, kept close
to the chest, talked to, exposed to soft music, and rocked. Babies should
be provided with appropriate transportation to move from one place to
another safely.

High-quality child care centers create positive learning atmospheres
in which children feel secure in initiating responses to their environment
based on interest and curiosity. Children should not be judged because
they are learning socially acceptable emotional responses; this takes a great
deal of time—many, many years to accomplish. When the child’s emo-
tional needs are met, he experiences a world that invites his participation.

The most basic feelings on a physical level are pleasure and pain. It
was once thought that newborns experience only these two general feeling
states. However, anyone who has cared for young infants extensively under-
stands that they experience and express the full range of human emotion
from ecstasy to deep sorrow. Through active experience with their envi-
ronment, babies quickly learn to repeat behaviors that result in pleasurable
experiences and avoid, as much as they can, those that result in pain. Yet,
this desire to repeat or avoid outcomes goes far beyond a behavior-response
pattern; it reflects how the brain is being wired (see Chapter 2). Repeated
experiences as well as emotional deprivation early in life rewire the brain.

It is impossible to protect infants and toddlers from experiencing phys-
ical and emotional pain, no matter how sensitive and caring we are. Pain
is a natural and normal life experience and is extremely valuable for our
ability to stay alive and learn from experience. Just as athletes understand
the saying “No pain: no gain” because muscles don’t grow stronger unless
they are taxed, most changes that produce growth cause some pain along
with pleasure. Adults should help children learn to cope during moments
of pain. Caregivers who try to protect children from all pain and keep them
in a state of pleasure establish unrealistic expectations for themselves and
the children in their care.

However, it should be noted that infants and toddlers are especially
vulnerable to painful experiences because of their lack of defenses. When
young children cannot escape a situation of persistent emotional pain,
such as consistent abandonment, rejection, or adult anger, or a situation of
chronic physical pain, such as physical or sexual abuse, healthy emotional
development is jeopardized. Under these conditions, children learn their
own feelings or the feelings of others are not important, leading to a lack of
self-awareness and insensitivity to others.

It may seem that infants are selfish because they attend only to their
own needs, but that is not possible because infants are limited in their

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ability to understand the impact of their behaviors on others. For example,
when a 3-month old baby wakes up hungry in the middle of the night, she
does not have the awareness that her hunger is an inconvenience to her
sleeping caregiver. However, when the child’s basic needs are filled, she
is able to be curious, sensitive, and aware of other people. From this basic
level, children progress to balancing their own feelings and needs with the
feelings and needs of other people and become capable of intimate rela-
tionships with equal give and take.

It sometimes appears that young children move through emotions
rapidly. One minute a young toddler may scream, and the next moment
jump into your arms and give you a hug. As cognitive and language skills
develop with age, the child can use words better to specify and describe
many different feeling states. By the age of 5 or 6, children who have expe-
rienced quality caregiving are capable of sophisticated, conscious discrimi-
nation of self from others in terms of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

During the first three years of life, the combination of traits present at
birth, including physical size, health, and temperament, interact with plea-
surable and painful experiences in the environment to form the growing
child’s identity (e.g., the child’s perceptions of self, others, and the world).
The next sections describe theories of identity development as they pertain
to infants and toddlers. The theories discussed here show how children
create models of the world through a complex process whereby the char-
acteristics they bring with them impact and are shaped through interac-
tions with adults and other children. These models of the world become
the basis for the enduring reactions and patterns people have throughout
life—what we call personality.

3-1a Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory
Erikson’s lifespan theory (1950) adds to our understanding of how chil-
dren develop emotionally by responding to life’s challenges. He labeled
his theory psychosocial because the various challenges refer to simulta-
neous concerns about oneself (psycho-) and relationships with other peo-
ple (-social) (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013). He believed that children must
resolve eight crises or stages as they progress from infancy through old
age. Each crisis is seen as a turning point where development can move
forward successfully or take a turn in a more negative direction. Although
he believed that the resolution of prior stages impacts the outcomes of
future stages, he also thought that people could revisit crises that were
unresolved (or resolved toward a negative outcome) during later develop-
ment. Of the eight stages, the first three are extremely important in the
development of infants and toddlers.

1. Basic trust versus mistrust. Children learn to trust or mistrust them-
selves and the world during infancy depending on the warmth and sensi-
tivity they are given. Trust is developed through consistent, responsive, and
appropriate behavior from the caregiver. In those situations, infants learn
that their needs are important and that they can trust others will respond
to their signals with helpful solutions. When infants are required to wait
too long for comfort, when they are handled harshly and insensitively, or
when they are responded to in an inconsistent manner, they develop basic

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mistrust of themselves and others. While the responsibility for appropriate
response rests solely on the shoulders of the adult, the child also plays
an active part in the interaction. When infants are difficult to soothe, it is
discouraging, and frustration levels rise. Hence, even if the adult starts out
calm and responsive, when the issue is not easily resolved, negative emo-
tions may become part of the interaction.

2. Autonomy versus shame and doubt. After infants become mobile,
a process of separation and individuation begins, eventually resulting
in autonomy. Children need to choose and decide things for themselves.
When caregivers permit reasonable free choices and do not force or shame
children, autonomy and self-confidence are fostered. If caregivers place
too many limits on behavior or constantly restrict choices, children learn
dependency and lack confidence in their ability to make decisions. Thus,
parents and teachers must balance support and encouragement with pro-
tection and guidance (Graves & Larkin, 2006).

3. Initiative versus guilt. When caregivers support a child’s sense of
purpose and direction, initiative in the form of ambition and responsibility
is developed. When caregivers demand too much self-control or responsi-
bilities that are not age appropriate, children respond by feeling overcon-
trolled, guilty, or both.

Erikson’s stages reveal how children develop the qualities that result
in a happy, meaningful life. As the first stage suggests, developing a sense
of trust during the first year of life can result in positive, lasting personal
assets that impact the resolutions of future stages. As caregivers, the impact
of our day-in and day-out responses to children’s basic needs cannot be
overestimated. Moreover, recent research suggests that infants as young as
12 months demonstrate trust for an adult when the adult behaves as an
expert (Stenberg, 2013). For example, when the expert adult used appro-
priate language to describe the toy (e.g., color, shape) and successfully
used the toy, the infant looked more at the expert and played with the toy
more (as compared to the nonexpert). The author concluded that “In terms
of social referencing, these findings can be interpreted as infants showing
more interest in seeking information from a reliable information source
and more motivated to use information from a reliable source than from
a less reliable source” (pp. 898–899). Thus, when trust is established with
an infant (in this case based on expertise), the very young child uses that
person as a source of information or as a model for behavior.

Developing Trust
Trust and security develop largely from adults’ own trustworthy behav-
ior. Consistently responding to the child’s cues or behaviors within an
atmosphere of acceptance and appreciation is important to building trust.
Some ways to ensure consistent and appropriate caregiver behavior with
children include establishing consistent routines and supplying generous
amounts of the three As of child care: Attention, Approval, and Attune-
ment (see Chapter 4). Consistently responding to the needs of the child
with warmth and respect will help her to develop security and trust.
Reading the infant’s or toddler’s cues and being able to look at things
from her perspective are necessary components in responsive caregiving

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(Oppenheim & Koren-Karie, 2002). Responsive
caregivers also provided sensitive guidance when
discussing potentially emotionally distressing
topics with children (Koren-Karie, Oppenheim,
Yuval-Adler, & Mor, 2013). When child care pol-
icies that ensure a low infant-caregiver ratio are
in place, early childhood educators are available
to respond to the many emotional needs of each
child (Photo 3–1).

Developing Autonomy
As mentioned previously, toddlers struggle with
balancing autonomy with shame and doubt. Sak-
agami (2010) believes that defiance and compli-
ance are both examples of autonomy, albeit in
very different forms. When adults impose too
much control, toddlers experience anger, resist
being controlled, and can be viewed by adults as
defiant. Thus, “defiant” behavior is a demonstra-
tion of autonomy. Toddlers also express auton-
omy when they eagerly commit to and comply
with the parents’ or adults’ agenda.

Supporting Initiative
Thus, Sakagami (2010) concurs with Erikson’s sug-
gestion that children need reasonable freedom and
expectations as they journey through toddlerhood
to minimize defiance and maximize compliance. To provide such freedoms
and expectations, you need to know (1) normal patterns of development, and
(2) each child’s individual pattern of development. Because the sequence
of development is similar among children, you have some guidelines for
your expectations. A caregiver needs to know where each child fits within
the range of development. If you expect children to accomplish things that
are below or above them developmentally, you produce undue stress. For
example, you can expect 30-month-old Mark to want to feed himself lunch
because he possesses the skills to hold a spoon in his hand, fill it with food,
and usually get it up to his mouth. It is unreasonable to expect 9-month-old
Naomi to have that level of muscular coordination or the desire to show
such initiative. The Developmental Milestones in Appendix A can assist
you in recording observations, evaluating developmental levels, and using
that information to make informed decisions when interacting with very
young children. Understanding developmental milestones helps to estab-
lish security and trust because the children engage in experiences that are
met with success, mastery, and the three As rather than stress, frustration,
and rejection.

3-1b Separate and Together
Two competing theories attempt to explain the process by which infants
develop a sense of self. The theories use many of the same ideas but

Photo 3–1 Children need help from adults when
learning to regulate their emotions.

©
2

01
7

Ce
ng

ag
e

Le
ar

ni
ng

53chapter 3 Social and emotional Development

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

examine the process from opposite directions. A pediatrician from Vienna
named Margaret Mahler wrote extensively about the importance of bonding
between parent and child and the process is called separation-individuation
(Greenberg & Mitchell, 1983). Mahler argued that children begin life believ-
ing that they are fused or physically a part of their mother. Over the course
of the first few months and years, they must separate to become an individ-
ual person. Between birth and 4 months of age, infants slowly come to
show increased sensitivity to the external world and develop a beginning
awareness that their primary caregiver is an external object. Mahler’s four
subphases of separation-individuation begin around 4 months of age and
are as follows:

Subphase Age
1. differentiation 4 months to 10 months
2. practicing 10 months to 15 months
3. rapprochement 15 months to 36 months
4. libidinal object constancy 36 months throughout childhood

Differentiation
From 4 to 10 months of age, the differentiation subphase occurs, in which
the baby begins to act in more self-determined ways and explores the
caregiver (e.g., pulls hair, clothes). The baby also scans the world and
checks back to the caregiver to discriminate “caregiver” from “other.”
The baby develops skill in discriminating external from internal sen-
sations as well. This discrimination forms the basis for self-awareness
(self-concept).

Practicing
After the baby becomes mobile, the practicing subphase begins. Because
the baby can now move away from the caregiver, increased body discrimi-
nation and awareness of separateness from others are manifested. The
child begins using the caregiver as an emotional and physical “refueling
station”—moving short distances away and then returning for emotional
nourishment. The child also concentrates on her own abilities separate
from the caregiver and becomes omnipotent (not aware of any physical
limitations). According to Mahler, Pine, and Bergman (1975), the caregiver
must allow physical and psychological separation during this phase if the
child is to establish a strong identity.

Rapproachement
Between 15 and 18 months, the toddler enters the rapprochement sub-
phase, where the sense of omnipotence (having no limits) is broken. What is
wanted is not always immediately available, so the child experiences frus-
tration, separation anxiety, and the realization that caregivers are separate
people who don’t always say “yes.” Often, children will alternate between
clinging neediness and intense battling with caregivers because of con-
flicting dependence and independence needs. Because of rapid language
development during this period, the child struggles with gender identity,
accepting “no,” and the development of beliefs, attitudes, and values to add
to the already formed self-concept.

separation-individuation
the process of defining self as
separate from others, which
starts in infancy and continues
throughout childhood.

omnipotent the sense of
being unaware of any physical
limitations and feeling above
physical laws.

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Libidinal Object Constancy
Mahler’s final subphase of libidinal object constancy starts around
36 months and involves developing a stable concept of the self (one that
does not change) and a stable concept of other people, places, and things.
Self-constancy and object constancy are required so that the toddler devel-
ops a coherent sense of self (e.g., identity). During this phase, it is crucial
that the caregiver act as a buffer between the child and the world while
supporting and respecting the competencies of the growing child to sepa-
rate and individuate without anxiety or fear.

Stern’s Theory
Daniel Stern, while using the same concepts of bonding and separation,
theorized that the process worked in the opposite direction of Mahler.
Stern reasoned that infants are born alone and must learn to be with oth-
ers (Galinsky, 2010). Using videos of infant-parent interactions, Stern
analyzed frame by frame how the adult and child responded to each
other. He discovered that infants were in synchrony with their mothers,
mirroring her actions (Stern, 1985). For example, when the mother lifted
her arm, the infant lifted her arm. The infants’ actions must take place
in a temporal space that is minute given the child’s memory capacities
(Stern, 2000). In other words, they have limited capabilities to take in
the visual information, store it, process it, and create a deliberate reac-
tion. These results raise the question: How can infants be responsive in
this manner, if they believe they are fused or a part of the mother? Stern
(2008) believes that infants must be born with the “capacity for intersub-
jectivity in some primary fashion” (p. 181), or the ability “to participate
in and, in some way, sense or know about the other person’s experience”
(p. 182). Intersubjectivity is present but not fully formed at birth and then
develops further over time. Research (reviewed in Stern 2008) suggests
that infants quickly learn to read the intentions of others, not just their
behavior. The challenge for infants, from this perspective, is not separa-
tion from important adults but finding ways to join their intentions with
these adults.

The three theoretical perspectives of Piaget, Mahler, and Stern demon-
strate, albeit in different ways, the importance of adults in the formation of
identity and personality during the first three years of life. Because of the
significance of individual child characteristics in all of these theories, the
discussion will now turn to three other factors integral to emotional devel-
opment: temperament, emotional intelligence, and self-esteem.

3-1c Temperament
Temperament has been defined as “the basic style which characterizes a
person’s behavior” (Chess, Thomas, & Birch, 1976). All children are born
with particular temperaments. Temperament will influence what they do,
what they learn, what they feel about themselves and others, and what
kinds of interactions they have with people and objects.

Early research suggested that temperament is stable and not very
changeable by environmental influences (Caspi  &  Silva, 1995). More
recent research supports the position of continuity in temperament from

temperament Physical,
emotional, and social
personality traits and
characteristics.

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infancy to toddlerhood to 3 (Losonczy-Marchall, 2014) or 4 (Carranza,
González-Salinas, & Ato, 2013) years of age. However, a larger body of
research provides evidence that child-rearing practices and other environ-
mental factors can dramatically influence temperament during the first
three years (Gunnar, 1998; Worobey & Islas-Lopez, 2009). More specifically,
Jansen and colleagues found that infants in lower-income families were
more likely to have been rated as having a difficult temperament and that
the association was partially explained by level of family stress and mater-
nal psychological well-being (Jansen, Raat, Mackenbach, Jaddoe, Hofman,
Verhulst, et al., 2009). This raises the question of whether child tempera-
ment is a cause or a consequence of particular contextual impacts because
other research discovered that as aspects of infant temperament become
more negative, parenting becomes more negative (Bridgett, Gartstein,
Putnam, McKay, Iddins, Robertson, et al., 2009; Davis, Schoppe-Sullivan,
Mangelsdorf, & Brown, 2009) or mothers reported higher levels of parent-
ing stress (Oddi, Murdock, Vadnais, Bridgett, & Gartstein, 2013; Siqveland,
Olafsen, & Moe, 2013). These results suggest that infants play a signifi-
cant role in shaping their own development and the context in which that
development is occurring.

Chess et al. (1976) worked with hundreds of children and their parents
to investigate how babies differ in their styles of behavior. The analysis
of observations and interviews revealed nine patterns of behavior. Within
each pattern, they found a range of behaviors. Table 3–1 lists the nine

TABLE 3–1 ◗ Behavioral Categories of Temperament

Behavioral
Category

extremes

more less

(1) activity Level hyperactive—can’t sit still Lethargic—sedate, passive

(2) regularity rigid and inflexible patterns Unpredictable and inconsistent
patterns

(3) response to New
Situations

Outgoing, aggressive,
approaching

Withdrawing, timid, highly
cautious

(4) adaptability Likes surprises, fights routine,
dislikes structure

Dislikes change, likes routine,
needs structure

(5) Sensory threshold Unaware of changes in light,
sound, smell

highly sensitive to changes in
light, sound, smell

(6) Positive or
Negative Mood

Feels optimistic Feels negative; denies positive

(7) response Intensity highly loud and animated,
high energy

Very quiet and soft; low energy

(8) Distractibility Insensitive to visual and
auditory stimuli outside self

Unable to focus attention,
highly sensitive to visual and
auditory stimuli

(9) Persistence Persists until task completed Gives up easily, doesn’t try
new things

©
C

en
ga

ge
L

ea
rn

in
g

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categories and extremes of behaviors observed in each category. The behav-
ior of most infants falls somewhere between these extremes. Chess and her
colleagues further collapsed the nine patterns into three basic types of tem-
perament: flexible and easy, slow to warm up, and difficult.

More recent research suggests that it is helpful to consider how chil-
dren react to new experiences, rather than attempt to classify them into
patterns based on a variety of different behaviors. Some children react
to novel or unfamiliar situations by expressing delight or excitement, or
they easily engage in interactions with the object or person (i.e., exuber-
ance); other children react to the same situations by being hypervigilant
and using motor reactivity, crying, and other means to express negative
affect (i.e., behavioral inhibition) (Fox, Henderson, Rubin, Calkins, &
Schmidt, 2001; Hane, Fox, Henderson, & Marshall, 2008). Kagan and
his colleagues discovered that crying at 4 months, not motor reactiv-
ity, was associated with behavioral inhibition during the second year
of life (Moehler, Kagan, Oelkers-Ax, Brunner, Poustka, Haffner, et al.,
2008). That result caused the researchers to wonder about the role motor
reactivity plays early in development; this is important because behav-
ioral inhibition has been associated with both short-term and long-term
social adjustment issues. Preschoolers and adolescents who were higher
on behavioral inhibition in infancy or toddlerhood were more socially
withdrawn (Pérez-Edgar, Bar-Haim, McDermott, Chronis-Tuscano,
Pine, & Fox, 2010; Pérez-Edgar, Reeb-Sutherland, McDermott, White,
Henderson, Degnan, et  al., 2011; Pérez-Edgar, Schmidt, Henderson,
Schulkin, & Fox, 2008).

The following descriptions illustrate how you might notice temper-
ament (exuberance or behavioral inhibition) in response to classroom
situations.

Jamol hides behind his mother as he enters the room each morning. He hides
behind the caregiver whenever someone strange walks in the door. When oth-
ers play with a new ball, he stands by the wall and watches. He leaves food he
does not recognize on his plate, refusing to take a bite. Jamol needs time to get
used to new situations. Jamol becomes distressed when he is pushed into new
activities. Telling him that a new ball will not hurt him or that the strange food
is good for him does not convince him. When he feels comfortable, he will play
with the new ball. He needs time and space for himself while he becomes famil-
iar with a situation. It may take several offerings before he eventually tries the
new food.

Paulo arrives in the morning with a big smile. She looks around the room and
notices a new puzzle set out on the table. She rushes over to it, asking the caregiver
about it and giggling at the picture. She takes the puzzle pieces out, puts some of
the pieces back in, and then seeks assistance from the caregiver. Paulo is excited
about new situations and eager to try new experiences.

Goodness-of-Fit Model
Thomas and Chess (1977) suggest that the type of temperament a child has is
less important to her overall functioning than the temperamental match she
has with her caregiver. The adult-child goodness-of-fit model has been sup-
ported by research with families (Karreman, de Haas, van Tuijl, van Aken, &

goodness-of-fit the
temperamental match between
very young children and their
caregivers.

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Deković, 2010; Schoppe-Sullivan,
Mangelsdorf, Brown,  & Szewczyk
Sokolowski, 2007; Van Aken, Junger,
Verhoeven, Van Aken,  & Deković,
2007) and early childhood educators
(Churchill, 2003; De Schipper, Tavec-
chio, Van IJzendoorn,  & Van Zeijl,
2004; LaBilloisa  & Lagacé-Séguin,
2009; Rudasill, 2011).

Identifying each child’s tempera-
ment as well as your own will help
you better respond as an effective
caregiver (Photo 3–2). Franyo and
Hyson (1999) found that tempera-
ment workshops designed especially
for early childhood teachers resulted
in their gaining important knowl-
edge about temperament concepts.
However, there was no evidence
that these workshops effectively in –
creased the caregivers’ acceptance

of children’s behaviors and feelings.
Carefully reflecting about your own and the children’s temperament can
assist you with creating “goodness of fit” by identifying strategies to
responsively and respectfully meet the needs of the children who are dif-
ferent from yourself.

Consider the following example.

Olaf is playing with blocks. The tall stack he built falls over, one block hitting
hard on his hand. He yells loudly. Ray is playing nearby and also is hit by a falling
block. He looks up in surprise but does not say anything.

What will you as a caregiver do? What will you say? What is loud to
you? What is acceptable to you? Why is a behavior acceptable or not to
you? Do you think Ray is better than Olaf because he did not react loudly?
What you do and say to Olaf reflects your acceptance or rejection of him
as a person, reflects whether you are able to help him adapt to his environ-
ment, and reflects your ability to adapt to the child.

3-1d Emotional Intelligence and the Brain
Emotional competence is the demonstration of self-efficacy in emo-
tion-provoking social interactions. In other words, infants and toddlers
must learn to know, for example, not only when they need to regulate
their emotions but also how they need to be regulated in a given situation.
The application of emotional intelligence through the demonstration
of emotional competence is a lifelong task that begins early in life and
is influenced significantly by the development of particular regions of
the brain.

The limbic system, which cuts across and connects the three parts of
the brain discussed in Chapter 2, is responsible for emotional control,

limbic system the system
responsible for emotional
control, emotional responses,
hormonal secretions, mood,
motivation, and pain/pleasure
sensations.

PhOTO 3–2 This persistent baby may be thinking, “I can do it.
I know I can reach that toy!”

©
C

en
ga

ge
L

ea
rn

in
g

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

emotional responses, hormonal secretions, mood, motivation, and pain/
pleasure sensations (Figure 3–1). This system includes, but is not limited
to, the following parts of the brain: amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, and
hypothalamus. These structures help infants generate basic emotions (e.g.,
fear, joy, anger), produce bodily responses to emotions such as facial
expressions (e.g., frown) and physiological changes (e.g., increased heart
rate), and with positive environmental input, assist children in learning to
appropriately express and control their emotions.

The thalamus and amygdala play particularly important roles in emo-
tional regulation. When a threat is perceived, the thalamus sends sensory
signals to the cortex, which processes the information and, if necessary,
sends a message to the amygdala to respond. The amygdala then signals
the rest of the body to get ready for a response by releasing adrenaline
and other stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones increase heart
and breathing rates and cause the person experiencing the threat to have
more focused attention on “fight or flight.” The release of these hormones
results, then, in diverting the body away from functions unnecessary to
survival such as growth, reproduction, and defending against germs or dis-
ease (e.g., immune system decreases functioning). When a person is “emo-
tionally hijacked,” however, this pathway is disrupted, and the message
bypasses the cortex (“thinking” brain) and goes immediately to the amyg-
dala, which can produce an intense and sometimes irrational or destruc-
tive response.

FIGURE 3–1 ◗ Limbic System

Limbic system

Fr
om

B
A

N
IC

H
/C

O
M

PT
O

N
, C

og
ni

tiv
e

N
eu

ro
sc

ie
nc

e,
3

E.
©

2
01

1
Ce

ng
ag

e
Le

ar
ni

ng
.

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

Given the potential short- and long-term consequences to overall
growth, health, and development of being in a state of distress, research-
ers have studied extensively variables associated with cortisol levels. Vari-
ables such as maternal prenatal cortisol levels, behaviors of parents and/
or teachers, and indicators of quality out-of-home experiences have been
investigated.

Impact of Cortisol Levels
Higher levels of maternal prenatal cortisol levels were negatively associ-
ated with cognitive abilities of their infants during the second year of life
(Bergman, Sarkar, Glover, & O’Connor, 2010). In other words, higher levels
of maternal prenatal cortisol were associated with lower ratings of infant
cognitive abilities. This research further revealed that the relationship was
moderated by the type of relationship between the mother and child. Chil-
dren who displayed an insecure attachment to their mothers displayed
this negative association, while children with a secure attachment did not
(Bergman et al., 2010).

Other researchers have explored relationships between parenting
behaviors and cortisol levels. In one study, mothers with low levels of
cortisol engaged in more disruptive communications with their infant
(Crockett, Holmes, Granger, & Lyons-Ruth, 2013). In other words, the moth-
ers with low cortisol levels had difficulty interacting with their infants in
an empathic and nondisrupted way. In contrast, other researchers found
that mothers who were more emotionally available at bedtime had infants
who secreted lower levels of cortisol during the night than did mothers who
were less emotionally available (Philbrook, Hozella, Kim, Jian, Shimizu, &
Teti, 2014). Taken together, these results demonstrate that the quality of the
parent-child relationship can be impacted by the adults’ and the infants’
production of cortisol.

Bugental, Schwartz, and Lynch (2010) explored relationships between
cortisol levels, parenting behaviors, and memory skills for very young chil-
dren. They found that children’s cortisol levels were reduced when their
mother participated in an intervention that focused on “constructive rein-
terpretation of caregiving challenges, along with their perceived capacity
to resolve those challenges” (p. 161). However, when mothers engaged in
avoidance/withdraw behaviors in response to conflict with their infant, the
infant had elevated cortisol levels. The authors hypothesized that parental
failure to respond to infant distress may lead to problems in emotional reg-
ulation for the children. Short-term memory functioning at age 3 was asso-
ciated with cortisol levels when measured during the 1-year visit (Bugental
et al., 2010), providing further evidence of the possible long-term impact of
early experiences on later development.

Other research teams have investigated the impact of specific parenting
behaviors on cortisol levels. Beijers, Riksen-Walraven, and de Weerth (2013)
found that parents who co-sleep with their infant more (i.e., sleep with
infant in the same bed or in the same bedroom) had infants who had lower
cortisol reactivity in response to a stressful situation. In addition, infants
whose mother breastfed them longer had a quicker recovery from increases
in cortisol during the stressful situation.

60 Part 1 Understanding the Foundations of Professional Education

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The impact of other environments, especially out-of-home care, on
cortisol levels has been studied extensively. Studies have found that the
impact of child care differs for low-risk children and high-risk (including
low-income) children. More specifically, for middle-class children, there
was no significant change in children’s levels of cortisol from midmorning
to midafternoon when at home with their family, but they experienced a
significant increase in levels when in a family child care center (Gunnar,
Kryzer, Van Ryzin, & Phillips, 2010). In fact, for low-risk children, the more
hours spent in child care were predictive of higher cortisol levels (Berry,
Blair, Ursache, Willoughby, Garrett-Peters, Vernon-Feagans, et al., 2014).
For a sample of children who were living in poverty or had multiple risk
factors, their cortisol level decreased over the course of the morning at
child care (Rappolt-Schlichtmann, Willette, Ayoub, Lindsley, Hulette, &
Fischer, 2009) and with greater number of hours spent in a child care set-
ting (Berry et al., 2014).

What variables have been associated with a rise or decrease in corti-
sol levels in children when in a child care program? Measures of qual-
ity have been found to relate to children’s cortisol levels. For example,
Sajaniemi, Suhonen, Kontu, Rantanen, Lindholm, Hyttinen, et al. (2011)
found that scoring low on measures of quality indicators for classroom
arrangement and team planning was associated with elevated cortisol lev-
els as well as an increase in cortisol levels throughout the day. Regard-
ing teacher-child relationships, Lisonbee, Mize, Payne, and Granger
(2008) found that when teachers reported higher levels of conflict and
overdependence in their relationships with the children, the children
had higher cortisol levels. On the contrary, when children were in class-
rooms with teachers who provided more emotional support (Hatfield,
Hestenes, Kintner-Duffy, & O’Brien, 2013) or when children had a more
secure attachment relationship with their teacher (Badanes, Dmitrieva, &
Watamura, 2012), they had a greater decline in levels of cortisol from
morning to afternoon. Relatedly, when Rappolt-Schlichtmann et al. (2009)
investigated the impact of teaching in large groups versus smaller groups,
they found that children’s cortisol levels decreased when moved from a
large group environment to a small group context; children who expe-
rienced more conflict with their teachers (based on the teacher’s report)
experienced less decrease in cortisol during that change. Observations
of teacher behavior have resulted in similar findings. Teachers who were
rated as higher on intrusive/overcontrolling care were associated with
children experiencing a rise in cortisol levels from midmorning to mid –
afternoon (Gunnar et al., 2010).

As this research demonstrates, unresponsive, harmful, stressful, or ne-
glectful caregiving behaviors affect the development of the brain negatively.
Children who experience unresponsive and stressful conditions, either in
a home or in a child care setting, were found to have elevated cortisol lev-
els (see Gunnar & Cheatham, 2003, for a review). Monitoring cortisol levels
in children may help in creating interventions and preventing negative out-
comes associated with high levels of cortisol in adults, such as depression
and anxiety (Engert, Efanov, Dedovic, Dagher, & Pruessner, 2011), posttrau-
matic stress disorder (Lopez & Seng, 2014), heart disease (Seldenrijk, Hamer,

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

Lahiri, Penninx, & Steptoe, 2012), and lower waking (Roisman, Susman,
Barnett-Walker, Booth-LaForce, Owen, Belsky, et al., 2009) or higher waking
(Nelemans, Hale, Branje, Lier, Jansen, Platje, et al., 2014) cortisol levels in
adolescence.

Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman has provided a concise and comprehensive view of how
brain development links to the skills necessary for healthy social and emo-
tional development in his books titled Emotional Intelligence (1996) and
Social Intelligence (2006). In these books, Goleman reports that the usual
way of looking at intelligence as consisting only of cognitive abilities is
incomplete. Eighty percent of the skills necessary for success in life are
determined by what he calls emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1996).
Healthy emotional development involves helping young children recog-
nize their feelings, experience security and trust in others, and establish
healthy attachments as well as gaining specific skills and self-efficacy in
“emotion-eliciting social transactions” (Saarni, Campos, Camras, & Wither-
ington, 2006, p. 250). Goleman defined five domains that are learned early
in life and are necessary for high emotional intelligence and healthy iden-
tity development (Figure 3–2).

1. Knowing one’s emotions. Recognizing a feeling as it happens, or
self-awareness, is the keystone of emotional intelligence. The caregiver

emotional intelligence Skills
learned early in life that
are necessary for healthy
emotional development, good
relationships, and fulfillment in
life experiences.

self-awareness Sensory-
grounded information
regarding one’s existence; what
a person sees, hears, and feels
in the body related to self.

FIGURE 3–2 ◗ Five Domains of Emotional Intelligence

Knowing
one’s

emotions

Handling
relationships

Recognizing
emotions in

others

Motivating
oneself

Managing
emotions

Domains of
emotional

intelligence

©
2

01
4

Ce
ng

ag
e

Le
ar

ni
ng

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should start helping children at birth to recognize, experience, label, and
express their feelings in healthy ways. Research conducted on maternal
emotion-related socialization behaviors (such as reported emotional
expressivity, responses to her child’s emotions, and observed emotion
talk) found that such behaviors were predictive of children’s emotion
self-awareness skill one year later (Warren & Stifter, 2008). Specifically,
they found that mothers who engaged in more supportive emotion-related
socialization behaviors had preschoolers who had higher self-awareness
of happiness, whereas less-supportive maternal emotion-related socializa-
tion behaviors were predictive of low self-awareness of sadness (Warren &
Stifter, 2008).

Parents and early childhood educator can help young children develop
the cognitive skills for understanding their own thoughts, feelings, and
behaviors. Caregivers who describe what they are observing (e.g., “Your
face is red, you must be angry.”), give feedback about the emotion being
experienced (e.g., “It is scary to be alone in the climbing structure.”), and
ask questions about children’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (e.g., “Are
you feeling sad or embarrassed?”) help children develop cognition skills in
relationship to emotions. From a Vygotskian perspective, these strategies
may be particularly valuable during the toddler years when the young chil-
dren use their budding language skills as a mental tool to control their own
emotions and behaviors. Toddlers with greater breadth of spoken vocab-
ulary were found to be better able to use language to self-regulate their
behaviors (Vallotton & Ayoub, 2011).

2. Managing emotions. Handling feelings in a way that is appropriate
to the situation is a skill that builds on self-awareness. Skills in soothing
oneself and maintaining a balance among thoughts, feelings, and behavior
are necessary to manage emotions. Caregivers need to help children with
this process of self-regulation by providing a model of balance between
rational behavior and expression of emotions. Toddlers, while not being
expected to control their emotions all of the time, should be assisted in
gaining “effortful control.” According to Rueda, Posner, and Rothbart
(2005), effortful control refers to a set of self-regulatory skills that includes
attention modulation, response inhibition, persistence, and delay of grati-
fication. Toddlers who demonstrated high levels of effortful control were
lower in externalizing behaviors and higher in social competence
(Spinrad, Eisenberg, Gaertner, Popp, Smith, Kupfer, et al., 2007). Thus, it
appears that toddlers who can manage their emotions are better able to get
along with other age-mates. See the Spotlight on Effortful Control box for
more information.

As caregivers help infants regulate their emotions, they contribute to
the child’s style of emotional self-regulation. For example, a parent who
waits to intervene until an infant has become extremely agitated rein-
forces the baby’s rapid rise to intense stress (Thompson, 1988) and makes
it harder for the parent to soothe the baby in the future and for the baby
to learn self-soothing. Parents who expressed negative emotionality when
their toddler was completing a task were associated with toddlers who
were less attentive to the task (Gaertner, Spinrad, & Eisenberg, 2008). Thus,
adult negativity might actually decrease a child’s ability to attend when

self-regulation the skills
necessary to direct and control
one’s own behavior in socially
and culturally appropriate ways.

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What IS It aND Why IS IMPOrtaNt?

Effortful control is a newer concept in the child
development literature, receiving significant atten-
tion during the past five years. Because it is a newer
concept, understanding effortful control and factors
impacting its development have been of great inter-
est to researchers. Researchers have investigated the
stability of effortful control over the first three years
of life and have found it to be stable. For example,
measures of effortful control showed continuity from
infancy (12 months) to toddlerhood (24 months;
Li, Pawan, & Stansbury, 2014). Eisenberg, Edwards,
Spinrad, Sallquist, Eggum, and Reiser (2013) took a
different approach and wanted to know if effortful con-
trol, reactive undercontrol (impulsivity), and reactive
overcontrol (inhibition to novelty) were three distinct
constructs between 30 and 54 months of age. They
found that at 30 months, effortful control was separate
from reactive control (combination of impulsivity and
inhibition) while at 42 and 54 months, all three were
separate constructs. The authors concluded that this
pattern demonstrates how effortful control and reac-
tive control are two different aspects of temperament
that “become increasingly differentiated with age as a
function of brain development” (p. 2092).

Influences, such as parent and toddler characteris-
tics, on the development of effortful control have been
investigated. In one study, mothers who were higher
on measures of extraversion had toddlers who demon-
strated more effortful control, whereas mothers who
reported higher levels of parenting stress were associ-
ated with toddlers with less effortful control (Gartstein,
Bridgett, Young, Panksepp, & Power, 2013). For tod-
dlers with an “exuberant” (e.g., active) temperament,
a combination of parental behaviors and emotional
tone was associated with effortful control. Specifically,
mothers who used commands and prohibitive state-
ments with a positive emotional tone in interactions
with their toddlers predicted higher levels of effort-
ful control when their children were preschoolers
(Cipriano & Stifter, 2010).

Parental behaviors (e.g., support, sensitivity, and
warmth) have also been found to impact the develop-
ment of effortful control. In one study, the research-
ers wanted to know if skills in effortful control were
associated with maternal sensitivity and recovery
from a challenging task. They found that, as hypoth-
esized, maternal sensitivity during infancy predicted

better effortful control and, in turn, shorter periods of
time to generate positive emotions following a chal-
lenging task at 33 months (Conway, McDonough,
Mackenzie, Miller, Dayton, Rosenblum, et al., 2014).
Relatedly, infants’ effortful control at 12 months pre-
dicted mothers’ comforting and cognitive assistance
at 24 months (Li, Pawan, & Stansbury, 2014). In other
words, mothers who were more sensitive took into
account their prior knowledge of the children’s reg-
ulatory capacities; demonstrating how the infants’
characteristics impact mothers’ emotion coaching
behaviors. Eiden, Edwards, and Leonard (2007) inves-
tigated the role of parental warmth in alcoholic fam-
ilies. Mothers scoring lower on measures of warmth
when their toddler was 24 months was associated
with their children exhibiting less effortful control a
year later (i.e., 36 months).

Why have researchers put some much time and
energy into studying effortful control? As mentioned
previously, higher levels of effortful control have been
associated with exhibiting fewer externalizing behav-
iors and higher levels of social competence (Spinrad
et al., 2007). Thus, children who are higher in effortful
control are better able to engage in positive interactions
with peers. In addition, there is a strong emphasis on
school readiness skills in our society, and effortful con-
trol may play an important role. Specifically, the role of
particular cognitive and social-emotional skills, includ-
ing effortful control, to influence how young children
acquire preacademic skills is a newer line of inquiry.
Merz, Landry, Williams, Barnes, Eisenberg, Spinrad,
et al. (2014) investigated whether effortful control is a
developmental skill that could explain the association
between contextual factors and preacademic knowl-
edge for toddlers and preschoolers (e.g., 2- and 4-year-
old children). They found that levels of effortful control
did mediate the relationships among parental educa-
tion, home environment, and early academic skills
(e.g., early literacy and emergent math). For example,
children who experienced a higher quality home envi-
ronment had higher effortful control, and the level of
effortful control mediated the relationship between
home quality and early literacy skills (Merz et  al.,
2014). Because effortful control is a primary develop-
mental task of early childhood, and these skills develop
as a result of cumulative parent-child interactions in
the home, these results may be particularly important
to understand.

Spotlight on Effortful Control

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negative emotions are expressed. On the other hand, when caregivers vali-
date children’s wants and needs by supporting and helping the child fulfill
the need expressed by a feeling, children internalize a positive approach
to managing emotions, regulating negative behaviors, and interacting
with others (Gaertner et al., 2008; Spinrad et al., 2007). In contrast, when
fathers were high on both frightening (e.g., threatening physical and/or
verbal behavior) and insensitive parenting behaviors, their children were
rated higher in emotional underregulation at 24 months, compared to chil-
dren whose fathers were frightening and sensitive (Hazen, McFarland,
Jacobvitz, & Boyd-Soisson, 2010). These researchers concluded that fright-
ening behaviors by themselves might not be problematic because “fathers
who stay sensitive while keeping babies highly stimulated, on the fence
between fear and fun, may actually be scaffolding their children’s later
development of the ability to regulate intense emotions [and] cope with
overstimulation” (p. 64).

3. Motivating oneself. Channeling emotions in the service of a goal is
essential for paying attention, mastery, and creativity. A basic attitude of
optimism (the belief that success is possible) and self-responsibility under-
lie the skill of getting into the flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). Caregivers of
young children and infants can observe flow in infants and toddlers. For
example, when an infant becomes totally engrossed in exploring her hand
or the caregiver’s face, you can see that her cognition, perceptions, emo-
tions, and behaviors are all intensely focused and coordinated in her joyful
exploration.

Many researchers of motivation consider curiosity the primary human
motivator. Infants and toddlers are naturally brimming with curiosity and
the desire to explore. When caregivers help fulfill basic needs at appropri-
ate physical and safety levels and respect the children as separate individ-
uals with the ability to take some responsibility for their own experiences,
children feel secure and are able to get into the wonderful flow of explor-
ing both internal and external worlds.

4. Recognizing emotions in others. A fundamental relationship skill is
empathy (sensitivity to what others need or want). Research in infant
development has demonstrated that newborns exhibit empathy within the
first months of life. Recent research provides evidence that infants respond
empathically to the distress of both their mother and a peer and that they
become more empathic over the first two years of life (Geangu, Benga,
Stahl, & Striano, 2011; Roth-Hanania, Davidov, & Zahn-Waxler, 2011). If it
is true that empathy is present at birth, then insensitivity is learned from
the environment. Styles of caregiving have a profound impact on emo-
tional self-regulation and empathy as children grow; children who see
adults’ model empathy and frustration tolerance are more likely to develop
those qualities themselves (Eisenberg, Fabes, & Spinrad, 2006). Similarly,
when parents respond appropriately and sensitively to the toddler’s emo-
tional expressions, the toddler displayed more empathic behaviors (Emery,
McElwain, Groh, Haydon, & Roisman, 2014; Tong, Shinohara, Sugisawa,
Tanaka, Yato, Yamakawa, et al., 2012). On the other hand, when infants
and toddlers receive care that is abusive, they have significantly lower
scores on emotional regulation and exhibit more externalizing behaviors

empathy Sensitivity to what
others feel, need, or want; the
fundamental relationship skill
present at birth.

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(e.g., aggression) with peers (Kim & Cicchetti, 2010). In addition, it appears
that a lack of appropriate care (i.e., neglect) during the early years nega-
tively impacts emotional intelligence. Sullivan and colleagues found that
4-year-old children who were neglected were rated more poorly on mea-
sures of emotional knowledge than age-mates who were not neglected
(Sullivan, Bennett, Carpenter, & Lewis, 2008). Teachers must take great
care to create a positive learning environment that promotes stability and
fosters compassion for children who have not had such experiences.

Implications of this research for caregivers of young children should
be obvious: insensitivity, negativity, or aggression directed at infants and
toddlers results in children exhibiting those qualities toward themselves
and others. Child care that is sensitive, positive, and nurturing results
in children who exhibit those qualities as they grow up. Although many
skills need to be encouraged and modeled, teachers should intentionally
implement an “emotion-centered curriculum” that facilitates the children’s
development of appropriate emotional responses, regulation, and styles of
expression (Hyson, 2004).

5. Handling relationships. The last domain of emotional intelligence
involves interacting smoothly and demonstrating skills necessary to get along
well with others. It may seem odd at first to suggest that infants and toddlers
manage their relationships with others, but research indicates that infants as
young as 4 weeks old detect others’ emotions through crying contagion;
research provides strong evidence for a valenced response to crying (Saarni
et al., 2006). When testing infants who were 1-, 3-, 6-, and 9-months-old,
between 59 percent and 79 percent of the infants responded to a pain cry
with increased vocal and facial expressions of distress (Geangu, Benga,
Stahl, &  Striano, 2010). Infants clearly respond to the crying of other new-
borns by crying. Goleman (2006) explains that through a process called
emotional contagion, infants and other humans “catch” emotions from those
they are around (c.f. Yong & Ruffman’s [2014] study of the emotional conta-
gion of dogs). “We ‘catch’ strong emotions much as we do a rhinovirus—and
so can come down the emotional equivalent of a cold” (p. 22). This process
of catching emotions is unconscious, occurring in the amygdala, an almond-
shaped area in the midbrain that triggers responses to signs of danger.

Infants also imitate others’ behaviors and expressions within the
first three months. There is no question that the behavior of a baby elic-
its responses from caregivers. Many families even mark their child’s first
smile, step, word, and so forth with great celebration. Therefore, children
learn very early in life that their behavior affects others, even though the
conscious awareness that “When I do A, Mommy does B” doesn’t come
about until the end of the first year. Specific skills in working with others
are spelled out later in this textbook, but it is important to understand
here that development of these people skills occurs during the first years
of life as a part of the relationships with primary caregivers.

Interactional Synchrony
Very little research has been reported on how young children develop
skills to manage emotions in others. Studies of the baby’s contributions to

emotional contagion the
process through which infants
and other humans “catch”
emotions from those they are
around.

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their primary relationships involve the temperament research
discussed previously and studies on interactional synchrony
(Isabella & Belsky, 1991). This term is best described as a sensi-
tively tuned “emotional dance” in which interactions are mutu-
ally rewarding to the caregiver and the infant (Photo 3–3). The
two share a positive emotional state, with the caregiver and
infant switching the roles of “following” and “leading” as neces-
sary during different points in the dance (Goldsmith, 2010).
According to Feldman (2007), interactional synchrony “pro-
vides the foundation for the child’s later capacity for intimacy,
symbol use, empathy, and the ability to read the intentions of
others” (p. 330). However, engaging in interactional synchrony
is not only emotionally rewarding for infants but also is related
to lower levels of physiological distress for them (Moore  &
Calkins, 2004). Although there are cultural-specific behaviors
related to how adults interact with infants, research suggests
that there are more commonalities than differences. For exam-
ple, mother-infant dyads who had recently immigrated to the
United States from France and India displayed similar types of
interactional synchrony, yet at a lower frequency than did the
nonimmigrant group (Gratier, 2003). Similarly, mothers and
fathers do not differ in their ability to be in synch with their tod-
dlers during play interactions (de Mendonça, Cossette, Strayer, &
Gravel, 2011; Feldman, 2007). However, mothers of infants with profound
hearing loss overlapped their utterances with their infant’s vocalization
more than mothers of hearing infants, demonstrating less interactional
synchrony (Fagan, Bergeson, & Morris, 2014). Yet, within seven months
after the infants received cochlear implants, interactional synchrony
improved.

Taken together, this research demonstrates that caregivers need to
learn how to establish rapport and develop interactional synchrony with
infants and toddlers to enhance their emotional development and help
them learn to manage their relationships. However, do not pressure your-
self to always be in sync, which is an unrealistic expectation (Tronick &
Cohn, 1989).

To summarize, healthy emotional development involves recog-
nizing their feelings and those of other people, establishing trust
and autonomy in relationship with caregivers, having temperament
traits supported, and having a healthy balance between bonding and
separation-individuation. In addition, caregivers should understand how
brain development impacts emotional development, the five domains of
emotional intelligence, and how to use strategies that enhance both of
them. McLaughlin (2008) argues in her critical reflection of emotional
intelligence that while skills reside within a particular individual, they
must be taught through emphasizing specific relationships and commu-
nity building. In other words, while emotional intelligence can be boiled
down to a set of skills to be learned, to be meaningful and useful, these
skills must be intentionally used and taught during authentic, face-to-face
interactions.

interactional synchrony A
sensitively tuned “emotional
dance,” in which interactions
are mutually rewarding to
caregiver and infant.

Photo 3–3 Interactional synchrony
is the basis for healthy relationships.

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Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.
1. How do parent-child interactions impact healthy identity development

according to Erikson, Mahler, and Stern?
2. What factors influence how teachers use the concept of goodness-of-fit

with children in their care? Why is it important to realize this concept with
each child?

3. How does a child’s brain development and emotional IQ skills influence his
or her relationships with others?

4. Explain why caregivers should establish interactional synchrony with
children.

R E A D I N G
C H E C K P O I N T

3-2 Patterns of Social Development
Normal patterns for social development are the result of our all-important
relationships with our primary caregivers. The word relationship implies
two entities: one person relates with another. During infancy and toddler-
hood, respect for the child’s physical and psychological boundaries is cru-
cial to healthy social development. Because infants begin life unable to
care for their physical being, it is necessary for caregivers to intrude on
their physical boundaries to provide care. The term intrude was intention-
ally selected because the baby has no choice in how the caregiver handles
his or her body. When the caregiver respects the baby’s body, the baby feels
secure and loved. However, when the caregiver doesn’t respect the baby’s
body and is rough or insensitive, he or she causes feelings of insecurity and
physical pain. Children who have their physical and psychological bound-
aries respected learn to respect other people’s feelings as well. As a result
of being able to value their own wants and needs while being sensitive to
other people, these children are able to establish, manage, and maintain
healthy relationships with other people.

3-2a Attachment Theory
The infant’s first years of life are dedicated to the development of strong
emotional ties to the caregiver (Bowlby, 1969/2000). While research on
mother-child attachment preceded research on father-child attachment, the
importance of developing strong, secure relationships with both parents
cannot be denied (Bretherton, 2010). According to Bowlby’s ethological
theory of attachment, the infant’s relationship to the parent starts as a set
of innate signals that keep the caregiver close to the baby and proceeds
through four phases, as follows:

1. The preattachment phase (birth to 6 weeks old) occurs when the baby
grasps, cries, smiles, and gazes to keep the caregiver engaged.

2. The “attachment-in-the-making” phase (6 weeks to 8 months old)
consists of the baby responding differently to familiar caregivers than
to strangers. Face-to-face interactions relieve distress, and the baby
expects that the caregiver will respond when signaled.

3. The clear-cut attachment phase (8 months to 2 years old) is when the
baby exhibits separation anxiety, protests caregiver departure, and acts
deliberately to maintain caregiver attention.

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4. Formation of a reciprocal relationship phase (18 months old and
onward) occurs when children negotiate with the caregiver and are
willing to give and take in relationships.

Researchers measure attachment history for young toddlers using an
experimental design called the Strange Situation. This experiment involves
a series of separations and reunions. Four categories have been used to clas-
sify attachment patterns: secure, ambivalent/insecure, avoidant/insecure
(Ainsworth, 1967, 1973), and disoriented/insecure (Hesse & Main, 2000;
Main & Solomon, 1990) (see Chapter 4 for more information on each of
these). These attachment patterns have been found to be influenced by the
caregivers’ behavior and beliefs and to result in different social outcomes
for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children (see next section).

Securely Attached Infants
Infants’ attachment styles have been found to correlate to sets of caregiv-
ers’ behaviors (Figure 3–3). Regarding secure attachments, infants and
caregivers engage in finely tuned, synchronous dances where the adults
carefully read the infants’ cues, see events from the infants’ perspectives,
and respond accordingly (Isabella & Belsky, 1991; NICHD Early Child Care
Research Network, 1997; Oppenheim & Koren-Karie, 2002) (Photo 3–4).
More specifically, infants classified as securely attached tend to have care-
givers who do the following:

●● Consistently respond to infants’ needs
●● Interpret infants’ emotional signals sensitively
●● Regularly express affection
●● Permit babies to influence the pace and direction of their mutual inter-

actions (for reviews, see Honig, 2002; McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013)

Insecurely Attached Infants
In contrast, caregivers of insecurely attached infants tend to have diffi-
culty caring for the infants (e.g., dislike physical contact, are inconsistent,

FIGURE 3–3 ◗ Attachment Classifications

Attachment
classi�cations

Secure Insecure

Avoidant

Ambivalent

Disorganized

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PhOTO 3–4 Healthy relationships develop from positive attention, approval,
and attunement.

unpredictable, insensitive, and intrusive) or are unwilling to invest energy
in the relationship (Belsky, Rovine, & Taylor, 1984; Isabella, 1993; Thomp-
son, 1998). They might also struggle with interactive misattunement (i.e.,
a lack of the synchronous dance described earlier), especially with an
adopted child (Honig, 2014). George, Cummings, and Davies (2010) found
that father-child and mother-child attachments were predicted by paternal
and maternal responsiveness to children’s emotional distress, respectively.
For both mothers and fathers, being less emotionally responsive was related
to their child exhibiting more attachment insecurity. Similarly, mothers who
were less supportive with their children reported greater personal levels
of attachment avoidance behaviors (Berlin, Whiteside-Mansell, Roggman,
Green, Robinson, & Spieker, 2011). When foster parents reported more stress
and less of a supportive presence, the children had more insecure attach-
ments (Gabler, Bovenschen, Lang, Zimmermann, Nowacki, Kliewer, et al.,
2014). For children in the severest category of insecurity—disoriented—
the caregivers can be addicted to drugs or alcohol or be severely depressed
or mentally ill; they are unable to care for their own needs, let alone their
child’s. In several studies, these caregivers were found to have experienced
their own attachment-related traumas when they were children (Behrens,
Hesse, & Main, 2007; Hesse & Main, 2000; Madigan, Moran, Schuengel,
Pederson, & Otten, 2007). This body of research provides evidence that
parental beliefs, behaviors, and attachment histories are related to how care-
givers interact with and care for their infants.

Infant Behaviors and Characteristics
It is vital to realize, however, that the attachment security is not just a
function of the adult behaviors. Because it is a relationship, infant behav-
iors and characteristics must also be considered. Researchers have been

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interested in the impact of adoption on attachment security. In a study of
adopted toddlers who experienced institutionalization as infants, toddlers
with greater preadoption adversity took longer to form an attachment to
their adoptive parents (Carlson, Hostinar, Mliner, & Gunnar, 2014). While it
took longer, eventually 90 percent of the children achieved a high level on
the attachment scale utilized, which was no different from the nonadopted
children in the study. Yet, the toddlers who were rated as more insecure
had a higher likelihood to be disorganized in their attachment patterns
than the nonadopted children.

Teacher Relationships
Teachers of infants and toddlers also form ongoing relationships with
young children. The primary caregiving system (discussed in Chapter 1) has
been found to support secure teacher-child attachments (Ebbeck, Phoon,
Tan-Chong, Tan, & Goh, 2014). Relatedly, when interviewing teachers,
Ebbeck and Yim (2009) found that teachers felt “being responsive and emo-
tionally available was the most important and direct approach to foster their
relationship with infants/toddlers” (p. 902). To illustrate, 14-month-old
Louise is walking in the yard carrying a small truck in her hand. She sees
Randy, the caregiver, and squeals and giggles. She walks rapidly to Randy
with arms up and a big smile on her face. Randy picks her up, snuggles, and
greets her verbally.

The relationships families and caregivers form with very young chil-
dren help to determine what relationships children will develop later in
life. Strong, sensitive attachment can have a positive influence on a child’s
confidence, self-concept, and patterns of social interactions for the remain-
der of his or her life. While most research on caregiver-child relationships
has examined infants with their parents, the findings from this research
apply equally well to infant-caregiver relationships.

Being a responsive caregiver, however, goes beyond just examining your
own behaviors and interactions with children. Teachers must also come to
understand attachment relationships from the child’s and the family mem-
bers’ perspectives. In both cases, experiences with others set the foundation
for later relationships. Children use their relationships with their family
members to guide how they interact with peers, whereas adults (teachers
and parents) use their past relationships (with their own parents and/or
romantic relationships) to influence how they interact with children. Berlin
et al.’s (2011) findings suggest that some parents, given their attachment his-
tory, might be resistant to building a collaborative relationship with caregiv-
ers. Thus, early childhood educators might need to find additional avenues
for building strong relationships with some family members. The following
list explores avenues for affecting healthy development for young children.

1. Infants need to establish emotional attachment with their caregivers.
This attachment develops through regular activities that address the infants’
basic needs such as feeding and changing diapers. Yet caregivers should use
sensitive physical contact such as cuddling and touching to comfort and
stimulate interactions. When caregivers learn the child’s needs, schedules,
likes, dislikes, and temperament, and then respond to the child’s prefer-
ences, they teach the infant that he or she is an important person.

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As discussed in Chapter 1, when more than one caregiver is responsible
for a group of children, a primary caregiving system can be used to divide
the work and best meet the needs of the children. The primary caregiver
works closely with family members to establish consistent routines and
strategies for meeting the infant’s needs. She can share her knowledge about
the child’s needs and preferences so that other caregivers can match their
care to the child. Alternate caregivers should report observations about the
child’s behaviors to the primary caregiver. Thus, the primary caregiver has
two main responsibilities: to establish a special attachment with the child,
and to gather, coordinate, and share information about the child with other
caregivers and the family.

Each child needs to have a caregiver respond sensitively and con-
sistently to cries and cues of distress. The child then learns to trust the
caregiver. When crying infants are left alone for several minutes before a
caregiver responds, or when the caregiver responds quickly sometimes and
leaves them alone sometimes, children are confused and have difficulty
establishing a strong attachment because they cannot develop a strong
sense of trust in the caregiver. Responding quickly to infant and toddler
needs does not spoil children. It conveys that you hear their communi-
cation and that they are important enough for you to respond to it. Your
response should be quick but not hurried.

Consider the following example. Nancy is rocking Alvero when Karola
wakes from her nap. Nancy greets Karola by saying, “Look who is awake.
I am rocking Alvero. He is almost asleep. I’ll put him in his crib and then
get you up.” As this example shows, Nancy talked to Karola, the crying
infant, in a soothing voice before she was able to physically address her
need to get out of her crib. Although some readers may question the amount
of language provided to Karola, they should recall that receptive language
develops before productive language and that language serves not only as
a communication function but also as a tool for regulating strong emotions.
Remember, the most important task for an infant or toddler is to develop
trust and a secure attachment to the caregiver. For this to occur, the care-
giver must respond consistently and sensitively to the child’s needs.

2. Each child and his or her primary caregiver need special time
together. This “getting to know you” and “let’s enjoy each other” time
should be a calm, playful time to relax, look, touch, smile, giggle, cuddle,
stroke, talk, whisper, sing, make faces, and establish the wonderful dance
of interactional synchrony. Sometimes this can be active time, including
holding an infant up in the air at arm’s length while you talk and giggle
and then bringing the infant up close for a hug. Other times, this can mean
very quiet activities, such as rocking, cuddling, and softly stroking in a
loving way.

3. The caregiver must treat each child as a special, important person.
Infants and toddlers are not objects to be controlled but individuals of
worth with whom you establish a respectful, positive emotional relation-
ship while providing for their physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and
learning needs. More information will be provided in Chapter 9 regarding
how to build curriculum that is respectful, is responsive, and facilitates
development.

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FathEr-chILD INtEractIONS aND
DEVELOPMENtaL OUtcOMES

Much research has been conducted on the impact of
mother-child interactions on developmental outcomes
for young children. The amount and type of engage-
ment fathers have with their children has long been
assumed to be important to the development of young
children. Yet, much was not understood about this
topic until recently.

Drawing from a national sample of more than 5,000
fathers, Cabrera, Hofferth, and Chae (2011) investigated
whether father involvement in three tasks (i.e., verbal
stimulation, caregiving, and physical play) varied by
race/ethnicity. When controlling for variables such as
fathers’ education, depression symptoms, and quality
of family relationships, African American and Latino
fathers engaged in more caregiving and physical play
activities than did White fathers, whereas no differ-
ences were found between the three groups of fathers
on verbal stimulation activities. Fathers who reported
higher levels of conflict with their partner engaged in
less caregiving and physical play activities with their
infant.

While understanding the amount and type of father
engagement is important, researchers have also focused
on how fathers play an important and differential role in
their child’s developmental outcomes. A meta-analysis
of 24 publications discovered that 22 of the publica-
tions showed father engagement (i.e., direct interaction
with the child) to be associated with a range of positive
outcomes, although no specific form of engagement
was shown to yield better outcomes than another
(Sarkadi, Kristiansson, Oberklaid, & Bremberg, 2008).
For example, there was “evidence to indicate that father
engagement positively affects the social, behavioral,
psychological and cognitive outcomes of children”
(Sarkadi et al., 2008, p. 155, emphasis in original).

Fathers seem to provide an important context as
children are learning to regulate their emotions. The
data suggest that fathers in low-income families are
particularly important for helping very young chil-
dren gain control over intense emotions. Children who
live with their biological fathers or children who have
involved nonresidential biological fathers had more
optimal emotion-regulatory competencies (Bocknek,
Brophy-Herb, Fitzgerald, Schiffman, & Vogel, 2014),
fewer behavioral problems (Choi, Palmer, & Pyunas,
2014), as well as higher levels of self-regulation and

lower levels of aggression when compared to chil-
dren with unstable father connections (Vogel, Bradley,
Raikes, Boller, & Shears, 2006). The researchers con-
cluded that “to some degree, children living with their
biological fathers seem developmentally better off, pri-
marily in the self-regulatory and behavioral domains”
(Vogel et al., 2006, p. 204) as such relationships provide
more stability and predictability in father-child interac-
tions (Bocknek et al., 2014). When children are better
able to manage their emotions, they should engage in
aggressive or harmful behaviors less frequently. The
meta-analysis described earlier also found that father
involvement was associated with decreased aggressive
behaviors for boys (Sarkadi et al., 2008). While these
positive behaviors are most important developmental
outcomes, the origin of the pathway is still unclear. It
is possible that the outcome of reduced aggression is
linked to the increase in emotional regulation skills.
More research is needed to discern the complex rela-
tionships between father involvement and child devel-
opmental trajectories.

Other research has shown the positive impact of
father-child interactions on cognitive development.
Feldman (2007) discovered that father-child synchrony
at 5 months of age was related to complex symbol use
and the sequences of symbolic play at 3 years of age.
In addition, Bronte-Tinkew, Carano, Horowitz, and
Kinukawa (2008) found that various aspects of father
involvement (cognitively stimulating activities, phys-
ical care, paternal warmth, and caregiving activities)
were associated with greater babbling and exploring
objects with a purpose as well as a lower likelihood of
infant cognitive delay. Fathers who read with their tod-
dler more frequently had preschoolers who were better
on assessments of reading, math, and social-emotional
outcomes (Baker, 2013).

Another research study compared father- toddler
social toy play for families involved in an Early Head
Start (EHS) program to dads not involved in that pro-
gram. These researchers found that fathers who had
been in an EHS program showed more complexity in
their play with their children (Roggman, Boyce, Cook,
Christiansen, & Jones, 2004). For children, this com-
plex play was associated with better cognitive and
social outcomes; specifically, the children scored better
on tests of cognitive competence, language acquisition,
and emotional regulation.

This body of research makes it clear that edu-
cators need to create policies and engage in practices

Spotlight on Research

(continued)

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In conclusion, caregivers should be very aware of factors that affect
attachment security in young children. Sensitive caregiving that responds
appropriately to the child’s signals and needs is the most important fac-
tor in supporting children’s development. The findings from many studies
clearly reveal that securely attached infants have primary caregivers who
respond quickly to signals, express positive feelings, and handle babies
with tenderness and sensitivity. The best principle for infant and toddler
social development is probably that adults cannot be too “in tune” or give
too much approval and affection; young children can’t be spoiled. Your
sensitive caring sets the basis for future relationships that they will have
throughout their lives.

3-2b Relationships with Peers
While relationships are being established with adults, the children gen-
eralize the knowledge gained in their relationships with peers (Bowlby,
1969/2000). Infants demonstrate an increased desire to interact socially
with peers over the first year of life. Research reveals “that during the
second year of life, toddlers do display social skills of modest complex-
ity” as they develop friendships and begin to negotiate conflicts (Rubin,
Bukowski, & Parker, 2006, p. 587). The complexity can be shown in the
quality and depth of their relationships with peers as toddlers. For exam-
ple, toddlers have been found to have reciprocal relationships based “not
only on their mutual exchange of positive overtures, but also by agonistic
interactions” (Rubin et al., 2006, p. 588). In other words, their relation-
ships can be characterized by great warmth, aggression, and argumenta-
tive interactions as they learn to work closely with peers. Toddlers tend
to respond to cries by a familiar peer more than an unfamiliar peer (Kato,
Onishi, Kanazawa, Hmobayashi, & Minami, 2012) suggesting that even
toddlers use relationship knowledge to guide social responses. As this
research shows, there is rapid development in the acquisition of social
skills during the first two years of life as infants move from initiating basic
interactions to developing reciprocal relationships with others. Other
developmental milestones facilitate peer interactions and relationships as

that actively involve fathers in the care and education of
their infants and toddlers because doing so is related to
better developmental outcomes (i.e., cognitive, social,
and emotional) for the children. We need to (1) help
families understand the “the potential value of active
father involvement in children’s lives during these
critical early years” (Roggman et al., 2004, p. 103); and
(2) involve fathers in the daily care and educational
decisions as much as we do mothers. Many educa-
tors, like the population in general, continue to view

mothers as the primary caregiver. This means that we
tend to direct more communication toward them rather
than the fathers. As the expectations of fathers change,
many are often unsure of how to carry out these new
responsibilities. Educators can provide information to
families about the important role fathers play in pro-
moting child development and coach fathers as they
acquire the skills necessary for positive engagement
and/or complex play with toys.

Spotlight on Research (continued)

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well. For example, between 24 and 36 months of age, the rapid language
development of the toddler provides the basis for understanding the feel-
ings of other people, using more words to express feelings, and actively
participating in managing relationships. As language increases, so does
the toddler’s more complete model of the social world. Pointing gestures,
talkativeness, and vocabulary are “tools for both communication in and
representation of the social-emotional world . . . [and] may actually help
these young children build their concepts of the social-emotional world”
(Vallotton & Ayoub, 2010, p. 620). In addition, active self-talk dialogues;
make-believe play; and beliefs about the self, the world (including other
people), and the self in relation to others are exhibited during this period.
By the time children reach school age, they have established a model of the
world that includes self-concept, beliefs about the world (including other
people), and a style of communication that influences how they will man-
age relationships with others.

This model of the world, based on the child’s attachment history
with parents, has been shown to relate to the quality of relationships
with peers. Securely attached children tend to be more independent,
empathic, and socially competent preschoolers, especially in comparison
to insecurely attached children (DeMulder, Denham, Schmidt, & Mitchell,
2000; Kim, 2010; Rydell, Bohlin, & Thorell, 2005). When toddlers had a
secure attachment to their father, they were more likely to have a greater
number of reciprocal friendships during preschool (Verissimo, Santos,
Vaughn, Torres, Monteiro, & Santos, 2011). The impact of infant secure
attachment classification has also been associated with various aspects
of social competence for preschoolers (Veríssimo, Santos, Fernandes,
Shin, & Vaughn, 2014) as well as school-aged children and adolescents
(Abraham & Kerns, 2013; Booth-LaForce & Oxford, 2008; Chen, Liu, & Liu,
2013; Eceiza, Ortiz, & Apodaca, 2011; Feeney, Cassidy, & Ramos-Marcuse,
2008; Yoon, Ang, Fung, Wong, & Yiming, 2006), while an insecure attach-
ment has been related to maladaptive behaviors such as bullying (Eliot &
Cornell, 2009).

Social Learning Theories
Contributions by numerous social learning theorists help us understand
how infants and toddlers develop relationships. The first relationships
we have in the world with our parent(s) and caregivers result in the for-
mation of the self, which forms the basis for future relationships. Through
these relationships, very young children come to understand how they
are separate from others (e.g., self-recognition) as well as how they pro-
duce reactions and react to other’s behavior (e.g., sense of agency). Infants
as young as 9 months old demonstrate the emergence of self-recognition;
the majority of 18- to 24-month-olds have it (Nielsen, Suddendorf,  &
Slaughter, 2006).

Self-recognition is measured by putting a mark on an infant’s face
(typically the nose, but Nielsen et al., 2006, studied both legs and faces) and
having him look in the mirror. If he demonstrates self-recognition, he wipes
his nose to remove the mark; if he laughs at the reflection or touches the
mirror to wipe away the mark, he has not yet demonstrated self-recognition.
While it may seem like a simple concept to grasp, self-recognition is a

self-recognition conscious
awareness of self as different
from others and the
environment; occurs first
usually between 9 and 15
months of age.

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complex developmental task that represents not only social development
but also the brain’s ability to represent the concept symbolically and men-
tally (Bard, Todd, Bernier, Love, & Leavens, 2006; Sugiura, Sassa, Jeong,
Horie, Sato, & Kawashima, 2008). In fact, visual self-recognition in a mir-
ror emerged prior to the use of personal pronouns and photo identifica-
tion, two other indices of self-recognition (Courage, Edison, & Howe, 2004).
When 18-month-old children demonstrated self-recognition, they also imi-
tated a behavior more completely (Zmyj, Prinz, & Daum, 2013). In other
words, these toddlers were able to imitate both the action and the appropri-
ate location for displaying the action. The authors concluded that precisely
reproducing the observed behavior of others is related to the increased
competence in relating one’s own behavior to the corresponding visual
feedback.

3-2c Self-Esteem
Self-esteem can be defined as follows: the evaluation the individual makes
and customarily maintains with regard to himself; it expresses an attitude
of approval or disapproval, and indicates the extent to which the individual
believes himself to be capable, significant, successful, and worthy. In short,
self-esteem is a personal judgment of worthiness that is expressed in the
attitudes the individual holds toward himself (Coopersmith, 1967, pp. 4–5).
Information regarding one’s self-esteem is acquired through relationships
with others and interactions with materials.

Summarizing his data on childhood experiences that contribute to
the development of self-esteem, Coopersmith wrote, “The most general
statement about the antecedent of self-esteem can be given in terms of
three conditions: total or near total acceptance of the children by their
parents; clearly defined and enforced limits; and the respect and latitude
for individual actions that exist within the defined limits” (1967, p. 236).
Research with socially anxious preadolescents (10–13 years of age) who
reported high levels of fear of negative evaluations found that positive
peer feedback resulted in greater gains in self-esteem while negative peer
feedback resulted in greater decreases in self-esteem (Reijntjes, Thomaes,
Boelen, van der Schoot, de Castro, & Telch, 2011). Thus, socially anx-
ious children seem to be highly reactive to feedback from others. Unfor-
tunately, many adults believe that providing frequent praise will raise a
child’s self-esteem, regardless of other child characteristics (e.g., presence
of social anxiety). Although it is important that children think they are
worthy people, they must develop this from their experiences of mas-
tery and competence that are often born out of struggle and discomfort
(Pawl, 2012). The conditions for fostering self-esteem—acceptance, lim-
its, respect—provide guidelines for caregivers and will be discussed in
more depth in Chapter 6.

In general, research in the area of self-esteem has found that people
who develop good self-esteem have learned and exhibit three specific
skills: self-responsibility, enlightened self-interest, and a positive attitude.

1. People with good self-esteem assume ownership of their own
thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Self-responsibility is the keystone to

self-esteem Personal judgment
of worthiness based on an
evaluation of having, or not,
particular valued characteristics
or abilities.

self-responsibility taking over
responsibility for fulfilling some
of one’s own needs.

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independence. It is accurate to state that the most important task of child
care is to prepare children to function as healthy, autonomous individuals
capable of providing for their needs in ways acceptable to society. Caregiv-
ers should help children take responsibility for their own wants and needs
as is appropriate for their developmental level, while allowing dependency
in areas in which they are not yet capable of providing for themselves. For
example, learning to manage one’s emotions and respond using nonaggres-
sive strategies when a want cannot be immediately fulfilled is a develop-
mental challenge that children face early in life (Fuller, 2001). Helping a
child take as much responsibility as is age appropriate provides the child
with a sense of mastery and overall successful emotional development
(see Chapter 6).

2. People with good self-esteem are sensitive and kind toward other
people while addressing their own desires. In a research study, toddlers
were observed interacting with familiar peers in their own homes. The
focus children in the study were found to respond more positively to dis-
tress they had caused in their playmate than to distress they merely wit-
nessed (Demetriou & Hay, 2004). Hence, the toddlers were more sensitive
and responsive when they were responsible for the source of their play-
mate’s distress.

Learning to balance one’s own needs with the needs of others is not a
trivial task. It is interesting that a review of the English language reveals
no single word that describes a healthy self-interest in having one’s needs
and desires fulfilled. On the other hand, many words are available to
describe a lack of self-interest (e.g., selfless), too much self-interest (e.g.,
selfish), and a lack of interest in other people (e.g., insensitive, egocentric,
narcissistic, aloof). Because the skills necessary for positive self-esteem
and emotional intelligence require balance between awareness of one’s
own needs and sensitivity to the feelings of other people, a term is required
that accurately denotes a healthy amount of self-interest. The term
enlightened self-interest will be used to describe the skill of balancing
awareness of one’s own needs and feelings with the needs and feelings of
other people.

Although there are individual differences at birth, the sensitivity that
children exhibit toward others later in life is clearly related to the quality of
sensitivity, kindness, and respect they are shown by caregivers in the first
few years of life (Lawrence, 2006; Farrant, Devine, Maybery, & Fletcher,
2012). Yet, accounting for the impact of contextual variables is not always
straightforward. Demetrious and Hay (2004) found that toddlers who
had older siblings were more likely than other target children to respond
negatively to their playmate’s distress. Thus, adults and siblings might
provide conflicting models of how to respond sensitively to another
person’s distress and, therefore, impact the development of self-esteem in
different ways.

3. People with good self-esteem have a positive attitude about them-
selves. In other words, they make conscious positive statements to them-
selves about their own value and self-worth (Kocovski & Endler, 2000).
Infants and toddlers internalize the moral values, beliefs, and attitudes of
the people in their environment. This becomes part of their personality.

enlightened self-interest the
skill of balancing awareness of
one’s own needs and feelings
with the needs and feelings of
other people.

positive attitude an aspect of
self-esteem whereby children
make conscious positive
statements to themselves
about their own value and
self-worth.

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The infants and young toddlers adopt the attitudes, state-
ments, and feelings that their caregivers direct toward
them. When caregivers consistently direct affection, posi-
tive attention, approval, and respect toward young chil-
dren, they feel valuable, worthy, and proud. However,
when caregivers are critical, angry, demanding, or judg-
mental toward children, they learn guilt, anxiety, shame,
and self-doubt.

3-2d Prosocial Behaviors
Children’s displays of prosocial behaviors increase sig-
nificantly during the second year of life (Brownell, 2013).
Children who possess a healthy internal locus of con-
trol know that their actions impact those around them
(Photo 3–5). Yet, that is not a sufficient condition for
ensuring that young children use their personal power
to benefit others. It has been found that when parents
adopt particular guidance strategies (e.g., induction,
which is a type of verbal discipline in which the adult
gives explanations or reasons for why the child should
change her behavior), they tend to have children who are
more socially competent (Kwon, Jeon, & Elicker, 2013)
and exhibit more prosocial behaviors (see Eisenberg

et al., 2006, for a review). Likewise, when parents were taught to avoid
more permissive parenting behaviors, their toddlers displayed more social
competence with peers (i.e., less verbal aggression; Christopher, Saun-
ders, Jacobvitz, Burton, & Hazen, 2013). Thus, adults who provide feed-
back about appropriate, helpful behaviors, emphasizing the impact of the
child’s actions on another person, tend to be associated with children who
engage in more prosocial behavior.

Emotional Talk
To elaborate even more, Brownell, Svetlova, Anderson, Nichols, and
Drummond (2013) investigated the impact of reading books that prompted
emotional talk about others’ feelings on toddlers’ prosocial behavior. They
discovered that parents who elicited more emotional talk by asking their
toddler to label and explain emotions were associated with toddlers who
helped and shared more quickly and more frequently. What is particu-
larly important about this study is that it was the parent’s elicitation of
children’s emotional talk, rather than their own emotional talk, that was
most impactful on prosocial behaviors. Similarly, when parents engaged
in practices that encouraged their preschooler to take another person’s
perspective, the children demonstrated more prosocial behaviors (Farrant
et al., 2012). These authors concluded that although parent-child interac-
tions in infancy play critical roles in the development of prosocial behav-
iors, parents must continue to facilitate the development of prosocial
behaviors during the latter part of the early childhood period (3–8 years
of age).

PhOTO 3–5 Providing choices of what to
clean up helps to develop responsibility and
an internal locus of control.

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Intrinsic Motivation
According to Hepach, Vaish, and Tomasello (2013), very young children
engage in prosocial behavior because they are intrinsically motivated
rather than motivated by extrinsic rewards, and they are more inclined to
help those for whom they feel sympathy. For example, when toddlers were
given rewards (physical object) for engaging in a prosocial behavior, they
were less likely to help an adult in need than children who were given a
verbal reward (praise) or no reward at all (Hepach et al., 2013). The find-
ing about the impact of praise differs from previous research. Others have
found that the application of verbal praise for prosocial behaviors actually
undermines children’s development (Grusec, 1991). It appears that exter-
nal rewards (verbal or concrete) decrease the internal drive to do a good
deed because the adult places emphasis on getting something. In other
words, such adult behaviors undo the child’s natural tendencies toward
prosocial behaviors by teaching him that he should engage in a prosocial
behavior only if it benefits himself (Warneken & Tomasello, 2008).

Sympathy
As mentioned previously, toddlers engage in prosocial behaviors when they
feel sympathy for the person in need. Two recent studies have found that
toddlers accurately respond to displays of distress by demonstrating helpful
or prosocial behaviors (Hepach et al., 2013; Williamson, Donohue, & Tully,
2013). One of those studies will be discussed in more depth to illustrate
the importance of feeling sympathy for a victim. In an experimental situa-
tion, toddlers participated in one of two conditions. In the harm condition,
the toddler was present when one adult took or destroyed the belongings
of another adult (recipient), whereas in the control condition, the toddler
was present when one adult took or destroyed the belongings that did not
belong to the recipient present. Next, the recipient was given one balloon,
and the toddler was given two balloons. The adult “accidently” lost her bal-
loon, could not retrieve it, and displayed overt sadness. Toddlers showed
significantly more prosocial behaviors in the harm condition than in the
control condition (Hepach et al., 2013). In addition, the level of concern
displayed by toddlers when viewing the harm condition was positively
correlated to their exhibiting prosocial behaviors. In other words, toddlers
who displayed more concern engaged in more prosocial behaviors. Thus, it
appears that child characteristics (e.g., attention to another’s needs) impact
the development and demonstration of prosocial behaviors.

Imagine that you are working in a continuity of care
classroom, caring for eight infants and toddlers.
Because they are of different ages, family members tend
to notice that some children engage in different social
behaviors than do others. A family member has asked
you how to assist her child with being more “helpful”

(i.e., prosocial) at home. What questions would you
want to ask him before answering his question? Make
a list of five resources in your community that could
be of benefit to this family. Then, determine how you
would share this information with him.

Family and Community Connection

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Temperament
Some children may be more inclined to engage in prosocial behaviors based
on their temperament. As discussed previously, temperament reflects how
a person typically behaves. One research team investigated the relationship
between temperament and engaging in prosocial behaviors. They found that
preschoolers who were rated as high to moderate on self-regulation and low
to moderate on negative emotionality engaged in more prosocial behav-
iors during preschool, first grade, and third grade (Laible, Carlo, Murphy,
Augustine, & Roesch, 2014). The opposite relationship was also true. Spe-
cifically, preschoolers who were low on self-regulation and high on negative
emotionality, especially displays of anger, engaged in fewer prosocial behav-
iors during the same time period. The authors concluded that “temperamen-
tal dimensions work in complex ways to predict social behaviors” (p. 749).

In conclusion, it appears that healthy social development is related
to secure attachment and trust in our primary caregivers, healthy identity
development, and caregiver respect and sensitivity to children’s physical
and psychological boundaries. Healthy social development involves chil-
dren being aware of their own needs and desires and those of other people,
as well as communicating verbally and nonverbally in ways that establish
interactional synchrony with others. Table 3–2 presents some of the major
milestones for social development from birth through 36 months of age.
However, when a child does not meet developmental milestones or oth-
erwise displays unhealthy social development, issues regarding mental
health can be raised. The issue of infant and early childhood mental health
will be explored further in Chapter 10.

TABLE 3–2 ◗ Milestones for Social Development: Birth to 36 Months

age aCtivities

Birth to 6 months Fusing with mother evolves into basic self-discriminations
Matches feelings and tones of caregiver
Demonstrates empathy
Exhibits interactional synchrony
Exhibits social smile
Shows happiness at familiar faces
Gains caregiver attention intentionally

7–12 months Exhibits self-recognition and discrimination from others
Seeks independence in actions
Keeps family members or caregiver in sight
Starts imitative play

12–24 months Exhibits possessiveness
acts differently toward different people
commonly shows stranger anxiety
Engages in parallel play
Shows strong ownership

24–36 months Shares, but not consistently
recognizes differences between mine and yours
Understands perspective of other people
helps others
Begins to play cooperatively

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Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. What does it mean for a child to be securely attached? Insecurely attached?
Why is it important for caregivers to establish secure relationships with the
infants and toddlers in their care?

2. What role does having and enforcing limits have on the development of
healthy self-esteem? Why?

3. Provide and explain an example of a teacher facilitating the development of
prosocial behavior in a toddler.

R E A D I N G
C H E C K P O I N T

3-1 Determine typical patterns of emotional
development between birth and thirty-six
months of age.
Four different concepts related to emotional
development were discussed in this chapter:
Erikson’s psychosocial theory, separation and
together, temperament, and emotional intelli-
gence. Recent research, including studies of brain
development, provides evidence that biological
and environmental influences work in complex
ways to result in children being emotionally com-
petent (or not).

3-2 sequence typical patterns of social
development between birth and thirty-six
months of age.
Adults must assume responsibility for sup-
porting and facilitating very young children’s
social development. One of the primary vehicles
through which such competencies develop is the
adult-child relationship. Responsive, attuned care
that is delivered in synchrony with the child pro-
vides a strong foundation for secure attachments,
relationships with peers, self-esteem, and proso-
cial behaviors.

Summary

Evaluating Development

You should now have a working knowledge of nor-
mal patterns of development in each of the four areas
for children under the age of 36 months. To test your
understanding of information in Chapters 2 and 3,
decide if Marcus is advanced, behind, or at age level in
the following evaluation summary.

Marcus, who is 24 months old, is in child care from
7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., five days a week. He lives with
his mother and grandfather in a three-bedroom duplex.
An evaluation of his development in each of the four
major areas revealed the following observations:

Physical Factors. Marcus is 34 inches tall, weighs
35 pounds, has 20/20 vision, and can focus and track
across a line of letters fluidly. He has all 20 baby teeth,
can stand on one foot and hop, and is interested in toi-
let learning. He can throw a ball with each hand and
use a fork to eat.

Emotional Factors. Marcus clings to his caregiver
during drop-off and shows anxiety at the presence of
strangers. He is compliant and follows directions when
he feels secure, but he can whine when he needs more
individual attention. He has difficulty understanding
his feelings or soothing himself. When not involved

Marcus C A S E S T u D Y

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with his caregiver or other children, Marcus tends to
wander around the room.

Social Factors. Marcus has some difficulty deter-
mining what things are his, and he cooperates with
other children when he has the full attention of his
caregiver. He is easily emotionally hurt by other chil-
dren and does not defend himself when they take a toy
he was playing with. He frequently focuses on his own
needs and has difficulty reading the feelings of other
children. Although his language skills are sufficient,
Marcus often screams rather than uses words when his
peers bother him.

Cognitive Factors. When he feels secure, Marcus
is curious, explores his environment, and gains a lot
of physical knowledge. Although he has some diffi-
culty interacting with peers, he participates in active,

creative pretend play and exhibits a logical sequence
in the stories he makes up. He uses double substitu-
tion in play and understands four- and five-direction
sequences.

1. Use the Developmental Milestones provided in
Appendix A to determine if you think Marcus is
advanced for his age level, at age level, or below
age level for each area of development. Explain
how you drew each conclusion.

2. What contextual factors should be considered
when evaluating his development and why?

3. In which of the four areas is it most difficult for
you to make an assessment of Marcus? What addi-
tional information do you need? Why?

Lesson Plan
Title: It’s a Mess
Child observation:

Jozie (22 months) toddled over to the art shelf. She
grabbed a chunk of paper and carried it to the table.
Then, she returned to the shelf and retrieved the mark-
ers. She made marks on the paper for 5 minutes. Dur-
ing the process, I noticed her looking at her hands; the
pinky-edge of her left palm was turning colors due to
the markers. She looked at me with concern, and I said
“It’s okay. You can wash it off when you are all done
with your picture.”

Child’s Developmental goal:

To respond to the emotional expression of others (espe-
cially distress).

To help clean up after a messy experience.

materials: 2 colors of finger paint, shallow trays, a
spoon for each tray, finger paint paper, paint smock,
2 wet sponges

Preparation: Clear a table for this experience. Create
an individual work space for two or three children
by putting a piece of finger paint paper in front of
each chair. Then, transfer the finger paint to shallow
trays, and place them on the table so that it is easily
accessible for each child. Lay a smock on the back of

each chair to cue children that they need to wear one.
Wet the sponges and place them near you to help with
cleaning up.

learning environment:

1. When you notice a child near the finger paint
table, join her or him.

2. Encourage the child to invite a friend to paint with
her or him or do it yourself.

3. While helping the children get their smocks on,
discuss how this experience involves a new type
of paint and that you don’t use a paintbrush like at
the easel. To illustrate, you could say:

“This is called finger paint. You scoop it into
the spoon and put it on your paper. Then, you
use your fingers to move the paint around on the
paper.”

4. Observe and record the children’s actions with
the finger paint. Take pictures of them working as
well.

5. If Jozie or another child becomes overly excited
and paints on the table, use redirection to focus on
“painting on the paper.” If paint is dropped on the
floor at any time, encourage the child to use the
sponge to clean it up. Remind them that “the paint
is slippery, and we don’t want anyone to fall and
get hurt.”

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6. Invite the children to participate in a conversa-
tion by asking prompts or open-ended questions
such as:
a. I hear lots of squeals of delight. What is so great

about the finger paint?
b. Anthony has a scared look on his face. I wonder

what is wrong. How can we help him?
7. Accept and elaborate on the toddler’s answers. For

example, if the child says “Need hug,” you might
respond: “You think a hug would help Anthony
feel better? That might work because a hug helps
you feel better. Do you want to give Anthony a
hug?”

8. When the child is done painting, encourage her
or him to clean up the work area. Give one or two
directions at a time to help with compliance. To
illustrate, you can tell the child:

“You have to clean up your work area. I’ll help
you put your painting on the rack. Then, we will
use the sponges to wipe up the table.” After that is
completed, go to the sink with the child to assist
with washing hands/arms/smock.

9. Thank the child for helping to clean up her or his
work area. You could say:

“Thank you for cleaning up your area. It is
important to help keep the room clean.”

guidance Consideration:

Some children do not like to wear smocks. Offer
them a choice of a smock or a recycled, button-down
shirt worn backwards. If they refuse, discuss with
their family members how to handle this situation
so that the child does not miss out on this learning
experience. Some families are okay with having their
child change into another set of clothes after painting
and washing the paint-covered clothes at the end of
the day.

variations:

Invite the children to stand up while finger painting at
the table. This will provide a different perspective for
their work. It will also challenge them to stay in the
painting area, so be prepared with good guidance strat-
egies such as limit setting and choices.

Professional Resource Download

Additional Resources
Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

(2011). Building the brain’s “air traffic control” sys-
tem: How early experiences shape the development
of executive function: Working Paper No. 11, http://
www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

Nelson, K. (2010). Young minds in social worlds:
Experience, meaning, and memory. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press.

Odom, S. L., Pungello, E. P., & Gardner-Neblett,
N. (Eds.) (2012). Infants, toddlers, and families

in poverty: Research implications for early child
care. New York: Guilford Press.

Schutt, R. K., Seidman, L. J., & Keshavan, M. S. (2015).
Social neuroscience: Brain, mind, and society.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Underwood, M. K., & Rosen, L. H. (Eds.) (2013). Social
development: relationships in infancy, childhood,
and adolescence. New York: Guilford Press.

chaPtEr 3 Social and Emotional Development 83

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© Cengage Learning

C H A P T E R

Attachment and the Three As

Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

4-1 Explain the changing roles concerning
attachment for early childhood educators.

4-2 Understand the three As and how to use
them in interactions with very young
children.

Standards Addressed
in This Chapter

NAEYC Standards
for Early Childhood Professional
Preparation

1 Promoting Child Development and Learning

4 Using Developmentally Effective Approaches
to Connect with Children and Families

Developmentally Appropriate
Practice Guidelines

2 Teaching to Enhance Development and
Learning

In addition, the NAEYC standards for develop-
mentally appropriate practice are divided into
six areas particularly important to infant/toddler
care. The following area is addressed in this
chapter: relationship between caregiver and child.

4

84

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The lifelong effects of positive, consistent, and conscious infant and tod-
dler care have been understood by child development and early childhood
experts for a long time. A working premise of this book is that what you
do with children matters. Positive intention coupled with responsiveness
to developmental characteristics makes a profound difference in the lives
of children. As previously discussed, the quality of your caring, including
actions, verbal messages, voice tone and tempo, and secure handling, helps
create the neural pathways that determine each child’s perceptions and
models of the world. Your interactions with young children help deter-
mine how each child will eventually perceive himself or herself—as wor-
thy or unworthy, capable or incapable, hopeful or hopeless.

Caregivers have a mission that is monumental in nature. Your daily
movements, efforts, and attitudes affect each and every child; no position in
society is more important. The abilities to understand and fulfill academic
requirements and to master specific skills, such as feeding babies and build-
ing appropriate curricula for toddlers, are necessary to your professional
work with young children and may even extend into your personal life.
These immensely important aspects of child care, however, are not enough.

Students studying child care must also integrate their selves into their
work because in no other field is the professional in need of self-integration
more than in this most humanistic endeavor. Taking charge of tomorrow’s
leaders on a daily basis demands human investment because it supports
future human relationships. Just how valuable are these first relationships
to future development? Look at what just a few experts have to say about
the importance of human connections:

“Every experience lives on in further experiences” (Dewey, 1938, p. 28).
“It is in that context of loving, paying attention, and turn-taking that infants begin

to feel more or less competent, good about themselves, and begin to make the most
miraculous mutual adaptations with those caring for them” (Pawl, 2012, p. 22).

As we acknowledge our responsibility as caregivers, we must also readily accept
that involving “the child as an active, thinking participant” is the best way to sup-
port the developing brain (Thompson, 2006, p. 50). “More than any toy, CD, or
video, a sensitive social partner can respond appropriately to what has captured
the child’s interest . . . [and] provoke new interests and exploration” (p. 49).

The importance of warm, loving, verbal interactions between parent or
caregiver and child, particularly in the first two years, should not be under-
estimated. The three As are the master tools that ensure that your effect on
children is positive and productive. There is no better way to provide quality
care than a wonderfully soothing dose of consciously administered attention,
approval, and attunement. Before the details of the three As are addressed,
we will first return to the importance of attachment theory for teachers.

4-1 The Attachment Debate and the Roles
of Caregivers
Discussion of the three As begins with the scientific fact that infants and
toddlers require secure attachments or enduring emotional ties to their
caregivers for normal, healthy development. An ongoing debate in the

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research literature concerns whether infants exhibit less secure attachment
when they experience child care as opposed to being raised exclusive by
family members. This debate cannot be discussed without considering the
changing roles of mothers and fathers in the care of infants. One historical
view was that only the mother could bond with the infant sufficiently to
ensure healthy development. In contrast, current perspectives suggest that
nonfamilial persons can meet the needs of infant equally well. Because a
great number of infants and toddlers are spending the majority of their day
in child care, the question of what quality of attachment to one consistent
person the infant may require to develop security and trust is being studied
more intensely.

As is discussed in Chapter 3, researchers have identified a pattern of
secure attachment and three patterns of insecure attachment (Ainsworth,
1967, 1973; Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Hesse & Main, 2000;
Main & Solomon, 1990):

1. Secure attachment. The infant uses a parent or other family member
as a secure base, strongly prefers the parent over a stranger, actively seeks
contact with the parent, and is easily comforted by the parent after being
absent. This type of attachment describes the majority of infant-parent rela-
tionships worldwide (Bergin & Bergin, 2012).

2. Avoidant attachment. The infant is usually not distressed by paren-
tal separation and may avoid the parent or prefer a stranger when the
parent returns.

3. Resistant attachment. The infant seeks closeness to the parent and
resists exploring the environment, usually displays angry behavior after
the parent returns, and is difficult to comfort.

4. Disoriented attachment. The infant shows inconsistent attachment
and reacts to the parent returning with confused or contradictory behavior
(looking away when held or showing a dazed facial expression).

A phenomenon related to attachment is separation anxiety, which
appears to be a normal developmental experience because children from
every culture exhibit it. Infants from various cultures all over the world
have been found to exhibit separation anxiety starting at around 9 months
old and increasing in intensity until approximately 15 months old (Bergin
& Bergin, 2012). Separation anxiety is exhibited by securely attached
infants, as well as each type of insecurely attached infants.

A summary of the research on infant attachment suggests that infants
are actively involved in the attachment relationship. Babies are normally
capable of attaching securely to more than one adult or parent. Contem-
porary researchers have examined how children create attachments with
caregivers, including fathers (Condon, Corkindale, Boyce, & Gamble, 2013;
Feinberg & Kan, 2008; Figueiredo, Costa, Pacheco, & Pais, 2007), grand-
parents (Farmer, Selwyn, & Meakings, 2013; Poehlmann, 2003), broth-
ers and sisters (Kennedy, Betts, & Underwood, 2014; Volling, Herrera, &
Poris, 2004), adoptive and foster families (Dyer, 2004; Gabler et al., 2014;
Oosterman & Schuengel, 2008; Stovall-McClough & Dozier, 2004), and pro-
fessional early childhood educators (Buyse, Verschueren, & Doumen, 2011;
Caldera & Hart, 2004; Commodari, 2013; O’Connor & McCartney, 2006).

secure attachment a
connection between infant and
primary caregiver in which the
infant feels safe and responds
warmly to the caregiver.

avoidant attachment One
of the types of attachment
between infants and primary
caregiver that is related to
inconsistent and insensitive
caregiver attention.

resistant attachment a form
of connection between infant
and primary caregiver in which
the infant simultaneously seeks
and resists emotionally and
physically connecting with the
caregiver. the term ambivalent
can be used to describe the
same types of attachment
behaviors.

disoriented attachment a
form of attachment between
infant and primary caregiver
in which the infant has usually
been traumatized by severe or
prolonged abandonment.

separation anxiety Fear
exhibited at the loss of physical
or emotional connection with
the primary caregiver.

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While infants can form multiple attachments, the quality
of those attachments is not static; they can change over time in
response to changing environmental conditions. Booth-LaForce
et al. (2014) report that changes in family structure (e.g., divorce
or remarriage) or job status (e.g., job gain or loss) can result in
either continuity or discontinuity of attachment. Some changes,
such as entrance to foster care for an infant or toddler, have
been assumed to be negative. However, Jacobsen, Ivarsson,
Wentzel-Larsen, Smith, and Moe (2014) found that when tod-
dlers entered foster care with a secure attachment, they were
more likely to be rated as securely attached a year later. In addi-
tion, when children with disorganized attachments were placed
in foster care, they were less likely to be rated as disorganized a
year later. Taking these results together leads the author to con-
clude that stable, well-functioning foster homes can have a posi-
tive impact on children’s attachment (Jacobsen et al., 2014).

Caregiving that is supportive and sensitive to the child’s
needs promotes secure attachment (Photo 4–1). For example,
mothers who responded to their child’s cues with insightfulness
(e.g., seeing the problem from the child’s perspective) had chil-
dren who were significantly more likely to have secure attach-
ment (Koren-Karie, Oppenheim, Dolev, & Sher, 2002). Secure
infant attachment and continuity of caregiving are related to later
cognitive, emotional, and social competence. The research on
adoptive families, for example, illustrates two of these patterns.
Infants adopted at younger ages showed higher levels of secure behavior
and more coherent attachment strategies than those adopted when they
were older (Stovall-McClough & Dozier, 2004), and these positive attach-
ment relationships predicted later socioemotional and cognitive develop-
ment (Stams, Juffer, & van IJzendoorn, 2002).

From these findings, we can draw several important implications for
caregiving and changes in early childhood educators’ roles. Research on
attachment security of infants with full-time working mothers suggests
that most infants of employed mothers are securely attached, and that this
relationship is more influential on early social and emotional growth than
the relationships a child has with other caregivers, both inside and outside
the home (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 1997, 1998a, 1998b,
1999, 2005). However, when a child has an insecure relationship with her
mother, early childhood educators can establish a secure relationship with
the child, providing a buffer against some of the negative developmen-
tal outcomes (Buyse et al., 2011). Hence, with more mothers of infants in
the workplace, the responsibility for forming secure attachments must be
shared with fathers, other family members, and teachers. Everyone must
work together to provide secure and consistent attachment and bonding
with infants.

Forming reciprocal relationships or partnerships with families will
assist in this process. Our responsibilities as teachers are twofold: we must
not only help children develop trust and secure attachments with us but
also assist family members to form strong, secure relationships with the
infant. As discussed previously, employing particular strategies such as

Photo 4–1 The type of attachments
a child forms with her caregivers
impacts how she relates to other
adults and children.

©
2

01
7

Ce
ng

ag
e

Le
ar

ni
ng

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a primary caregiving system, family grouping, and continuity of care can
ensure that each infant and toddler has as few caregivers as possible, each
providing consistency and predictability over time. Pawl (2006) suggests
that caregivers need to help the parent exist for the child and help the child
know that she also exists for the parents when they are separated during
the day. For example, reminding the child that his foster parent is “leaving
work to come and get him because she misses him” is important both to
providing quality care and supporting the development of strong relation-
ships. The second prong of our approach must be to provide family support
and education to help family members form and maintain secure attach-
ments with their children. Family education should include the impor-
tance of mothers, fathers, and other family members providing direct care
of the children so that they can experience consistent, loving, and healthy
relationships. Working together, parents, family members, and teachers can
create consistent, secure attachment with infants and toddlers.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. Why are early relationships important to later development?
2. How does knowing about and understanding the attachment relationships

that the children in your care have with their family members help you as an
early childhood educator?

R E A D I N G
C H E C K P O I N T

4-2 The Three As: Attention, Approval,
and Attunement
The three As of child care—attention, approval, and attunement—are the
master tools for promoting a positive environment and maintaining a posi-
tive emotional connection between the young child and the caregiver. The
three As are extremely powerful tools available to any person in just about
any situation, yet they are essential in the care and education of very young
children. The three As are called master tools because they apply to every-
thing we do all day long. Attention, approval, and attunement are neces-
sary for positive interactions, good self-esteem, and remaining at ease.

The concepts of attention, approval, and attunement are meant to
empower you and help facilitate an attitude change toward yourself, which
emphasizes that early childhood educators’ feelings have a profound effect
on children. The three As are derived directly from current perspectives
on development and care (discussed in Chapter 1): brain research and eco-
logical systems, sociocultural, and attachment theories. In addition, they
are supported by our understanding of the guidelines for developmentally
appropriate curriculum, which are addressed in more detail in Chapters 11,
12, and 13 (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Copple, Bredekamp, Koralek, &
Charner, 2013). This theoretical knowledge helps a teacher appropriately
care for and educate children; when that same caregiver uses this knowl-
edge for personal development, he or she can enjoy benefits as well.

attention One of the three
As of child care; focusing
sensory modalities (e.g., visual,
auditory) on a specific child.

approval One of the three
As of child care; feedback that
a person is accepted as he or
she is.

attunement One of the three
As of child care; feedback that
is in tune with or responsive to
the behaviors or moods being
currently displayed by the child.

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4-2a Attention
You have likely heard the saying, “Smile and the whole world smiles with
you.” Can you remember a time when you were put at ease when greeted
by a stranger’s smile or felt instant rapport when someone returned your
smile? So much is communicated without words; often the unspoken
message conveys exactly how a person is feeling. When we realize that

InFant persIstence

Infants are born curious about the world and their place
in it. This curiosity results in a great deal of internal
motivation. It should be no surprise then that infants
spend a great deal of time exploring the people and
objects in their environments. Is being persistent a sta-
ble, individual quality that varies among individuals,
and, if so, how does more or less persistence impact
later development?

Banerjee and Tamis-LeMonda (2007) set out to
explore these questions with their sample of 65 low-
income mother-infant dyads. These researchers video-
taped infant-mother interactions in their home during
a teaching task when the infants were 6 months and
14 months of age. The measure of infant persistence
was coded from a three-minute interaction with a toy
at 6 months of age. Infant cognition was measured
after each session using the Mental Scale of the Bayley
Scales of Infant Development.

The results showed that as early as 6 months of age,
infants differ in their degree of persistence and that
there was a significant correlation in persistence scores
over the eight-month period. In other words, infants
who were more persistent at 6 months old tended to
be more persistent at 14 months old. Additionally,
“infants who persisted early on also . . . had higher
scores on the Bayley Mental Development Index”
(Banerjee & Tamis-LeMonda, 2007, p. 487). Thus, per-
sistence was associated with greater levels of cognitive
development.

Next, the researchers investigated the impact of moth-
ers’ teaching on cognitive development. They found that
“mothers’ teaching at six but not fourteen months was
associated with persistence at both ages and predicted
cognitive development at fourteen months” (Banerjee
& Tamis-LeMonda, 2007, p. 487). The researchers con-
cluded from this result that mothers’ early teaching had a
dual function of helping infants to be persistent at a chal-
lenging task as well as promoting cognitive development.

Similarly, other researchers have found short- and
long-term impacts of mother behaviors and character-
istics on young children’s persistent behaviors. Moth-
ers’ positive affective responses to their 18-month-old
child during a semi-structured play session were asso-
ciated with more persistence and competence during
preschool, whereas dismissed affect exchanges had
negative relationships with children’s persistence
and independent mastery (Wang, Morgan, & Biringen,
2014). Mothers who reported more stress when their
infant was 6 months old tended to have children who
showed lower mastery motivation at 18 months (i.e.,
less persistence during interactions with people and
toys; Sparks, Hunter, Backman, Morgan, & Ross, 2012).

These research studies have implications for early
intervention specialists as well as early childhood
educators. If teachers and intervention specialists
work with infants and their families to support the
development of persistence, they would also be sup-
porting important cognitive skills. Wheeler and Stultz
(2008) suggest that music therapy can be used to
assist young infants with regulating their attention to
environmental stimuli, especially people. For exam-
ple, therapists can use their voice, face, and hands as
tools for gaining the attention of an infant. Then, they
attempt to gain eye contact, even if infrequent, and to
be attuned to the infant’s cues while working to extend
periods of interactions. It would seem reasonable to
conclude that “extending periods of interactions”
(Wheeler & Stultz, 2008) is another way to describe the
infant’s ability to persist in an interaction with another
person. Gaining and maintaining this balance is not
easy as infants frequently change states of arousal
and often have difficulty regulating their reactions to
new stimuli. Wheeler and Stultz (2008) conclude that
therapists support moderate arousal by soothing and
containing the agitated child, enticing the withdrawn
child, and inviting the child’s attention to the social
environment.

Spotlight on Research

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70 percent of our total communication is nonverbal, it is easy to under-
stand why a smile says so much.

In the simplest way, a smile is a way to attend to yourself and to some-
one else. When you bring attention to a behavior in another person, you are
sending a message about the importance of that behavior. Using the words
of Vygotsky, you are helping children construct an understanding of the
meaning behind a smile. For example, the child may construct the notion
that people smile when they are happy or see a behavior that they like. In
this way, young children begin to associate a smile response with engaging
in an appropriate behavior. Our responses can be overt and filled with emo-
tion (e.g., “You did it!”) or more neutral (e.g., sitting nearby and observing
a child play; Copple et al., 2013). In either case, a neural pathway is then
built to remember this association; in this way, what we attend to helps the
brain to grow. The opposite is also true. If we attend to negative behaviors
displayed by children, then children may construct an understanding that
these behaviors are appropriate ways to interact with others.

Of course, attending is much more complicated than just producing a
smile or reacting to a negative behavior. Attention, for early childhood
educators, also involves higher mental functions (Bodrova & Leong, 2007)
or “cognitive processes acquired through learning and teaching . . . [that] . . .
are deliberate, mediated, internalized behaviors” (pp. 19, 20, emphasis in
original). Teachers must learn to engage in focused attention to observe the
behavior, skills, and needs of the children in their care. Observing closely,
or attending, facilitates your analysis of the child’s behaviors and appropri-
ate responses to those behaviors. In other words, attending makes it possi-
ble to identify each child’s zone of proximal development (ZPD), which is
“the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by
independent problem solving and the level of potential development as
determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collabora-
tion with more capable peers” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86).

Classifying the ZPD is vital for teachers because it determines where to
place educational emphasis. Scaffolding, or assistance from a more skilled
other, facilitates learning at the “higher” end of the zone. In other words,
behaviors by the more skilled partner contribute to acquiring skills that
were outside of the child’s independent level of functioning.

Another component of attending entails recognizing ecological fac-
tors from other systems that impact children’s development and learn-
ing (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1989). As discussed previously, these factors
both affect the child and are influenced by the child. Such bidirectional
influences must continually be considered by early childhood educa-
tors to recognize the active role children play in their own development.
For example, teachers must be culturally sensitive and responsive to the
way families want to raise their children. Families hold particular beliefs
that may or may not be shared by the caregiver; this should affect how
you do your work. Altering your routines and behaviors to support fam-
ily practices assists with more continuous care for very young children
(Gonzalez-Mena, 2001).

In general, what we attend to matters. As early as 3 months of age,
infants follow the head turn of an adult, disengaging from what they had
been attending to and shifting their attention to what the adult is attending

zone of proximal development
(ZPD) Vygotsky’s term for a
range of tasks that a child is
developmentally ready to learn.

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to (Perra & Gattis, 2010). Thus, adults can influence what an infant attends
to in very subtle ways. What we attend to also communicates to us and
others ideas regarding the meaning or value of particular behaviors while
influencing the very behavior we are examining. Matusov, DePalma, and
Drye (2007) suggest that, from a sociocultural perspective, the observer
directly and indirectly influences the development of the observed by how
the behavior is thought and talked about.

To illustrate, Kemit takes a while each morning to join the group. He
likes to watch the fish before selecting an independent activity. After he
has played alone for 10–12 minutes, he usually selects to work with one of
his friends. When the caregiver, Trace, speaks with Kemit’s grandmother
at pick-up time, he often expresses concern about Kemit being “shy.”
Kemit’s grandmother, who initially felt this behavior was acceptable and
reflective of Kemit’s way of doing things, becomes worried. So she works
with Trace to create a plan for helping Kemit transition to school “more
smoothly.” In this example, Trace has altered Kemit’s grandmother’s view
of Kemit and her expectations for his behavior. By setting up this tran-
sition plan, they are directly changing Kemit’s development. They are
communicating to Kemit that working alone is not acceptable and that he
should be more interactive with peers. Although these are not detrimental
outcomes by any means, it does seem to be disrespectful of who Kemit is
as a person.

Thus, we must continually remember that what we attend to matters
because it alters the course of development for children—positively or
negatively.

4-2b Approval
Approval from others teaches us to approve of ourselves. The best type of
attention is approval. Approval of another person is a clear message that
you have respect and positive regard for that person. According to the
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), respect is all
of the following:

●● To feel or show differential regard for
●● To avoid violation or interference with

respect a feeling of high
regard for someone and a
willingness to treat him or her
accordingly.

You have begun to notice that you leave your toddler
classroom each day feeling stressed and tense. Upon
reflection, you realize that you and your co-teacher
spend a great deal of your day correcting and other-
wise attending to the children’s negative behaviors.
You have also noticed that some parents consistently
focus on their child’s positive behaviors during the
often-stressful drop-off and pick-up times. You really

want to talk with the family members about how they
decide what they choose to focus on at these times,
but you are worried that you might send the message
that you are not a “knowledgeable” professional. What
questions could you ask that would help you learn
from the families, build positive relationships with
them, and maintain your sense of professionalism?

Family and Community Connection

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●● The state of being regarded with honor or esteem
●● Willingness to show consideration or appreciation

How do early childhood educators translate this multifaceted defi-
nition into their daily practice? Swim (2003) suggests that both allowing
children time to try or complete tasks and helping them to make choices
reflect respect for the children because these behaviors demonstrate
refraining from interfering with them. In addition, valuing individual chil-
dren’s ways of doing and being shows that they are held in high esteem by
the caregiver.

Educational leaders in the municipal infant/toddler and preschool pro-
grams of Reggio Emilia, Italy, take the understanding of respect to another
level. They have declared respect an educational value (Rinaldi, 2001a)
and devised the concept of the rights of children. This concept reflects
their image of the child as “rich in resources, strong, and competent. The
emphasis is placed on seeing the children as unique individuals with
rights rather than simply needs. They have potential, plasticity, openness,
the desire to grow, curiosity, a sense of wonder, and the desire to relate to
other people and to communicate” (Rinaldi, 1998, p. 114). Teachers use
their image of the child to guide their instructional decisions, curricular
planning, and interactions with children (see, e.g., Edwards, Gandini, &
Forman, 2012).

To children, approval says they have done something right, and it helps
them feel worthwhile. Approval builds trust and self-confidence, which in
turn encourage children to try new things without fear. The most impor-
tant concept a caregiver must learn is always to approve of the child as a
person, even when you disapprove of his or her behavior. For example, it
must be made clear to the child that you like who he is, but not what he is
doing right now.

Appropriate and consistent approval develops trust in the child. Trust
depends not only on the quantity (e.g., number of interactions) but also on
the quality of the caregiver’s interactions and relationships with children.
Positive approval creates a sense of trust as a result of the sensitive way
in which the caregiver takes time to care for the child’s individual needs.
Adults must convey to each child an honest concern for that child’s wel-
fare and a deep conviction that there is meaning in what he or she is doing.
Trust based on consistent, positive caring allows children to grow up with
a sense of meaningful belonging and trust.

Some caution should be exercised regarding when to give approval.
Caregivers who approve of every little behavior and shower children with
unconditional approval lose respect with them. Genuine approval for
meaningful accomplishments serves to encourage children to try harder
and helps them value their own efforts. Make sure the children have
made a genuine effort or have accomplished something of value, and your
approval will help them become the best that they can be.

4-2c Attunement
Attunement involves being aware of someone, along with her moods,
needs, and interests, and responding to all of these. In other words, when

rights of children the belief
that children do not just have
needs for adults to deal with
but rather rights to appropriate
care and education.

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you are “in tune,” you are providing high-quality care and education that
meet the individual needs, interests, and abilities of each child.

Attuned caregivers often look natural in their interactions with infants
and toddlers. However, being attuned is not instinctual for all persons.
Often, our beliefs about child rearing or parenting interfere with provid-
ing such care. For example, a strongly held belief by many parents, teach-
ers, and physicians is that responding to the cries of infants too quickly
will spoil them. Of course, as was stated previously, you cannot spoil a
young child. All of the research on attachment reviewed in this chapter
and in Chapters 1 and 3 discounts this belief. Responding sensitively to
a child’s communication strategies helps the child develop trust in his
or her caregiver; form strong, secure attachments; and grow socially and
emotionally.

Attuned caregivers devote a great deal of time to carefully observing
and recording the infants’ behaviors. In fact, the guidelines for develop-
mentally appropriate practice state that the early educator should know
each child well and learn each child’s cues (Copple et al., 2013). Then,
the adult should respond to the child’s individual characteristics so
that interactional, instructional, and caregiving strategies “. . . are caring
and specific to each child . . .” (Copple et al., 2013, p. 67, emphasis in
original). For example, Nicole knows that Tiffany, 27 months old, has
a very regular routine for eating and sleeping. Today, however, she was
not hungry right after playing outdoors and had difficulty relaxing for
a nap. Upon closer observation and questioning, Nicole came to under-
stand that Tiffany’s throat hurt. Nicole was able to use her knowledge of
Tiffany to “tune into” this change of routine and uncover the beginning
of an illness.

When caregivers engage in respectful and responsive interpersonal
interactions with infants and toddlers, they are attuned in the way
researchers use the word. They are in synchrony with the child (Isabella &
Belsky, 1991). Reading and responding to the child’s cues is crucial to
engaging in this “interactional dance.”

For example, picture caregiver Carlos feeding Judd his lunch. Judd is
hungry and eating quickly. Carlos talks about how good the food must be
for an empty stomach. He is smiling and laughing between bites. All of a
sudden, Judd begins to slow the pace. Carlos reads this behavior and slows
down his offering of food and pattern of speech. Judd smiles and turns
his head away from Carlos. Carlos pauses and waits for Judd to turn back
around. He does turn back and opens his mouth. Carlos provides another
bite of vegetables.

Perceptions, however, can get in the way of a person’s ability to be
attuned. Ghera, Hane, Malesa, and Fox (2006) found that maternal percep-
tions of infant soothability influenced the degree of maternal sensitivity.
When mothers viewed their infants as more soothable, they were able to
provide sensitive care even when the baby was displaying negative reac-
tivity. On the other hand, when mothers viewed their infants as less sooth-
able, they provided less sensitive care when their infants were displaying
negative reactivity. Similarly, foster mothers who perceived typically
developing children as requiring easier care were more sensitive to them

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as compared with children who had develop-
mental delays (Ponciano, 2012). Adopting moth-
ers, however, were found to be more sensitive
to children requiring complex care (Ponciano,
2012). As you can see from this research, per-
ceptions of the adult can influence the quality
of interactions. Therefore, early educators must
reflect on their own views of children to ensure
that they identify and remedy beliefs that could
interfere with the ability to be attuned.

When early childhood educators combine
attention, approval, and attunement, children
cannot help but respond positively (Photo 4–2).
That is why the three As are the master tools for
child development and care. You might already
use the three As without much thought about
them. Consider how you approach an unknown
infant. You get down to her level (floor, blanket,
or chair). You act calmly, move slowly, make eye
contact, enter her space, get even closer to her
physically, smile, and gently begin soft speech to
engage her. If you believe you have permission
from her to stay close, you keep eye contact and
slowly begin to inquire what she is doing, such
as playing or eating. When she gestures, you
follow the gesture with a similar response, this
time making a sound that seems to identify her
movement and keep pace. This usually elicits a
smile or giggle. Once again, you smile and make
noise. You may try gently touching a shoulder or
finger, and before long, you are accepted into the
child’s space. This slow progression of building

rapport is also the slow progression of the use of the three As. First you
give attention, then approval, and then attunement. When this is done
consciously, all involved feel worthy.

While many of these behaviors may come naturally to you, you should
spend a great deal of time thinking about them, reflecting on how you
use them, and analyzing their impact on children. How, for example, can
you use them more intentionally and effectively? Only through conscious
decision-making can you use these tools to help children develop to their
fullest extent.

The three As are powerful and rejuvenating for you as well. They elicit
responses in children that will sustain you in your vocation. One of the
most positive assurances of worthiness a caregiver can receive is the full-
body hug given unconditionally as a gift from a gleeful toddler who sweeps
down upon you when you are playing on the floor. This hug, which is
often accompanied by a loud and joyful sound, enters your space with
such focused positive energy that each of you feels the impact. The result
of this positive energy is felt by the two of you, and brings smiles to the
faces of all who observe it.

PhOTO 4–2 Children respond positively to
caregivers who use attention, approval, and
attunement in their interactions with them.

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Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. List, define, describe, and provide a specific example for each of the three As
of child care.

2. How are the three As grounded in the theoretical perspectives described in
Chapters 1, 2, and 3?

3. Why are the three As powerful tools to use when working with children?

R E A D I N G
C H E C K P O I N T

4-1 Explain the changing roles concerning
attachment for early childhood educators.
Infants can form strong, positive attachments with
a number of different people. All of these rela-
tionships evolve over time and form the founda-
tion for how the infant thinks about and engages
in relationships with others.

4-2 Understand the three As and how to use them
in interactions with very young children.
When the three As are focused on children, they
promote appropriate behaviors and enhance a

positive learning environment for children. The
caregiver structures an emotionally safe context
in which the young child explores and masters
all of his or her growing abilities by solving prob-
lems that naturally occur within the environment.
A stable, positive environment promotes trust
and confidence and allows the growing infant to
express all of his or her needs.

Summary

PhOTO 4–3 Infants and toddlers who feel safe can relax and rest peacefully.

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Rangina has been in Abebi’s class for seven months
now. Rangina’s family immigrated from Afghanistan
right before she was born. She started coming to the
child care center when she was 1 year old. The tran-
sition was difficult at first, but Rangina quickly settled
into a routine. Nap time was a particular challenge as
Rangina cried herself to sleep nearly every afternoon.
After many conversations between Abebi and Rangina’s
father, they decided that his wife would tape record
her nightly singing and playing of the Waj instrument.
When Abebi played this during nap time, the music
and singing were so soothing that they helped not
only Rangina to fall asleep but also some of the other
children.

This particular morning, Rangina came dressed in
a new embroidered kuchi-style dress with a matching
chador (head scarf). Her mother explained that they
were observing Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the first
day after the Ramadan fast. Rangina was clearly excited
about her new clothing. Abebi commented, “Your new
dress must be soft. Can I feel it?” Rangina exclaimed,

“Yes!” and hugged her. Then, Rangina danced to
another area of the classroom. Abebi noticed that she
danced from one area to another during the first half
of free choice time, and she seemed to have trouble
finding experiences to engage her. For example, she
declined to paint at the easel or draw with markers,
some of her favorite things to do. When Abebi asked
about these decisions, she would only say “No dirty.”
Abebi moved to her eye level and asked if she was
afraid to get her new clothes messy. When Rangina
replied yes, Abebi found other attractive, nonmessy
art materials for her to use. When it was story time,
Rangina began to run around the room. Abebi decided
that a game of follow the leader might be best, and she
invited Rangina to be the first leader.

1. From the case study, what do you think is the most
important tool Abebi used with Rangina? Why?

2. How did Abebi’s relationship with Rangina’s par-
ents help her to be more responsive to Rangina?

3. How does interactional synchrony apply to this
case study?

Responding to Rangina’s Diverse NeedsC A S E S T u D Y

Lesson Plan
Title: What do you need?
Child Observation:

Noor is 4 months old and just started in your class-
room. She and her family finished the inserimento
period (see Chapter 6), and she started full-time last
week. Her father told you that she typically takes a
2-hour morning nap. So far, she hasn’t slept more than
20 minutes at a time.

Child’s Developmental Goal:

To develop positive attachment to the caregiver

To be soothed by another

Materials: Child’s favorite “lovie” (e.g., blanket,
stuffed animal)

Preparation: None.

Learning Environment:

1. When you notice Noor getting tired, gather her
favorite animal blanket and pacifier. Talk with her
about what you are doing and why. For example,
you could say:

“You are getting tired. I think you would like
your bear blanket. Isn’t that soft?”

2. Take her to a comfortable spot in the classroom
where you can still supervise and interact with the
other children, if necessary.

3. While getting situated, respond to her behaviors.
To illustrate, if she yawns, you could say:

“You are really tired. It is nap time. Do you want
your pacifier?” Judge her response to the question
and respond accordingly.

4. Using information her parents provided, sing her
favorite song while holding her in her preferred
way (i.e., with her head on your shoulder).

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

Additional Resources
Gray, D. D. (2014). Attaching through love, hugs and

play: Simple strategies to help build connections
with your child. London, England: Jessica Kingsley
Publishing.

Hughes, D. A. (2009). Attachment-focused parenting:
Effective strategies to care for children. New York:
W.W. Norton & Co.

Krechevsky, M., Mardell, B., Rivard, M., & Wilson, D.
(2013). Visible learners: Promoting Reggio-inspired
approaches in all schools. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.

Newton, R. P. (2008). The attachment connection: Par-
enting a secure & confident child using the science
of attachment theory. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger
Publications.

Raikes, H. H., & Edwards, C. P. (2009). Extending the
dance in infant and toddler caregiving. Baltimore,
MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

5. Because she is having trouble staying asleep, hold

her as long as possible before putting her in her
crib.

Guidance Consideration:

If Noor does not respond to your caregiving by relax-
ing and falling asleep, you might need to consider
other aspects of the environment that need to be

altered. For example, could the comfortable spot be
located to a part of the room that can be darkened?
Or, would soothing music be more comforting than
your singing?

Variations:

Be responsive to Noor’s needs when she is hungry or
wants to play.

Professional Resource Download

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© 2017 Cengage Learning

C h a p t e r

Effective Preparation and Tools

Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

5-1 Describe the characteristics necessary to
become a competent caregiver.

5-2 Specify the various types of knowledge,
skills, and dispositions professional
educators should possess.

5-3 Defend the importance of formal
educational experiences for teachers
on child outcomes.

5-4 Justify how to match observational tools
with your data needs.

Standards Addressed
in This Chapter

NaeYC Standards
for early Childhood professional
preparation

3 Observing, Documenting, and Assessing
to Support Young Children and Families

6 Becoming a Professional

Developmentally appropriate
practice Guidelines

4 Assessing Children’s Development and
Learning

In addition, the NAEYC standards for develop-
mentally appropriate practice are divided into
six areas particularly important to infant/toddler
care. The following area is addressed in this
chapter: policies.

5

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The heart and soul of excellent care and education are people and the tools
they use in supporting the development of young children. This chapter
provides specific, effective tools that enhance development. The early
childhood educator should practice using each of the tools in this chapter
from the developmental perspective that was described previously. Careful
assessment of infants and toddlers is an essential starting point for profes-
sional child care. Recording specific, descriptive observations on an ongo-
ing basis and then using that information to inform educational decisions
ensures optimal growth and development for the infants and toddlers in
your care.

5-1 Characteristics of a Competent
Early Childhood Educator
As you learned in Chapter 4, it is essential for caregivers to take good care
of young children’s physical and mental health. They also need to take care
of their own needs. Therefore, the first tools we will examine are those
related to your professional preparation as a caregiver.

5-1a physically and Mentally healthy
Physical health is necessary to provide the high energy level needed in
caregiving. Good health is also necessary to resist the variety of illnesses
to which you are exposed. The importance of a healthy staff is reflected
in state child care regulations. From Alabama to Indiana to Delaware to
Wyoming, prospective teachers must provide evidence of being in good
physical health and free from active tuberculosis to gain and remain
employed in a child care setting. These policies were created to protect
adults as well as the children.

In your daily relationships, you must provide physical closeness and
nurturing for an extended time, give emotionally more than you receive, be
patient and resolve conflicts caused by someone else, and calm one child
right after you have been frustrated with another. Emotionally stable teach-
ers have learned how to handle a variety of emotional demands in their
daily experiences and how to encourage greater mental health in others.

5-1b positive Self-Image
Your feelings of self-confidence and positive self-worth show that you
believe in yourself. This gives you the strength to take risks, solve prob-
lems, consider alternatives, and make decisions in situations where there
may be no obvious correct answer. Your observations, perceptions, and
knowledge base are all sources of information you can use in evaluating
situations and making decisions. Awareness of your expectations and those
of children help you remain open minded. Your decisions may not always
be accurate or appropriate because they are based on incomplete informa-
tion. Admit this, reevaluate the data or gather more information, and make
a new decision. Doing so helps you continue to grow professionally and
enhances your self-image as a competent caregiver.

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5-1c Caring and respectful
There is pleasure, enjoyment, and satisfaction in
providing effective, high-quality care (Photo 5–1).
Although some tasks may be difficult, unpleas-
ant, or repetitious, your accepting behavior and
considerate treatment shows that you value meet-
ing the children’s needs. They are worthy of your
time and effort because they are important peo-
ple. When early childhood educators reflect car-
ing feelings to the children, families, and other
staff members, they can build better partnerships,
but it is more than that. According to Noddings
(2002, 2005), human-to-human caring relation-
ships for self, others, and community are the core
that can bring social justice and caring together
for world survival.

Professionals
Caregiving is an essential profession that should
receive more respect. You provide a very impor-
tant service to children, families, and the com-
munity. The care you provide directly affects
children at critical times in their lives. You have
great influence and importance in the child’s life
and must be rational and objective in your deci-
sions and actions.

Striving to do your best is essential for high-
quality caregiving. Read, study, visit, observe,

and talk with other early childhood educators. Hargreaves and Fullen
(2012) suggest that professional capital is built when teachers work
together to analyze episodes of teaching and learning. In turn, teachers’
increased professional capital maximizes program effectiveness. Ongoing
learning is vital because professional knowledge is not static; you will
never finish learning everything you need to know to be an effective care-
giver. New information and experiences lead to new insights, understand-
ing, and skills. Openness to learning helps you seek new ideas and take
advantage of new opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills. Pro-
fessional educators value and therefore set aside time for frequent and sys-
tematic reflection on their work. What plans do you have to learn more
about yourself, children, teaching, and your program?

5-2 Acquiring Professional Knowledge,
Skills, and Dispositions
Before you start learning about children, families, and the field of early
childhood education, you need to understand more about yourself. Why
do you want to be an early childhood educator? What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses? What are your interests? What are your

professional capital assets
that add to the long-term
worth of each professional
and the education profession;
comprised of human, social, and
decisional capital.

PhOTO 5–1 The caregiver develops skill in working
with children and gains satisfaction from interacting
with them.

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values? What are your expectations of yourself and others? Are you will-
ing to put forth effort to satisfy yourself and others? How much time and
effort do you think is appropriate to put into caregiving? Consider the
results of research by Izumi-Taylor, Lee, and Franceschini (2011) which
found that early childhood teachers in the United States believed more
strongly that infants should be cared for by a parent than did similar edu-
cators in Japan. How might those beliefs impact interactions with chil-
dren and families?

Research has been conducted on the link between beliefs and classroom
behaviors. Teachers who self-identified as “tone-deaf” were equally likely
to engage in singing with young children in their classroom. However,
they reported greater feelings of being self-conscious when singing and
more often altered their singing behavior (Swain & Bodkin-Allen, 2014).
Relatedly, when early childhood teachers were asked to rate their perceived
competence in each of the content areas, they reported significantly less
competence in various art strands (e.g., drama, dance; Garvis & Pendergast,
2011). These researchers then discovered that those who reported less
competence were less likely to regularly engage with the various art strands
in their classrooms.

What are your beliefs about these topics, and how do you think they
impact your interactions with children and families?

5-2a Knowledge about Children and Families
Child development research continuously provides new information
about children. The information helps identify each child’s individual
characteristics and levels of development. Your knowledge of physical,
emotional, social, and cognitive development patterns influences how
you plan for and interact with children. Yet, because children do not live
in isolation, teachers must also learn about each individual family they’re
working with.

Each family situation is unique and affects your caregiving. As a care-
giver, you can expect families to represent a great deal of diversity: single
parent, grandparent as head of household, gay/lesbian parents, homeless
families, and adoptive families with Caucasian parents and Asian chil-
dren. Preservice teachers were found to hold deficit perspectives about
homeless children and families (Kim, 2013). Fortunately, sustained inter-
actions with children and families in homeless shelters caused the pre-
service teachers to reexamine their views about young homeless children
and their families and positively develop their professional perspectives
on the children.

You will work with families that reflect your own culture and those
that are different from it. You should continually seek information from
and maintain communication with family members. Families have special
needs, desires, and expectations of themselves, their children, and you.

5-2b Knowledge about early Child Care and education
Developmentally appropriate practice (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Copple
et al., 2013) encompasses emotional interaction, instructional planning, and

developmentally appropriate
practice process of making
educational decisions about
the well-being and education
of young children based on
information or knowledge
about child development and
learning; the needs, interests,
and strengths of each individual
child in the group; and the social
and cultural contexts in which
the individual children live.

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various types of teaching and learning techniques involving children, fami-
lies, colleagues, and the community. How do we create experiences that are
responsive to the needs of toddlers? How do we identify which materials are
appropriate for the various development levels of infants? Answers to these
questions, while not always straightforward, can be found in a number of
sources, including licensing laws and accreditation standards. State or
county agencies design licensing regulations to standardize the care and
education of young children in group settings in both home- and center-based
programs. These regulations govern such things as teacher-child ratios,
space, safety and health requirements, fire codes, and zoning ordinances.
Licensing identifies a set of minimum standards that the program meets; it
does not guarantee quality of care. However, many states, such as Indiana,
are working to include important characteristics of quality programming in
their licensing regulations. In addition, many states have created early learn-
ing standards as a way to help teachers appropriately focus their attention
on development and learning.

The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) and the
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC),
respectively, have well-established accreditation programs for family child
care programs and center-based care. Accreditation standards are signifi-
cantly more stringent than licensing regulations and serve to recognize
high-quality programs that meet the physical, social, emotional, and cogni-
tive development of children as well as the needs of the families being
served.

Becoming familiar with licensing regulations, early learning guide-
lines, and accreditation standards is a necessary but insufficient condition
for being a professional early childhood educator. Teachers should have
time set aside each day to reflect on and analyze the events of the day. This
slow, contemplative time away from children and other responsibilities
can significantly increase knowledge of the profession. This time can be
used individually, in small groups of teaching teams, in small groups by
teaching levels (e.g., all infant teachers), and in a large group of all teachers
in the program. According to Whitington, Thompson, and Shore (2014),
this time should be:

… regarded as a way of further engaging with the challenges they face on a daily
basis, rather than another work requirement. Teachers need to accept the uncer-
tainty that professional learning brings, and allow themselves slow time to think
and learn about professional practice. (p. 71)

Time should be devoted to clarifying the various roles that teachers of
infants and toddlers play on a daily basis. You will need to balance these
many roles to provide high-quality care and education. Understanding
the responsibilities of the various hats you wear will help determine your
strengths and how to increase knowledge and personal growth. Learn more
about the various responsibilities by reading and discussing NAEYC’s Code
of Ethical Conduct (NAEYC, 2011b) with colleagues. This document, cre-
ated with significant input from teachers working directly with young chil-
dren, provides guidance on balancing and resolving any conflicts among
your professional responsibilities.

licensing regulations Official
rules on teacher-child ratios,
safety, health, and zoning that
an individual or organization
must follow to be granted a
license to provide care for
children.

NaFCC an association offering
professional recognition and
distinction to family child
care providers whose services
represent high-quality child
care.

NaeYC a professional
organization that offers
professional resources
and development for early
childhood educators, as well as
recognition for programs that
represent high-quality care.

accreditation process of
demonstrating and validating
the presence of indicators of
quality as set out by national
standards.

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5-2c Knowledge about
partnerships
Early childhood educators cannot
work in isolation and provide high-
quality care (Bove, 2001; Colombo,
2006; Copple & Bredekamp, 2009).
Partnerships with families, col-
leagues, and community agencies
are a must. Family members possess
knowledge about the child that you
often do not have access to, unless
you ask. Do not expect the process
of building relationships to be
smooth and unidirectional—it is
more often bumpy and met with fre-
quent starts and stops (Hadley,
2014). However, everyone benefits
when teachers consistently pursue
reciprocal or bidirectional relation-
ships with families because infor-
mation flows freely, and better
decisions can be made (Sewell,
2012). Colleagues are also invaluable resources whether you have worked
in the early childhood profession five minutes, five months, or five years.
Chapter 7 devotes significant space to building professional relationships
with family members and colleagues.

Partnerships with community agencies and organizations will add value
and resources to your program (see, e.g., Friedman, 2007) (Photo 5–2). The
number and type of agencies you form partnerships with will be determined
by the characteristics of your families and community. When children or
families have specific needs, such as speech, mental health, or nutritional,
help them locate services in the community. Another great community
resource is your local public library. Introduce yourself to both the chil-
dren’s librarian and the adults’ librarians. They can offer assistance with
books, websites, magazines, and journals to help you stay on top of the
dynamic field of early childhood education. Some librarians will bring their
resources directly to you and the children, providing story hour in the class-
room. They can also apprise you of state and federal funding sources. Many
communities have city- or county-wide consortiums that can offer educators
services such as mentoring or educational opportunities. Moreover, do not
forget to participate in your local and state Association for the Education of
Young Children. Networking through those organizations can provide addi-
tional avenues for partnerships.

5-2d Knowledge about advocacy
Professionals employ informal advocacy strategies in their daily work with
children and families. As mentioned previously, every time you interact
with family members, colleagues, and community members, you are a

partnerships alliances
with family and community
members to support and
enhance the well-being and
learning of young children.

PhOTO 5–2 Seek partnerships with other agencies when a child
is suspected of needing specialized educational services.

©
2

01
7

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teacher-leader. Careful consideration must be given to your practices, as
others look to you for examples of how to treat infants and toddlers. Engag-
ing in developmentally appropriate practice, for example, demonstrates
your beliefs about the capabilities of children and your positive influence
on their development and learning. Your dedication to engaging in and
sharing professional knowledge and practices makes you an advocate for
young children, families, and the early childhood profession as a whole.

Formal advocacy involves working with parents, community members,
other professional organizations, and even policy makers to improve the
lives of children and families and the early childhood profession. Learning
to be an effective advocate takes time, dedication, and the acquisition of
skills (NAEYC, 2005; Robinson & Stark, 2005). But don’t worry because
many organizations provide resources to assist you in acquiring or honing
advocacy skills. Table 5–1 provides a sample of such resources. Children
continue to benefit when teachers help parents learn to be advocates, espe-
cially for children identified with special rights (Wright & Taylor, 2014).

5-2e professional Skills
Early childhood educators must possess a variety of skills related to car-
ing and educating infants and toddlers. Teachers should employ proper
strategies for routine activities such as diapering and feeding. They need
to learn and implement each child’s preferred strategies for being soothed
and put to sleep. Regarding instructional strategies, infant-toddler teachers
should possess the skills to gather data, analyze it, and plan responsive
curriculum. In addition, they should be able to facilitate development in
all domains and learning in each content area. Information on these skills
will be discussed in Chapters 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, and 14.

5-2f professional Dispositions
Dispositions are not merely positive beliefs and actions (such as curiosity
or generosity) or negative beliefs and actions (such as arguing or devaluing
children). Rather, they are frequent and voluntary habits of thinking and
doing. Murrell, Diez, Feiman-Nemser, and Schussler (2010) expand this
definition by adding that dispositions represent a particular orientation to
the work and responsibilities of teaching. In other words, dispositions
result in the motivation to put beliefs into action so that commitments and

disposition Frequent and
voluntary habits of thinking
and doing that represent a
particular orientation to the
work and responsibilities of
teaching.

TABLE 5–1 ◗ Brief List of Organizations That Provide Advocacy Resources
and Support

National association for the education of
Young children

the National children’s advocacy center

First candle child Welfare League of america

the child advocate children’s Defense Fund

National association of child care resource
and referral agencies

the Immigrant child advocacy center

©
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habits of thought are visible in decisions, practices, leadership, and advo-
cacy (Swim & Isik-Ercan, 2013).

Positive professional dispositions develop over time as teachers ana-
lyze their knowledge and experiences and intentionally bump into an event
or belief that provokes a need to resolve one’s own disequilibrium about a
learning event (Swim & Merz, in press). For example, Terrance (continuity
of care teacher) was attending to DeVonta’s (21 months) desire to paint by
refilling the green paint container when Sarina (13 months) started to cry.
He immediately began to talk to Sarina from across the room in a soothing
voice, could see that she was upset (not hurt), and invited her to join him.
She moved by his side, and he continued to sooth her verbally. Terrance
thought his response to both children was effective. Later, his co-teacher
questioned why he didn’t stop filling the paint container when Sarina
“demonstrated a clear communication.” This caused Terrance to question
his decision, which made him feel uncomfortable. After reflecting and
analyzing the situation from a number of different perspectives, Terrance
decided his course of action was acceptable and met both children’s needs.
He decided to have additional conversations with his co-teacher to better
understand her analysis of the situation. Engaging in this reflective process
over time leads to the development of professional dispositions in which
the educator is responsive and intentional, as well as an advocate for each
and every child (Swim & Merz, in press). Using a critical lens during this
reflective process can transform not only dispositions but also understand-
ing of young children, theories, and practices in early childhood education
(Anderson, 2014).

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. What important knowledge bases, skills, and dispositions should professional
educators have? Why?

2. How do partnerships with families and community agencies help to promote
the development and well-being of very young children?

3. Discuss with someone your understanding of the concept “developmentally
appropriate practice.” How can you learn more about this construct?

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

5-3 Professional Preparation of the Early
Childhood Educator
Both informal and formal educational opportunities are available to teach-
ers of infants and toddlers. Informal experiences may be spontaneous or
planned. A magazine article may stimulate your thinking by providing
new information and raising questions. You may take time to do further
thinking and discuss your ideas with colleagues, or you may think of the
ideas periodically and begin changing your caregiving practices to incor-
porate what you have learned.

Formal educational opportunities are those that are planned to meet
specific goals. You choose experiences to gain important knowledge and

105chapter 5 effective preparation and tools

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skills. The following learning opportunities can contribute to your profes-
sional preparation:

●● Work with a mentor or more-experienced caregiver. This person assists
you with observing, reflecting on, and discussing effective techniques.

●● Attend workshops, seminars, speakers, or continuing education courses.
These may be sponsored by many different agencies, but they usually
focus on a single topic or skill.

●● Complete vocational school courses and programs in child care.
●● Finish community college and university courses in early childhood

education and/or child development.
●● Acquire a Child Development Associate Certificate. The Child

Development Associate (CDA) is an entry-level certification which
communicates that the person holding it meets the specific needs of
children and works with parents and other adults to nurture children’s
physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth in a child develop-
ment framework. “Becoming a CDA is a process that you work at, learn,
and nurture until it grows from within. It is a process by which you
grow as an individual and as a professional” (Council for Professional
Recognition, 2010).

●● Complete early childhood education degrees. Associate, bachelor’s, mas-
ter’s, and doctorate degrees can be completed at colleges or universities.
NAEYC (2011a) created guidelines for the educational preparation of
teachers based on seven core standards and a common set of professional
knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Table 5–2 demonstrates the overlap
of the CDA and NAEYC core standards. While the table signifies a great
deal of shared vision for professional preparation, the expectations of
teachers increase with each level of education attained (NAEYC, 2009).

5-3a Impact of teacher education
on Quality of Care and education
Does teacher preparation make a difference in the quality of care and
education provided and child outcomes? Evidence is mounting that it
does; after conducting a review of the literature, Hall-Kenyon, Bullough,
MacKay, and Marshall (2014) concluded that “… higher levels of education

Child Development associate
(CDa) a credential provided by
the council for early childhood
professional recognition
when a person has provided
evidence of meeting the
national standards for caregiver
performance.

WOrLD assOcIatION FOr INFaNt
MeNtaL heaLth

The World Association for Infant Mental Health
(WAIMH) is a professional organization whose mis-
sion is to promote education, research, and study of
the effects of mental, emotional, and social devel-
opment during infancy and on later development.

They support their mission through international
and interdisciplinary cooperation, professional pub-
lications, and professional meetings (which they call
congresses). They also have affiliates throughout the
world and within several states in the United States.
For a listing of affiliates and to learn more about this
organization, visit its website.

Spotlight on Organization

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

lead to higher quality classrooms” (p. 156). However, differences in vari-
ables studied and research methodologies make the answer to this ques-
tion far from definitive (Hyson, Horm,  & Winton, 2012; Washington,
2008). Head Start Teachers with higher educational levels were found to
significantly impact the development of early math skills for immigrant
preschool children (Kim, Chang, & Kim, 2011). Teachers who participate
in learning experiences that reflect developmentally appropriate prac-
tices during their teacher-preparation program expressed more confidence
in transforming curriculum from inappropriate to appropriate (Cunning-
ham, 2014). Research on elementary teacher-preparation programs have
found that those with a stronger practice focus (e.g., stronger supervision
of student teaching and a practice-focused capstone project) had better
outcomes, at least during their first year of teaching (Boyd, Grossman,
Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2009). In other samples, teachers with the
greatest knowledge of developmentally appropriate practice had academic
training in early childhood education and/or child development as well
as supervised practical experience with young children (Buchanan, Burts,
Bidner, White, & Charlesworth, 1998; McMullen, 1999; Snider & Fu, 1990).
Taken together, these results suggest that higher levels of specialized (i.e.,
early childhood) education and specifically designed learning experiences
during teacher-preparation programs influence practices employed with
young children.

Do particular practices have a positive effect on child outcomes?
Again, investigations have shown the positive impact of teachers’ engaging
in developmentally appropriate practices. For example, cross-cultural
comparisons found that children in classrooms with more child-initiated
activities and small group activities (e.g., two important components of
developmentally appropriate practices) had improved language and
cognitive performance (Montie, Xiang, & Schweinhart, 2006). Similarly,
low-income children in classrooms that balanced both child-initiated
activities and small group activities engaged in more language, literacy, and
math activities and had higher language scores (Fuligni, Howes, Huang,
Hong, & Lara-Cinisomo, 2012). Children whose teachers used approaches
that fit their level of development had significantly higher letter-word
identification and applied problem solving (Huffman  & Speer, 2000)
than those children whose teachers used developmentally inappropriate
practices. Moreover, children who experienced preschool programs that
were characterized by more active, child-initiated learning experiences
(i.e., developmentally appropriate) had more success in their sixth year of
school (Marcon, 2002). While the research reviewed in this section shows
positive effects on child development when teachers engage in child-
centered practices, these findings are not without controversy (see, e.g.,
Van Horn, Karlin, & Ramey, 2012; Van Horn, Karlin, Ramey, Aldridge, &
Snyder, 2005).

The results discussed were for older children; how does research on
Early Head Start help inform teachers’ practices? Early Head Start pro-
grams have great variability in program quality (Love, Raikes, Paulsell, &
Kisker, 2004) and child outcomes (Cline & Edwards, 2013; Raikes, Love,
Kisker, Chazan-Cohen, & Brooks-Gunn, 2004; Raikes et al., 2014). This

108 part 1 Understanding the Foundations of professional education

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variation could be due to the complex influence of teacher characteris-
tics, participant characteristics (e.g., race, mental health), and program
characteristics (e.g., home- or center-based) (see, e.g., Elicker, Wen,
Kwon,  & Sprague, 2013; Harden, Sandstrom,  & Chazan-Cohen, 2012;
Jung & Stone, 2008). All in all, this research indicates that higher levels
of education and experience for the caregiver are associated with more
appropriate practices with young children, and those are related to better
child outcomes.

Because teachers of infants and toddlers are more likely to have
lower levels of education than teachers of older children (Berthelsen,
Brownlee, & Boulton-Lewis, 2002), and the early years are critical to brain
development (see Chapters 1 and 2), we can no longer ignore the links
among education, developmentally appropriate practice, and child out-
comes. While this may seem obvious, learning to be a teacher of infants
and toddlers poses particular challenges not found with teaching other
ages. Infants and toddlers have special developmental needs. Here are four
reasons to support that claim.

1. As discussed in Chapters 2 and 3, this period of growth and devel-
opment is rapid—noticeable changes occur monthly, weekly, and, in
some cases, daily.

2. Physical, social, emotional, and cognitive developments are more inter-
related for infants than for older children.

3. Infants are more dependent upon a consistent relationship with a care-
giver to meet all of their needs.

4. Infants have no effective skills for coping with discomfort and stress, so
they are more open to harm (Gunnar, 2006; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000)
or abuse (Casanueva et al., 2014; Simonnet et al., 2014).

Many of these issues were highlighted by beginning teachers as chal-
lenges. Recchia and Loizou (2002) found that for teachers in their sample,
adjusting to the physical and emotional intensity of nurturing very young
children, setting limits and guiding the behavior of toddlers, and collabo-
rating with others to ensure continuity of care were particular issues. This
line of research, then, highlights the need for infant and toddler caregivers
to receive specialized education, mentoring, and ongoing support during
the early years of teaching.

As a family child care provider, you value growing as a
professional. You recently graduated with an associate
of science degree in Early Childhood Education from
a local community college. You plan to take a year off
before pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the same field.
Your accreditation mentor mentions that the local
Association for the Education of Young Children’s

conference is coming up soon. Specifically, they need
providers to present on issues related to family child
care. You are interested but apprehensive—“What
could I talk about?” you wonder. What can you do to
learn more about what is expected of presenters? How
could you involve other family child care providers
you know in delivering sessions at the conference?

Family and Community Connection

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5-4 Observing young Children to Make
Educational Decisions
The previous chapters have laid the groundwork for taking a scholarly
approach to your work with infants and toddlers. You cannot, for exam-
ple, plan appropriate curriculum or be attuned to a toddler if you have
not observed what the child is trying to accomplish. Yet, early childhood
educators are not in the business of testing children (NAEYC, 2003). Care
should be taken to act prudently in this age of testing and judging children.
You should pay close attention to why you are gathering the data, how you
gathered it, and how to analyze it. Then, careful attention must be placed
on how you use the data. This approach can be referred to as scholarly.

Scholars or researchers—like young children—are curious and inquis-
itive; they think, wonder, and ask lots of questions. They also gather data
to answer their questions. What do you wonder about infants and tod-
dlers? Use your curiosity to drive, inspire, and sustain your work because,
according to Maguire-Fong (2006), “Curious infants do best when matched
with curious adults who are just as intent in their desire to learn about the
infants in their care as the infants are to learn about the world before them”
(p. 118). This section will provide you with knowledge, skills, and tools for
gathering data about infants and toddlers.

5-4a Observe and record
Why Observe?
Observations provide important information needed for decision-making
and communicating with others. Planning a responsive, developmentally
appropriate curriculum requires specific, detailed knowledge about each
child in your care. Observation occurs before, during, and after your expe-
riences with young children. This creates a continuous loop of observing,
planning, implementing, observing, and so on (see Chapter 9 for more
details).

Observations that include details of your own behavior, the curricu-
lum, the materials, and the physical environment can provide particularly
important information that is often overlooked. You may have observed
that on Tuesday Jessica cried for ten minutes after being separated from her
father. Including the fact that her father and primary caregiver were unable
to locate her transitional object (a stuffed elephant) that day would help to
explain her sudden, intense reaction to being separated.

In addition, effective communication with families, colleagues, and other
professionals requires that you provide thorough reports (written and verbal)

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. Name at least five different experiences that early childhood professionals can
have that result in the growth of their professional knowledge and skills.

2. How does formal and informal education help early childhood teachers to be
more effective in their various roles?

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

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of what you observed. Making global or general statements without specific
examples can break down communication rather than support it.

Who to Observe?
Each child in your care needs to be observed. All program plans and imple-
mentations start with what the teacher knows about each child and family.
Setting aside time each day to observe each child provides you with a
wealth of information. Observing how families interact with children and
adults helps teachers plan responsive curriculum. However, because fam-
ily members participate to varying degrees in a child care program, you
might have more information on one or two members rather than all who
have a significant impact on the child.

What to Observe?
Children’s behavior helps us learn about them. Infants and toddlers often
cannot use words to tell about themselves. Each child is unique. Early
childhood educators must identify the characteristics and needs of each
child because the child is the focal point of decisions and plans regard-
ing time, space, and curriculum. Each child is continuously changing. This
growth and development produces expected and sometimes unexpected
changes. Living with someone every day, you may not notice some impor-
tant, emerging developments. Therefore, it is important to make periodic
informal and formal observations and to record them so that the changes in
the child can be noted and shared. This information will affect your plans
for, and interactions with, the child.

A caregiver’s behavior provides needed information to analyze the
child’s behavior as well as her own behavior. You should record how you
assisted the children with accomplishing a new skill or task. Vygotsky’s
theory (discussed in Chapter 1) necessitates that data be gathered on both
the independent level of performance and the assisted level of perfor-
mance. Teachers also need to gather data to improve their own practices
and effectiveness as caregivers. For example, Ms. Josephine wanted to
involve Monroe more when she shared a book with him. She selected a
book she thought he would like and wrote down three questions to ask
Monroe that would focus his thinking and questioning on objects from
the book. She set up a digital audio recorder where she and Monroe
would be sitting and invited Monroe over to share the book. Later, when
Ms. Josephine listened to the audio, she discovered that she had talked all
the time and told everything to Monroe rather than allowing him to talk,
share, and question. Observations like these provide information about
the kind of responses one person has to another person, showing if the
desired interaction was stimulated or inhibited.

The entire child care setting, including equipment, materials, and
arrangement of space, should be examined to determine their impact on
children. Look at who is using what space and how it is being used to deter-
mine whether the space is being used effectively. Ask yourself questions
such as, is the addition of musical instruments near the art area having a
positive influence on the work being accomplished by the older infants?
Additionally, children can impact their own outcomes or the outcomes of
other children. Do toddlers, for example, cause disruptions to others who

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are reading because they have to walk through the area to get to the bath-
room? After you gather data to answer your question, respond to what you
find by making necessary adjustments.

Every early childhood professional is learning and continually devel-
oping skills. One caregiver may observe another one to learn new strat-
egies or to reinforce those she already uses. Other people’s observations
can let caregivers know whether their actual practice matches the behav-
ior intended. Ongoing evaluation and reflection, along with feedback, can
help caregivers increase their effectiveness.

Why Record?
Making observations without having a method for recording your data
is inviting trouble. You may work with between 6 and 12 different chil-
dren throughout the course of a day and make hundreds of observations.
If you don’t write down the important ones, you run the risk of incor-
rectly remembering what you saw or attributing skills or development to
the wrong child. In addition, infants and toddlers change quickly. They
add skills on a daily basis, so failing to record them might mean missing
this accomplishment altogether. Moreover, teachers, like young children,
elaborate—add additional information based on previous knowledge and
assumptions—to fill in any gaps (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013). Thus, you

may “see” something that really didn’t happen
but fits with what you already know about the
child. These examples should help you under-
stand the importance of recording what you
observed as quickly as you can. The following
section provides guidance on methods of observ-
ing and recording.

5-4b tools for Observing and recording
Observations may be spontaneous or planned,
but they must be ongoing and regular. You may
glance across the room and see Sammy roll over.
This the first time you have seen that happen.
You record this example in his portfolio and/or
home-school journal. Other times, a staff member
will arrange to spend a few minutes specifically
observing a child, materials, or space (Photo 5–3).
These observations can provide valuable informa-
tion. Because infants and many toddlers cannot
tell us in words what they have learned, we must
attend carefully to their behaviors for clues. Writ-
ing what you observe gives you and other people
access to that information later on.

Descriptions may be brief or very detailed and
extensive. In either case, the focus is on reporting
the exact behavior or situation in narrative form.
You must learn to distinguish descriptive and

PhOTO 5–3 Recording your observations are
important caregiver behaviors.

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interpretative phrasing. Descriptive phrasing, the preferred type for report-
ing observations, involves using words or phrases to describe observable
behaviors, that is, behaviors that another observer (or reader) could easily
verify. On the other hand, interpretative phrasing makes a judgment or eval-
uation but gives little or no observable data to justify the conclusions (Marion,
2004). An example of interpretative phrasing is, “Eva refused to eat her cereal
at breakfast.” The reader has no way to verify the word refused in this
description of this meal. Compare that to the following: “Eva sat in her chair
with her eyes squinted, mouth pursed, and her arms crossed. She stated, ‘No,
oatmeal’ and pushed her bowl away from her. I offered her a banana, and she
smiled and nodded ‘yes.’ She ate the entire banana and drank her milk.” The
difference in language is important because evaluative or interpretative
phrasing is “emotionally loaded” and often leads to misunderstandings,
whereas factual, descriptive statements can rarely be disputed.

Early childhood teachers can use three main categories of tools to
observe and record the behaviors of young children: narratives (i.e., run-
ning and anecdotal records), checklists and rating scales, and authentic
documentation. The first two methods are narrative because you observe
an interesting incident and record essential details to tell a story.

Narrative
Running records are long narratives. They tell a story as it unfolds over a
significant period of time for a child, a group, or an activity (Marion, 2004).
This tool is useful for learning about child development. When you focus
your attention on a child for a specific time period, say an hour, you can
gather valuable information that might otherwise go unnoticed. Due to
time considerations, running records are rarely used spontaneously. Teach-
ers create schedules to routinely observe the development and behavior of
every infant and toddler. Running records are closely related to an ethno-
graphic report because they describe a total situation. An ethnographic
report describes a total situation: the time, place, people, and how the peo-
ple behave. A description of the total situation lets the reader know about
things that may not be evident in just one part of a specific incident.

Adults unfamiliar with infants and toddlers may think that a young
child does not do anything. An early education student observed the
behaviors described in Table 5–3 during outdoor play in a family child
care home one summer afternoon. She was to focus on one child and write
down everything she saw and heard that child do and say. The purpose of
this assignment was to identify and categorize the various experiences ini-
tiated by a 13-month-old child. The observer was not to interject her own
interpretations into the narrative.

An anecdotal record is a brief narrative of one event. As the definition
implies, you look for or notice one event and then write a short story about
it. Anecdotal records are great for understanding individual child charac-
teristics and how contextual variables impact the learning, development,
and behavior of a child. With spontaneous anecdotal records, something
happens that you did not anticipate, but that you want to record for possi-
ble use later. For example, you have planned to watch Julio’s interactions
with peers today, but he is sick. You then notice how Thomas John and

descriptive phrasing A
technique for reporting
observations that involves
using words or phrases to
describe observable behaviors.

interpretative phrasing A
form of reporting that makes
judgments without providing
observable data to justify the
conclusions.

running record A long
narrative account of a
significant period of time for
a child, a group, or an activity
written using descriptive
language.

anecdotal record A brief
narrative account of one event
written using descriptive
language.

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Erika were sharing the space and materials while in the block area. You
record the anecdotal record shown in Table 5–4.

Checklists and Rating Scales
Checklists and rating scales are quick, efficient tools for gathering data.
They bypass details and merely check or rate development and progress
(Marion, 2004). They can be used to gather data on specific behaviors that

TABLE 5–3 ◗ Running Record with Observational Data

coNtext
oBservatioNs (Behavioral descriptioNs of
what you see aNd hear)

aNalysis/iNterpretatioNs/
questioNs

the play yard contained the
caregiver Lynn, the observer,
and six children ranging from
7 months to 6 years of age.

2:20

●● Lynn puts mat out and stands Leslie up in yard.

●● Leslie looks around (slowly rocking to keep balance).

●● reaches hand to Lynn and baby talks.

●● Looks at me and reaches for me.

●● takes two steps, trips, and falls on mat, remains
sitting on it.

●● turns around to face me.

●● cries a little.

●● reaches for Lynn, then to me.

●● Looks around and watches Jason (4-year-old who is
riding trike).

●● reaches hand toward Lynn.

●● Watches Jason and sucks middle two fingers on
right hand.

●● Looks around.

●● swings right arm.

2:45

●● takes Lynn’s fingers and stands.

●● Walks two steps onto grass.

●● swings right arm and brushes lips with hand to
make sound—baby talk.

●● turns toward Lynn and babbles.

●● Lane arrives. Leslie watches and rubs left eye with
left hand.

●● “Do you remember Leslie?” Lynn asks Lane.

●● Leslie reaches out arms to Lynn and walks to her.
hugs her.

●● Listens and watches Lynn. holds onto her for
support.

●● turns around and steps on mulch and lifts foot to
see what it is.

●● Watches Lynn tie Jason’s shoe.

●● Lynn lifts her in air, and then sets her on her knee.

●● she lies back in Lynn’s lap and laughs.

Leslie initiates a variety of
interactions with people and
materials. she is physically,
emotionally, socially, and cognitively
involving herself in her world.
teacher planning and facilitating can
stimulate and build on Leslie’s self-
initiated behaviors.

Wants to be picked up?

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you value (e.g., self-help skills) or might be concerned about (e.g., aggres-
sive behaviors). In addition, many commercially designed tools for ana-
lyzing a child’s progress on developmental milestones are checklists or
rating scales. In fact, the Developmental Milestones tool in Appendix A
was designed to help you gather data in all developmental domains for
children 36 months old and younger. This is a combination of a checklist
and a rating scale, so learning more about each will help you understand
how to use this important tool.

A checklist is a record of behaviors that a child can perform at a given
point in time. When you observe a child or group of children, you note
whether each child does or does not show that characteristic or behavior.
Placing a checkmark beside an item indicates that you observed the child
perform that behavior during the observation. Leaving the item blank tells
others either that the child cannot execute the behavior or that you did not
observe the execution of it at that particular time. Suppose you are particu-
larly interested in the children acquiring self-help skills. Thus, you create
a checklist to monitor progress in this area. Table 5–5 shows just part of
your checklist for infants.

Rating scales share many characteristics with checklists, but they are a
listing of qualities of characteristics or activities (Marion, 2004). For exam-
ple, instead of just knowing that Raji can lift the spoon to his mouth, you
can rate the frequency (i.e., never, seldom, sometimes, often, always) of

checklist A method for
recording observational data
that notes the presence of
specific predetermined skills or
behaviors.

rating scale Method of
recording observational data
similar to checklists, but that
lists frequencies (e.g., never,
seldom, always) or qualities of
characteristics or activities (e.g.,
eats using fingers, eats using
spoon, eats using fork).

Table 5–4 ◗ Anecdotal Record

Child’s Name: Thomas John

Observer’s Name: Rachel

Setting: Block area

Age: 22 months

Date: October 1

What actually happened/What I saw: Thomas John is building a block tower using the
square blocks. Erika toddled into the area and picked up a rectangle block. She held it out to
Thomas John. He took it from her hand and placed it on top of the tower. They both smiled
as if to say, “It didn’t fall.” Thomas John then picked up another rectangle block and placed it
on top. The structure wobbled but did not fall. He looked at Erika, smiled, and knocked over
the structure. They each began to build their own tower. They worked in the same area for
12 more minutes. Occasionally, they would hand blocks to one another and, like before, they
did not verbalize.

Reflection/Interpretation/Questions: Thomas John is new to the class, and he has not yet
spoken. His parents have reported that he tells them all about his day on the ride home. Erika
tends to verbalize frequently. She seemed to respect the fact that he was working in silence.
I wonder if they will continue to work together and form a friendship.

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Table 5–5 ◗ Sample Checklist with Data

DAKOTA TRAVIS COLBY RAJI SARAH LAKINTA JOSE

Holds bottle X X X X

Holds spoon X X X

Lifts bottle to mouth X X

Lifts spoon to mouth X X

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this behavior or its quality (i.e., all food on spoon placed in mouth, some of
food on spoon placed in mouth, none of food on spoon placed in mouth).
Table 5–6 is an example of a rating scale.

Returning to the Developmental Milestones in Appendix A, you should
now recognize which part of the tool is a checklist and which part is a rat-
ing scale. When you note the date of the first observation, the tool serves as
a checklist. When you evaluate the performance level at a later time (i.e.,
practicing or proficient), you are using the tool as a rating scale.

Authentic Documentation
“Documentation refers to any activity that renders a performance record
with sufficient detail to help others understand the behavior recorded. . . .
The intent of documentation is to explain, not merely display” (Forman &
Fife, 2012, pp. 247–271). Documentation is a research story, built upon
questions about the development and learning of children (Wien,
Guyevskey, & Berdoussis, 2011). As such, it reflects a professional dispo-
sition of not presuming to know, of asking how the learning occurs, and
of wondering. This form of assessment involves gathering work samples,
taking photographs or video recordings of the children, and organizing the
data to ask and answer using methods such as documentation panels. Edu-
cational portfolios will also be discussed in this section because of their
clear connection to using authentic documentation.

A documentation panel includes visual images and, whenever possi-
ble, narratives of dialogue that occurred during the experiences that were
documented. The goal of creating documentation panels is to make visible
to you, the children, and family members the development and learning
that has been occurring in the classroom. As such, documentation panels
include not only the objective record of your observations but also your
reflections and interpretations of those events (Rinaldi, 2001b). As you
make visible your reflections and interpretations through the panels, they,
too, become part of the data that can be read, reread, and analyzed (Rinaldi,
2001b). The sharing of documentation panels with children, families, col-
leagues, and community members “moves learning from the private to the
public realm” (Turner & Krechevsky, 2003, p. 42), which is something that
traditional forms of observing and recording did not accomplish.

documentation panel a visual
and written explanation of
children’s learning displayed
to others (family members,
children, colleagues, and/or
community members).

TABLE 5–6 ◗ Example of a Rating Scale for Brushing Teeth

Name of child:  age: 

Date of Observation:

Never sometimes frequeNtly always

squeezes toothpaste on brush

Brushes teeth independently

rinses mouth after brushing

rinses toothbrush

returns toothbrush to proper location

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Documentation has been shown to increase memories regarding
learning and on-topic speech for preschool and kindergarten
children—demonstrating potential benefits to learning for young
children (Fleck, Leichtman, Pillemer, & Shanteler, 2013). Fur-
thermore, documentation advocates seeing children as rich, capa-
ble learners who actively participate in their own development
and learning (Swim, 2012; Swim & Merz, 2011). Documentation,
like portfolios, can be used for children of all ages and ability lev-
els (Cooney & Buchanan, 2001; Stockall, Dennis, & Rueter, 2014).

A portfolio is a tool for collecting, storing, and documenting
what you know about a child and her development and learning
(Marion, 2004). All of the information gathered using the meth-
ods described previously can be added to the photographs and
work samples to create a more complete picture of the child’s
capabilities (Photo 5–4). However, not all portfolios need be in
paper form; arranging photos and videos on DVDs for families
can provide a more complete picture of the child’s development in the con-
text of everyday interactions (Appl, Leavitt, & Ryan, 2014). Storing all of
the data in one location allows for easy access and reflection. While origi-
nally designed for use with older children, portfolios can and should be
used with very young children because they serve a number of purposes,
including but not limited to the following:

●● Show the quality of the children’s thinking and work.
●● Document children’s development over time (one year or more).
●● Assist when communicating with families and other professionals

(Appl et al., 2014).
●● Support developmentally appropriate practice by giving teachers “a

strong child development foundation on which to build age- and indi-
vidually appropriate programs” (Marion, 2004, p. 112).

●● Provide a tool for teacher reflection (e.g., expectations, quality of
planned experiences).

●● Make available information for evaluating program quality and effec-
tiveness (Helm, Beneke, & Steinheimer, 2007; Marion, 2004).

Other Observation Tools

Time and event sampling techniques can be used to record events or behav-
iors quickly that you are interested in tracking. Use time sampling, for exam-
ple, if you want to know what a group of toddlers does after waking from
their naps. Create a chart of the areas of your classroom, and, then, for two
weeks, record the first area selected by each child after waking. Doing this
over a number of days would provide insight into the children’s interests.
Event sampling is very similar to time sampling in that you are recording
specific behaviors that occur. With event sampling, however, you typically
watch one child and record every time a particular behavior occurs. To illus-
trate, Lela is interested in understanding how Savannah responds when
angry. Lela made a chart of the behaviors that Savannah typically engages in
when angry. Then, whenever Lela sees that she is getting angry, she charts
the behaviors she observes. To better understand the possible causes of

portfolio Tool for collecting,
storing, and documenting what
you know about a child and her
development and learning.

time and event sampling
techniques Strategies for
quickly recording events
or behaviors that you are
interested in tracking.

Photo 5–4 Labeling this artwork
provides evidence of the child’s
language and representation skills.
This artifact can be used as an entry
in the child’s portfolio.

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Savannah’s anger, Lela also notes what she sees as triggers to Savannah’s
anger (Marion, 2004). Together, this information can provide Lela with
insights into how to assist Savannah with gaining anger-management skills.

Home-school journals can also be used to record useful information for
both families and teachers. The journals are used to record daily or weekly
information about key happenings, such as developmental milestones, that
might be of interest to family members and teachers. Teachers write in the
journal, and then the family members take the journal home to read it.
They are strongly encouraged to write back responses or questions, or to
explain behaviors or events happening at home. These journals can be a
fabulous tool for creating partnerships between teachers and families. Of
course, teachers must pay close attention to how they describe events and
behaviors; descriptive language is a must.

Other records kept on a daily basis serve particular purposes, such as
communication with families, but they often yield little data for use in
evaluating development or learning. The daily message center of your class-
room, for example, contains a clipboard for each child. The clipboard con-
tains a daily communication log that covers routine care events such as
eating, sleeping, toileting, and other. For consistency of care between fam-
ily life and school, families and teachers have designated locations for
recording information (see Table 5–7). Use the chart by writing down each

home-school journal a
notebook or journal in which
teachers and family members
write notes about key
happenings and which they
send back and forth on a daily
or weekly basis.

daily communication log a log
for communicating with family
members that covers routine
care events such as eating,
sleeping, toileting, and other.

TABLE 5–7 ◗ Sample Daily Communication Log

routine care for ____________________________________________________________ on _________________________________________.

home eveNts school eveNts

eating

sleeping

toileting

Other routine care

Important information to know

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time you perform a routine care event
(e.g., change a diaper) and details about
that event (e.g., record whether the dia-
per was wet or soiled). This can often be
a useful place for noting supplies that
are needed at school (e.g., diapers, dry
formula).

5-4c analysis
After you gather your data, the next com-
ponent of a scholarly approach is review-
ing, reflecting on, and analyzing the data.
Set aside time on a regular basis, prefer-
ably each day, to analyze and evaluate
the data (Photo 5–5). When analyzing, in
general, your attention should be placed
on coming to understand what the child
can currently do. You can approach this
aspect of your work by asking, “What
is she capable of doing alone and with
assistance?”

Analysis also means comparing the data gathered with what we know
about child development and learning, as well as what you currently
know about the child’s context, especially family characteristics and cir-
cumstances. You may focus your analysis on one area of development,
such as cognition and language, or the whole child, for example, phys-
ical, emotional, social, and cognitive/language. Although you can com-
pare the child’s level of development and behaviors to developmental
milestones or expected patterns of development based on chronological
age, be cautious with this approach. The age when children accomplish
developmental norms varies greatly due to the influence of variables
ranging from genetic predispositions to access to resources to family
beliefs and practices. Nevertheless, knowing the expected age range for
a milestone will help you determine how to use the data gathered. For
example, infants typically produce their first word at 12 months of age;
however, this can occur as early as 9 months or as late as 16 months and
still be considered normal development. Typically, there is a three- to six-
month range on either side of the developmental milestone, but this will
vary depending on the particular behavior. Knowing this information is
vital because it provides you with a context for distinguishing warning
signs from red flags. Warning signs are those behaviors that, although
you and family members should monitor, are not of great concern yet.
Red flags are those behaviors that deviate from both the developmental
milestone and the expected range. When a number of behaviors within
a particular area of development are found to be red flags, it is time to
invite other professionals with specialized knowledge in observation,
assessment, and early intervention, to join the conversations.

Few caregivers have received the specialized training required to use
standardized assessment techniques. If your program wants to carry out spe-
cialized assessment, obtain the necessary training first. However, remember

PhOTO 5–5 Set aside time on a regular basis to share
information with colleagues who work with the same children.

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cULtUraLLY apprOprIate assessMeNt

As a teacher, you are not trained to screen and diag-
nose developmental delays or other special needs. You
will need to understand, however, the ethical use of
observational and screening tools. The NAEYC’s posi-
tion statement on ethical conduct (2011b) includes the
use of assessment data to make decisions regarding the
care and education of young children. This statement
included the following ideals regarding the assessment
of children:

I- 1.6—To use assessment instruments and strategies
that are appropriate for the children to be assessed,
that are used only for the purposes for which they
were designed, and that have the potential to benefit
children.

I- 1.7—To use assessment information to understand
and support children’s development and learning,
to support instruction, and to identify children who
may need additional services.

The statement also sets out the ideal that each
child’s culture, language, ethnicity, and family struc-
ture are recognized and valued in the program (I-1.10).
Taking these three ideals together suggests that teachers
should intentionally advocate for culturally appropri-
ate screening of infants and toddlers. Unfortunately,
this is easier said than done.

Most screening tools have been validated with White,
middle-class populations with little investigation of
the cultural aspects of screening (Lyman, Njoroge, &
Willis, 2007). For example, Sturner, Albus, Thomas,
and Howard (2007) argue for the revision of the Diag-
nostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmen-
tal Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood (which is
currently under way with the new edition expected in
2016; see the Zero to Three website for more informa-
tion). They want the assessment to be graduated more
finely to classify a range of symptomatology. In addition,
they would like the tool refined to assess the families’
strengths more accurately, not just their weaknesses.
Although these are excellent modifications for this
assessment instrument, none of the changes addresses
the cultural bias that it most certainly contains.

Autism is a rising concern for early intervention
specialists, teachers, and families in the United States.
Much research has been conducted to create reliable
and valid assessment tools that accurately diagnose
autism during infancy and toddlerhood. For exam-
ple, the Quantitative Checklist for Autism in Toddlers

(Q-CHAT) was validated on a large sample of toddlers
with and without a history of autism (Allison et al.,
2008). The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers
(M-CHAT) compared older and younger toddlers of
low- and high-risk for autism (Pandey et al., 2008).

Kara and colleagues (2014) understood the challenges
of using a tool that was not culturally appropriate and
adapted the M-CHAT to Turkish culture. They tested the
adapted tool by having parents provide answers in two
ways. First, parents were asked to complete it while wait-
ing at a clinic for their child to have a well-child exami-
nation. The second parents in the second group were
interviewed by health-care personnel who recorded the
answers. Given the rates of false-positives of both meth-
ods of administrating the tool, the authors concluded
that the tool was useful in Turkey for screening of per-
vasive developmental disorders in primary care, but that
it was completed more accurately when health-care per-
sonnel ask the parents the questions (Kara et al., 2014).
This study shows that screening tools can and should be
adapted based on specific cultures and settings.

While researchers warn that “it is difficult to main-
tain an efficient level of sensitivity and specificity
based on observational data from a single screening”
(Honda et al., 2009, p. 980), as a member of the inter-
disciplinary assessment team, teachers must share
their understanding of the profession’s ethics for
assessing children. Specifically, Ideals 1.6, 1.7, and
1.10 (described previously) would lead a teacher to
advocate for additional observations of a child when
a screening tool indicates areas of concern as well as
work to ensure the assessment data accurately reflect
what is known about the families’ cultural background
and practices. Other team members may be unaware of
potential stereotyping that may come as a result of their
using assessments designed for a particular population
with culturally diverse individuals/families (Lyman
et al., 2007). These authors go on to say that “screening
for risks to development involves a complex interac-
tion of the dynamics of the parent-child relationship,
the effects of culture on those dynamics and growth,
and cultural definitions of normalcy and risk” (p. 48).
Each individual culture may have different expecta-
tions and definitions of what is considered develop-
mentally on target. Cross-culture research must be
done carefully to avoid a multitude of potential biases
and to maximize the ecocultural context (Matafwali &
Serpell, 2014). Researchers who design assessment
tools must work with community members to identify

Spotlight on Research

(continued)

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that these tools are often not as valuable as your careful, ongoing observations,
records, and analysis of observational data from your specific classroom.

5-4d Using the Data
As mentioned previously, the data gathered on very young children should
be used to benefit them (NAEYC, 2011b). Teachers use this information to
organize care and educational plans on a daily and weekly basis, develop an
individual (and flexible) schedule that meets each child’s needs, and create
responsive learning environments—indoors and outdoors—to support and
challenge the growth and development of each child. Each use of data just
mentioned will be addressed more completely in future chapters of this book.

shared concerns, understand how they view partic-
ular behaviors, and modify assessments accordingly
(Haack & Gerdes, 2011). When a tool is used in a class-
room setting, teachers can help others to remember that
the results of each assessment are interpreted through

a particular cultural lens. By openly acknowledging
the ethnocentricity of our assessment tools and taking
steps to be more culturally competent in our screening,
we can better help children from all ethnic groups to
have a chance to grow up healthy.

Spotlight on Research (continued)

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.
1. Why must teachers observe and record the behavior of infants and toddlers?

What observation tools will (or do) you use most often? Why? What are the
benefits to you, the children, and families when using these tools?

2. How will you ensure that all assessment tools you use in your work as an
early childhood educator are culturally appropriate?

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

5-1 describe the characteristics necessary to
become a competent caregiver.
Competent caregivers take care of themselves
as much as they do others (e.g., young children,
family members) and strive to develop a positive
self-image regarding the work they do.

5-2 specify the various types of knowledge, skills,
and dispositions professional educators should
possess.
Being an early childhood educator requires a
strong grounding in professional knowledge, skills,
and dispositions. Not only should you know what

to do in a given situation and have the skills to act
in a particular way, but you should value acting in
that manner.

5-3 defend the importance of formal educational
experiences for teachers on child outcomes.
Working independently and effectively with
young children comes after receiving extensive
instruction, investigating theories, writing papers,
and getting mentoring. It comes after your positive
intentions and caring have been transformed into
a firm educational base of understanding. Learn-
ing should be ongoing as you seek the answers to

Summary

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Eric, 4-and-a-half months old, is lying on the floor when
he starts to cry. His teacher, Audrey, looks at the clock
and picks him up. She “eats” his tummy, and he laughs.
She holds him up in the air, and he smiles. She says,
“Are you getting hungry?” Eric swings his arms as if to
say, “Not right now, I want to play.” Audrey “eats” his
tummy again. Ria toddles over and looks at Eric. Audrey
tells Eric what Ria is doing to provide a language-rich
environment. Ria toddles away, and Eric begins to fuss.
Audrey asks again if he is hungry. This time he contin-
ues to fuss, so she gets his bottle, sits in a chair, and feeds
him. Eric gazes at Audrey and smiles between sips.

Grasping her finger, Eric looks around the room.
Audrey notices he is looking toward Ria. She comments,

“Ria is painting. She is making large circles.” Audrey
stands him in her lap facing Ria. “Can you see better
now?” He laughs. She holds him while he dances and
laughs. Audrey turns him around so that he is facing
her. She holds his hands to pull him to and fro, and
kisses him. He watches Audrey’s mouth and responds
as she talks to him. He leans on her shoulder and burps
as he fingers the afghan on the back of the chair.
1. What observation tool(s) would you use to gather

information on Eric’s interest in Ria? Why?
2. What suggestions would you give to Audrey for

organizing the environment to support Eric’s social
and emotional development? Why?

EricC a S e S t U D Y

more questions, and you see the impact of your
behavior, curriculum, and relationships on the
children’s development and learning.

5-4 Justify how to match observational tools with
your data needs.
Teachers gather data to make educational deci-
sions that benefit each and every child. Many

tools exist for gathering data about very young
children. Each tool should be evaluated to
ensure that it is appropriate for the child being
observed; if it is not, modify the tool or select
another one.

Lesson Plan
title: Reading with My Friend

child observation:

Leslie is outside with her caregiver Lynn. She “watches
Jason (4 years old) and sucks middle two fingers on
right hand.” Then, Leslie “walks two steps onto the
grass.” See Table 5–3 for more details.

child’s developmental goal:

To develop (and practice) walking skills

To interact with another child

Materials: Blanket, basket of books

preparation: Place blanket in grassy area with the
basket where it cannot be reached while sitting on it.

learning environment:

1. When you take the children outside, sit Leslie on
the blanket.

2. Draw her attention to the basket of books by using
descriptive language. To illustrate, you could say:

“Your favorite book is in the basket. I brought it
out just for you.”

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3. Invite the child to get the book, if she hasn’t already
moved toward the basket, by asking prompts or
open-ended questions such as these:
a. I wonder where the book is.
b. Why don’t you walk over to the basket and look

for it?
4. When she returns to the blanket, comment on her

walking abilities and begin to read the book.
5. When Jason comes near the area, invite him to join

Leslie. Engage them in looking at the same book.
Invite conversation by asking questions of both of
them. You might say, for example:
a. Do you both have a dog at home?
b. The girl in the story likes to be outside like us.

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

guidance consideration:

If Leslie loses interest in Jason’s story, build Jason’s
understanding by explaining that she cannot (yet)
listen to a story as long as he can. If Leslie becomes
excited and tears a page in the book, remind her to be
gentle. If Jason is interested, enlist his assistance with
repairing the book.

variations:

Take pictures of Leslie and Jason interacting through-
out the day/week. Make a book of their friendship.

Professional Resource Download

Additional Resources
Benner, S., & Grim, J. C. (2013). Assessment of young

children with special needs: A context-based
approach (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Boylan, J., & Dalrymple, J. (2009). Advocacy for chil-
dren and young adults. Philadelphia, PA: Open
University Press.

Isham, S. R. (2014). Child and family advocacy: The
complete guide to child advocacy and education
for parents, teachers, advocates, and social workers
[electronic book]. Retrieved from amazon.com.

Nilsen, B. A. (2014). Week by week: Plans for docu-
menting children’s development (6th ed.). Belmont,
CA: Cengage.

Voress, J. K., & Maddox, T. (2013). Dayc-2: Develop-
mental Assessment of Young Children (2nd ed.).
Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Zaslow, M., Martinez-Beck, I., Tout, K., & Halle, T.
(2011). (Eds.). Quality measurement in early
childhood settings. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brooks
Publishing Company, Inc.

123chapter 5 effective preparation and tools

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© 2017 Cengage Learning

C h a p t e r

Building Relationships
and Guiding Behaviors

Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

6-1 Explain the philosophy and principles of
the Reggio Emilia approach.

6-2 Summarize a developmental perspective
on child guidance.

6-3 Apply strategies for communicating with
very young children about emotions.

6-4 Match methods for helping children gain
self-regulation skills to a situation.

Standards Addressed
in This Chapter

NaeYC Standards
for early Childhood professional
preparation

1 Promoting Child Development and Learning

4 Using Developmentally Effective Approaches

Developmentally appropriate
practice Guidelines

1 Creating a Caring Community of Learners

In addition, the NAEYC standards for develop-
mentally appropriate practice are divided into
six areas particularly important to infant/toddler
care. The following area is addressed in this
chapter: relationship between caregiver and child.

6

Pa rt t WO Establishing a Positive Learning Environment

124

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As this book emphasizes, children need strong, positive relationships with
adults in order to thrive in all areas of development. Although these rela-
tionships are supported through family grouping, continuity of care, and
primary caregiving, those are not enough. The ways in which you interact
with very young children need to become a focus of your attention. The
first guideline for developmentally appropriate practice, creating a caring
community of learners, speaks directly to the type of relationships adults
need to establish with and among children (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009). In
a caring community, each learner is valued, and teachers help children
learn to respect and acknowledge differences in abilities and to value each
other as individuals (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009). Teachers need to select a
variety of strategies for helping children acquire the skills for interacting
with others, such as emotional management and perspective-taking. How a
teacher guides the behavior of the children sends a clear message about
what actions are socially acceptable; we demonstrate through our interac-
tions how to treat one another.

Another aspect of creating a positive environment involves what psy-
chologists have labeled mastery climate. This term is used to describe how
adults create a context that focuses on self-improvement, effort, persis-
tence, and task mastery by providing challenging tasks (see, e.g., Smith,
Smoll, & Cumming, 2007). In this context, mistakes are seen as opportuni-
ties for learning because of the valuable feedback they provide to the
learner. In other words, an intentional emphasis is placed on internal moti-
vation rather than external motivation. When investigating the impact of
coaching behaviors within a mastery climate, Smith et al. (2007) found that
athletes in such an atmosphere reported lower levels of anxiety. Applying
the mastery climate concept to an educational setting should result in
teachers focusing more on performance and movement toward achieving
goals (rather than just the product or end point reached). Another logical
assumption is that reduced levels of anxiety might result in more focused,
risk-taking behaviors and thus greater levels of learning. Research, in fact,
confirms that a mastery climate is an effective instructional approach that
fosters a child-centered achievement environment, provides freedom of
choice, and supports positive attitudes and self-perception toward move-
ment, social interaction, and problem-solving skills (Robinson, Webster,
Logan, Lucas, & Barber, 2012).

Creating positive learning environments and providing conscious, pur-
poseful caregiving to individual children has been a leading premise of
this book since its inception. One of the finest child care programs in the
world operates in Reggio Emilia, Italy. That program and this text clearly
share a common focus on promoting the highest-quality care for our young-
est citizens.

6-1 Reggio Emilia Approach
to Infant-Toddler Education
After World War II, the women of a village in Europe decided to build and
run a school for young children. They funded the project with salvaged,
washed bricks from destroyed buildings and money from the sale of a tank,

caring community of
learners One of the five
guidelines for developmentally
appropriate practice which
focuses on creating a classroom
context that supports the
development of caring,
inclusive relationships for
everyone involved.

mastery climate Adults
create a context that focuses
on self-improvement, effort,
persistence, and task mastery
by providing challenging tasks.

chApter 6 Building relationships and Guiding Behaviors 125

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trucks, and horses left behind by the retreating Germans (Gandini, 2012b).
They desired “to bring change and create a new, more just world, free from
oppression . . .” (Gandini, 2004). This school formed the foundation for the
later development of the municipal infant/toddler and preschool programs
in Reggio Emilia, Italy. A series of national laws related to women’s rights,
workers’ rights, and children’s rights created a context that supported the
establishment of nationally funded infant-toddler and preschool programs
(see, e.g., Gandini, 2004; Ghedini, 2001). While creating nationally funded
programs for preschoolers was a challenge, it was less of a battle than they
faced with infant-toddler care. The Italian public feared potential damage
to children or to the mother-child relationship (Mantovani, 2001). How-
ever, these attitudes changed with time, and now infant-toddler centers are
viewed as “daily-life contexts with the potential to facilitate the growth
and development of all children” (Mantovani, 2001, p. 25). As recently as
1997, laws were passed to establish local projects and services that address
the needs of all children and youth (0–18 years old; Ghedini, 2001). These
advancements continued the view that care and education of very young
children is the responsibility of the broader community (New, 1998).

6-1a philosophy
The programs of Reggio Emilia are built on educational experiences con-
sisting of reflection, practice, and further careful reflection leading to
continual renewal and readjustments (Gandini, 2004). Similar to the the-
oretical grounding of this book, several theorists influenced their philos-
ophy, including but not limited to Dewey, Ferriere, Vygotsky, Erikson,
Bronfenbrenner, Brunner, Piaget, Hawkins, and more contemporary people
such as Shaffer, Kagan, Morris, Gardner, and Heinz (Gandini, 2012b). Read-
ing and discussing the writings of these educational leaders assisted them
in forming their views about the route they wanted to take when working
with young children.

The educators in Reggio Emilia strive to reflect on and recognize in
their practices the 14 principles shown in Table 6–1. Some of these princi-
ples have been discussed in previous chapters (e.g., Chapter 5), some will
be addressed later (e.g., Chapters 8 and 9), and some are covered in this
chapter because they relate to how we build relationships with very young
children.

6-1b Image of the Child
The educators in Reggio Emilia first and foremost speak about the image
they hold of the child and how this affects their interactions, manage-
ment of the environment, and selection of teaching strategies (Edwards,
Gandini, & Forman, 2012; Gandini, 2004; Wien, 2008; Wurm, 2005). Take
a moment and think about three words or phrases that you would use to
describe the characteristics, abilities, or expectations you hold of infants
and toddlers. While looking over the list, ask yourself, “What do these
words say regarding my beliefs about young children?” Does your list
include words such as active, possessing potential, independent, curious,
competent, capable, or problem solvers? The teachers in Reggio believe
that all children are unique in their own ways, and their job as teachers is

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to recognize and support these differences (Photo 6–1). More specifically,
according to Rinaldi (2001c), their image is of “a child who is competent,
active, and critical; therefore, a child who may be seen as a challenge
and, sometimes, as troublesome” (p. 51). Children need adults who assist

TABLE 6–1 ◗ Fourteen Principles for Educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy

1. the image of the child

2. children’s relationships and interactions within a system

3. the three subjects of education: children, parents, and teachers

4. the role of parents

5. the role of space: an amiable school

6. the value of relationships and interaction of children in small groups

7. the role of time and the importance of continuity

8. cooperation and collaboration as the backbone of the system

9. the interdependence of cooperation and organization

10. teachers and children as partners in learning

11. Flexible planning vs. curriculum (progettazione)

12. the power of documentation

13. the many languages of children

14. projects

Source: Adapted from Gandini, 2004.

PhOTO 6–1 How do you respect and support the developing capabilities of
very young children?

©
2

01
7

Ce
ng

ag
e

Le
ar

ni
ng

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in the acquisition of skills that support an active construction of their
own worlds (White, Swim, Freeman, & Norton-Smith, 2007). Young chil-
dren must come to understand how they receive as well as produce
change in all systems with which they interact (Rinaldi, 2001c). This
image of the child, then, is a social, ethical, and political statement about
active participation in a democratic society, not just an educational one
(Gandini, 2012b; Swim & Merz, 2011).

According to Rinaldi (2001c), their creation of the image of the child
“. . . was developed by the pedagogy that inspires the infant-toddler cen-
ters . . .” (p. 50). For educators in Reggio Emilia, there is a constant back and
forth between theory (i.e., the image) and practice. Knowledge and mean-
ing are never static but rather generate other meanings (Gandini, 2012b).
Hence, you should not despair if your image of the child is not quite
fully developed. By reading, reflecting, reading some more, interacting
with children, analyzing interactions, and so on, you will facilitate this
development.

6-1c Inserimento
Educators in these programs have deeply respectful ways in which they
relate to children and parents. Inserimento, which can be roughly trans-
lated as “settling in” or “period of transition and adjustment,” is used to
describe the strategy for building relationships and community among
adults and children when the child is first entering an infant-toddler cen-
ter (Bove, 2001). While this period is individualized for each family, a gen-
eral model is available to support educators’ decision-making: parent
interviews and home visits before the child starts at the center; parent-
teacher meetings before, during, and after the initial transition process;
documentation; large or small group discussions with families; and daily
communication between families and teachers (Bove, 2001). The model is
an attempt “to meet each family’s needs, to sustain parental involvement,
and to respond to the parents’ requests for emotional support in caring for
their young children” (Bove, 2001, p. 112). This process is flexible in order
to respond to individual family needs as well as cultural variations found
in families (Goldsmith & Theilheimer, 2015). Some families transition
to school quickly as the need to return to work becomes pressing, while
other families may make several visits to the school over a number of
weeks before actually leaving the child with the teachers. In any case,
teachers need to engage in open communication to encourage the family
members to share their hopes and concerns about their child and group
care (Goldsmith & Theilheimer, 2015). When communication is paired
with careful observation of family members and the child, the adults
can collaborate to determine the best way to proceed with each family
(Bove, 2001; Kaminsky, 2005).

As the inserimento model demonstrates, parents are viewed as integral
partners in caring for and educating the youngest citizens. It is part of our
responsibility as professional educators to devise routines that help infants
and toddlers simultaneously separate from and form strong bonds with
family members; understanding that each goodbye will be followed with a
hello (Balaban, 2006; Duffy, 2004). In other words, we must do all we can

image of the child Beliefs
about children that teachers
hold; these beliefs are examined
for how they impact teacher-
child interactions, management
of the environment, and
selection of teaching strategies.

inserimento A period of
gradual “settling in” or
“transition and adjustment”
that includes strategies for
building relationships and
community among adults and
children when the child is first
entering a reggio emilia–
inspired child care program.

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to assist in building and maintaining strong, healthy attachments at home
and school. Helping parents, other relatives, siblings, and children become
full participants of the program community is viewed as vital because this
supports the well-being and development of not just the infant or toddler
but the entire family.

Research on toddlers’ transition to child care in Korea suggests that
teachers and family members play an important role in helping the child
adapt to the new environment. Teacher beliefs about the process and their
perceptions of the toddler’s adaptation strongly influenced their practices
during the adaptation process (Bang, 2014). Specifically, when teachers
believed that the adaptation program itself was enough for toddlers to
adjust to the new environment, they focused only on providing the pro-
gram. On the other hand, teachers who perceived soothing crying toddlers
as a main concern and a significant part of their role used several strategies
to stop the crying (Bang, 2014). As with the inserimento process described
earlier, toddlers’ successful adaptations to the new setting were supported
by strong teacher-parent collaborations. Without such relationships, care-
givers could not respond sensitively to toddlers’ needs during this critical
transition period (Bang, 2014).

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. Why should infant-toddler teachers focus their attention on creating a caring
community of learners?

2. Review the principles of the Reggio Emilia approach to early education in
Table 6–1. Which of the principles support the practices of inserimento?

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

6-2 A Developmental View of Discipline
Newborns do not arrive in this world knowing how to behave. Yet, they
immediately begin to investigate the world around them and their role in
it. Infants and toddlers work minute by minute to construct their under-
standing of socially acceptable behaviors. The development of behavior
from birth to 2 years old is characterized by stops-and-starts and periods
of increased aggression, yet there are within-child and between-child vari-
ations that are influenced by family characteristics (e.g., sibling within
5 years of age of toddler, mental distress of parents) (Nærde, Ogden, Janson,
& Zachrisson, 2014). While aggression is normative to some extent, it is
your responsibility to help each child learn to be socially competent with
peers and other adults. You may recall from Chapter 3 that toddlers who
demonstrated high levels of effortful control were lower in externalizing
behaviors and higher in social competence (Spinrad et al., 2007). Thus, the
skills underlying effortful control such as response inhibition and delay
of gratification are important for teachers to support. The primary avenue
adults have to assist very young children with gaining effortful control
and, in turn, social competence is to carefully plan their indoor and out-
door learning environments (see Chapter 8) and use positive strategies for
guiding their behavior.

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Many experts in infant and toddler development avoid discussing dis-
cipline out of fear that their comments will be used inappropriately with
children. Although a valid reasoning, it is essential that teachers use devel-
opmentally appropriate guidance strategies to help children learn to follow
rules that keep themselves, other people, and property secure and safe
(Marion, 2014). Therefore, discipline is an indispensable aspect of helping
children develop. The term discipline is used here to mean teaching appro-
priate behavior and setting limits on inappropriate behavior. It does not
mean punishing children or controlling their behavior. The purpose of
guidance or discipline is to help young children learn about themselves
(e.g., emotions, feelings) and to teach them ways to interact successfully
with others (Keyser, 2006).

Everyone holds implicit, unexamined theories and beliefs regarding
discipline (Marion & Swim, 2007). These have developed over time as the
result of how we were treated as members of our own families and how we
have treated others in our care. Some teachers were punished harshly as a
child and remember the negative emotions that accompanied such treat-
ment. As a result, they do not treat children in the same manner. How-
ever, some teachers have not acknowledged their emotional response to
inappropriate care and continue to use those strategies (or aspects of them,
such as sarcastic remarks) in their interactions with children. As a profes-
sional, it is time to take stock of your personal experiences and how they
have shaped your beliefs.

Do so by remembering a time when you were “in trouble” as a child.
Write down all that you can remember about this event: the setting, who
was involved, how people acted and reacted, what the outcomes were
for you and others. Then, answer the following questions as a strategy for
reflecting on and evaluating the impact of the experience. What discipline
or punishment strategies did the adults use? Did you think the outcome
was fair or appropriate? Why or why not? How do you think that event
impacted you as a child? As an adult? What did you learn from this event?
How does that learning impact your behaviors with children today? Pro-
vide at least one example.

Sometimes reflecting on past experiences can be painful. However, the
exercise is intended to assist you in acknowledging and uncovering your
hidden, implicit theories about how to guide the behavior of young chil-
dren. Doing so should highlight aspects of your theories that are useful to
you as a professional educator and aspects that you should consciously
address to improve. In any case, without reflecting to bring hidden theories
to light, new information is often openly discarded because it doesn’t fit
with an existing worldview (Pintrich, Marx, & Boyle, 1993). Instead, use
the information in this chapter to help change your beliefs and practices as
you strive to adopt a developmental perspective on child guidance.

6-2a Mental Models
Different mental models help teachers understand their role when guid-
ing the behavior of young children. Resources and Instruction for Staff
Excellence (RISE; 2000) created a videoconference series about guiding
the behavior of young children. This series promoted the mental model of

discipline (1) Approach
to teaching appropriate
behavior and setting limits on
inappropriate behavior; (2) the
ability to focus on an activity in
the face of obstacles to reach a
desired outcome.

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self, environment, and child. When a situation arises, a teacher must first
evaluate her responses and determine who owns the problem. If the adult
owns the problem, she must determine how to solve it by examining the
situation more carefully. The adult can ask, for example, do I just want to
control the child? It is essential to accept the fact that even young children
largely control their own behavior. If control is an issue, then this is your
problem, and you need to find other ways to view and respond to the way
the child behaves. If you do not own the problem, then you should move
to the next level of the mental model: an evaluation of the environment.
Can the issue be resolved by changing an aspect of the environment? For
example, is the block area too small for the number of children who want
to use it at one time? If so, then alter the physical arrangement of the room
to accommodate the children’s interest in building. If you can’t resolve the
situation by changing your behavior or the environment, then it is time to
consider specific strategies to assist the child in acquiring a missing skill.
To illustrate, if an infant is biting others, then your intervention might be
talking for the infant, describing her wants and needs to others. Doing so
would provide a language-rich context and promote the acquisition of
vocabulary and communication skills.

The second mental model is offered by Powell, Dunlap, and Fox (2006).
The first level of this model (see Figure 6–1) focuses on building positive
relationships among children, families, and caregivers. This builds on the
importance of fostering relationships with young children discussed in
previous chapters and forms the foundation for the prevention of challeng-
ing behaviors. Recall also how those chapters linked the building of qual-
ity, secure relationships with the acquisition of positive social skills. The
second level of this mental model is the building of high-quality environ-
ments. “Classroom schedules, routines, and activities also provide valuable
tools for preventing the development and occurrence of problem behav-
iors” (Powell et al., 2006, p. 29). Every day should be carefully planned
to minimize transitions as “[c]hallenging behavior is more likely to occur
when there are too many transitions, when all the children transition at
the same time in the same way, when transitions are too long and children
spend too much time waiting with nothing to do, and when there are not
clear instructions” (Hemmeter, Ostrosky, Artman, & Kinder, 2008, p. 1). In
other words, when teachers carefully plan transitions and the rest of their
day, they decrease opportunities for disruptive behavior.

As an Early Head Start provider, you provide services
to family members and very young children in their
homes and at your center. You have worked with Xolo’s
family for 14 months now. On your most recent visit,
his mother, Mia, mentioned that she is struggling with
his behavior. She mentioned that he says “no” to every-
thing and runs away when she wants him to do some-
thing. You empathize with her regarding how stressful

it can be to have a toddler in the home! You invite her
to stay in the classroom the next time Xolo comes to
school to observe him and you. You promise to talk
about her observations at the next home visit. What
questions would you ask Mia to find out her observa-
tions? Then, what questions would guide the conver-
sation to thinking about and discussing RISE’s mental
model (i.e., self, environment, and child)?

Family and Community Connection

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You may have noticed that levels one and two of this model are
intended to address behaviors that may be considered challenging when
displayed by any child. The next two levels address behaviors that are
unresolved by positive, stable relationships and a carefully planned learn-
ing environment. These remaining behaviors need specific interventions to
assist children in acquiring more positive social interaction or emotional
regulation skills.

Teachers can learn to implement promotion, prevention, and interven-
tion practices related to the pyramid model successfully and with posi-
tive impacts on children’s behavior (Fox, Hemmeter, Snyder, Binder, &
Clarke, 2011). The difficulty with this model was learning to implement it
with fidelity. Reaching a level of consistency with the complex and com-
prehensive array of evidence-based practices required ongoing education
and coaching (Fox et al., 2011). However, the importance of such levels of
engagement should not lead to discouragement; rather, it should heighten
your desire to support social, emotional, and behavioral development for
young children who are learning to be members of a group. The next sec-
tion describes some specific strategies teachers can use when faced with
challenging behaviors.

From: Diane Powell, Glen Dunlap, & Lisa Fox (2006). “Prevention and Intervention for the Challenging Behaviors of
Toddlers and Preschoolers,” Infants and Young Children, 19(1), 25–35 (page 27). Used with permission from Wolters
Kluwer Health.

FIGURE 6–1 ◗ A Model for Promoting Young Children’s Special
Competence and Addressing Challenging Behavior

Intensive
individualized
interventions

Social-emotional
learning strategies

Prevention practices in home and
classroom settings

Building positive relationships
with children and families

Children with delays
and/or persistent

challenges

Children at risk

All children

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. Why is taking a developmental approach to guidance beneficial for children
and teachers?

2. Compare and contrast the two mental models for guiding children’s behaviors.

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

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6-3 Strategies for Communicating
about Emotions
Creating a caring community involves attending to the social, emotional,
and behavioral environments of a classroom or home setting. Infants and
toddlers communicate their needs using a combination of verbal and non-
verbal strategies. We do the same as we communicate with them. The strat-
egies discussed in this section are an outgrowth of the theories presented
earlier as well as the three As. The purpose of your acquiring these strate-
gies is to make strong relationships between you and the children possible
and to promote optimal development and learning.

One important aspect of optional development and learning for infants
and toddlers is coming to self-regulate their own behavior (Photo 6–2).
Our culture expects individuals to behave in ways that are not harmful to
themselves, other people, or the environment. These expectations are
taught to infants and toddlers by their families, caregivers, and society. To
live successfully with other people, children must learn to control their
desires and impulses (self-control), and to take responsibility for them-
selves appropriately for their age and developmental abilities. The extent
to which people perceive their lives as within their own control deter-
mines what is called locus of control. The word locus in this context
means perceived location, so children who learn to take responsibility for
themselves have an internal locus of control. Conversely, people who per-
ceive their lives to be controlled by others have an external locus of
control.

For infants and toddlers to internalize for themselves that
certain behaviors are acceptable and others are not, they must
feel that they have the power to choose their own actions. Unfor-
tunately, many adults believe that they must control children’s
behavior to care for children and keep them safe. The consistent
emotional message communicated to children by adults who feel
responsible for the child’s behavior is, “You have no choice but
to do what I tell you.” This belief is problematic for the develop-
ment of self-regulation.

Child psychologists and counselors observe external locus
of control in many children referred for behavior problems. In
two studies conducted with older children, researchers found
that the more parents espoused an external locus of control (i.e.,
attempted to control their children’s behavior), the higher the
likelihood their children had externalizing behavior problems
(e.g., increased aggression with peers, lack of frustration toler-
ance) as they got older (McCabe, Goehring, Yeh, & Lau, 2008;
McElroy & Rodriguez, 2008). Similarly, mothers who reported
lower levels of efficacy when dealing with their child’s aggres-
sive behavior resorted to high-control techniques such as cor-
poral punishment or punitive strategies such as removing
privileges without explaining why (Evans, Nelson, Porter, Nel-
son, & Hart, 2012). Research on the effects of high-control tech-
niques reveals that children of parents who use spanking and

self-regulate the skills
necessary to direct and control
one’s own behavior in socially
and culturally appropriate ways.

locus of control the extent to
which a person perceives his or
her life as within his or her own
control.

PhOTO 6–2 Infants and toddlers
have to learn to self-regulate their
own behavior.

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other types of corporal punishment are especially likely to endorse aggres-
sive problem-solving strategies with peers (Simons & Wurtele, 2010),
engage in more aggression with peers, and engage in other deviant behav-
iors (Straus, 2001). Data from the Early Head Start Research and Evalu-
ation Study revealed that aggressive behaviors were stable from infancy
through toddlerhood, and that, for Caucasian families, maternal spank-
ing was associated with parental reports of aggressive behaviors (Stacks,
Oshio, Gerard, & Roe, 2009). In contrast, parents who actively supported
their toddler’s autonomy had children with greater executive function-
ing, including impulse control (Bernier, Carlson, & Whipple, 2010). What
other parenting behaviors might help young children develop an internal
locus of control? In a research study, mothers were asked to hold con-
versations with their preschool child about peer conflicts involving rela-
tional aggression. Those conversations were coded for coaching skills
such as maternal elaboration, emotion references, and discussion of norm
violations. They found that mothers with average to high levels of coach-
ing skills about peer conflicts were associated with children’s decreasing
displays of relational aggression over a one-year period (Werner, Eaton,
Lyle, Tseng, & Holst, 2014). What early childhood educators should take
away from this research is that (1) all children, regardless of their ages,
need to feel a sense of power over their lives; (2) the characteristics of
the adult-child relationship relates to the child’s self-regulation capabili-
ties; and (3) building an internal locus of control during the infant-toddler
period is easier than attempting to replace an external locus of control in
the future.

Development of an internal locus of control requires that caregivers
respect the right of young children to make many choices within their
environment, including choosing their behavior. Many effective strategies
are available for developing an internal locus of control. The next section
provides an explanation of two guidance strategies that can be used to
assist young children in communicating about their emotions—skills that
will help build a strong foundation for more competent and self-regulated
interactions with others.

6-3a Labeling expressed emotions
Caregivers should label feeling states from the time children are born. A
good way to teach states is to verbalize your own feelings and your impres-
sions of others’ feelings. “I’m feeling rushed today,” “Jaime seems sad,”
and “You really look excited!” are examples of labeling feeling states or
emotional talk (Marion, 2014). Teachers should also model and mirror
feeling states. Giving children feedback by repeating their words or mim-
icking their facial expressions helps to develop self-awareness and sensi-
tivity to other people’s feelings.

Feelings are inborn, but emotional reactions are learned. It is impor-
tant to teach young children to identify their feeling states accurately and
express those feelings in healthy ways. It is often easy to determine the
emotions of even young infants. For example, young babies often “beam”
when happy, have a “tantrum” when frustrated or angry, and “coo and

emotional talk Labeling
feeling states to help young
children understand their
emotions and how they are
expressing them.

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smile” when happy and at ease. Caregivers should label feeling states for
nonverbal infants, and as young children develop language, they should
be taught to label and express their emotions accurately. One effective tool
for helping young children pay attention to and identify feelings is to use
a chart such as the one shown in Figure 6–2. This chart illustrates five
primary emotions—Happy, At Ease, Sad, Angry, and Afraid—and can be
used to help children accurately label their internal feelings. All human
emotions are normal and are therefore healthy; a feeling state is neither
bad nor good. The main goal is to help children be consciously aware of
their feelings and to express them in ways that are helpful to them and not
harmful to others.

The ultimate goal of affective education is for children to identify their
own body responses and discuss when they started to experience a feeling.
This gradual process starts with bringing attention to the child’s internal
state and labeling the child’s feelings. Often the physical meter for chil-
dren’s feeling states are their whole bodies as they respond to different
situations. A skilled observer can easily identify children who are experi-
encing different emotions by their body language. Share your observations
with the children. Ask children how their bodies feel. State the feeling you
sense with nonverbal children and infants and connect it to the nonverbal
cues they are displaying. To illustrate, you can say, “I think you are at ease
because you are concentrating hard on putting the puzzle together. Your
body is relaxed.”

At other times, you want them to learn to connect their feelings with
symbols of those feelings. When you see a child expressing an emotion,
show him or her the five faces (Happy, At Ease, Sad, Angry, and Afraid).
Identify afraid, and point to it, saying, “You’re afraid.” If the child indicates

FIGURE 6–2 ◗ Feelings Chart

Happy

At Ease

Sad

Angry Afraid

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agreement, say “Yes, that’s right; you feel afraid because of that loud noise.”
Showing the children a picture of the face and saying, “You look like this
picture,” assists them with associating their internal state with the face
symbol over time. Children will eventually be able to point to the picture
and identify this state for themselves.

As the previous paragraphs indicate, good caregiving is emotion-
centered, meaning that children’s emotions are viewed as natural, valid,
and important (Hyson, 2004). Children need adult assistance to express
their feelings in positive ways. To facilitate expression of emotions in a pos-
itive way, accept all emotions and the need to express them as normal. Tod-
dlers are filled with energy, extremely curious, and very busy exploring
their world. This often leads to frustration and all the unbridled emotions
that go with learning how to handle new experiences. Conflicts arise from
not getting what they want immediately.

A primary caregiver must use strategies that address not only the short-
term situation but also long-term goals, such as finding appropriate ways
to express and manage strong emotions. Distracting the child, involving
him or her in a special project, or giving the child special attention may
be effective strategies to alleviate emotions in the short run, but they do
not assist with acquiring important skills associated with emotional intel-
ligence (see Chapter 3). Therefore, you need to consider carefully which
strategies to employ in a given situation to balance immediate needs with
more long-term learning and development.

An excellent example of needing to be careful when selecting instruc-
tional strategies occurs when a toddler has a temper tantrum. Toddlers
are known for expressing strong emotions such as frustration and anger
through tantrums. These episodes are very scary for a young child. Using
emotional talk at the first sign of the emotion can often alleviate the
child’s feeling of being emotionally overwhelmed and prevent a tantrum
in the first place. However, when a child does have a temper tantrum,
make sure all furniture and harmful objects are out of the way. Remove
undue attention from her until she is through, ask her privately to tell
you what she felt if she can verbalize, and then welcome her into the
group again. Articulate your observations of the child’s emotional state
and how it changed over the episode. For example, you could say, “You
were very angry with me. I wouldn’t let you paint. You like to paint. It
must’ve been frightening when you were so out of control. Now you are
calm.” This is the most appropriate way to deal with tantrum behavior
after it has started because it doesn’t cause further emotional harm to the
child. This calm approach communicates that the child is still impor-
tant to the teacher and the group. It is important that adults never hold
a grudge against a child. This only demonstrates their lack of emotional
skills. If they become overwhelmed by the intensity of the situation, then
they should find a way to regain their emotional balance and return to a
state of at ease.

6-3b teaching emotional regulation
Teaching infants and toddlers to soothe themselves and manage their emo-
tions, known as emotional regulation, may be the single most challenging

emotion-centered children’s
emotions are viewed as natural,
valid, and an important part of
the curriculum.

emotional regulation Learning
to control and manage strong
emotions in a socially and
culturally acceptable manner.

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InFAnts And dIvOrce

Divorce is difficult and can have long-term outcomes
for a child of any age. However, given the importance
of infants and caregivers establishing a healthy attach-
ment, the impact of divorce on very young children
should not be overlooked. This Spotlight on Research
box will examine possible correlates of divorce as well
as some consequences of divorce for infants.

As modern technologies assist with infertility issues
and increase the survival rate of very low birth weight
(VLBW) babies, families can experience increased
financial and psychological stress. Of course, families
respond differently when facing the birth of a VLBW
child. For some, it brings the family members closer
together. For others, it causes a change in the roles of
the family members. Mothers, for example, may not con-
tinue or seek employment as they assume more respon-
sibility for caring for the infant. Still, for other families,
the stress becomes too great, and they seek a divorce.
Swaminathan, Alexander, and Boulet (2006) found that
the occurrence of divorce or separation following the
birth of a VLBW infant was twofold greater compared
to parents whose infants were born at greater than 1,500
grams. At “two years after the birth of a VLBW infant,
approximately 90 percent of the marriages were still
intact, while 95 percent of the marriages remained sta-
ble for families with a non-VLBW infant” (Swaminathan
et al., 2006, p. 476). In addition, whether or not the preg-
nancy was wanted significantly impacted the occurrence
of divorce. Specifically, those parents who reported
that the pregnancy was unwanted had an 84 percent
chance of their marriage being intact at two years post-
delivery. Given the consequences of divorce for children
and adults, “family-oriented policies and programs are
[needed] to assure that families with VLBW infants have
more reasonable prospects of staying intact and being
self-sufficient” (Swaminathan et al., 2006, p. 478).

Family situations leading up to and following a
divorce are complex. The difficulty of the situation is
felt by everyone involved. Infants and toddlers clearly
do not understand what is happening around them on
a cognitive level, but they do experience it on an emo-
tional level. Solchany (2007) used three case studies
to discover that infants also experience divorce on a
physical level. Growth, as measured by height, weight,
and head circumference, was monitored at each well-
baby checkup. Each of the three infants in the study
experienced growth faltering or a failure to grow at

the expected rate of development. Although each fam-
ily had different custodial arrangements, all of them
experienced high conflict and a deterioration of com-
munication. At some point, each of the three babies
refused to eat and experienced difficulties with breast-
feeding as well as sleep disruptions (Solchany, 2007).
When these families were referred to infant mental
health services, and visitation schedules were altered
to reflect the needs of the child more, two of the three
infants showed some recovery growth. The author
concluded that

Divorce impacts all children, but infants are especially vul-
nerable to emotional and physical effects. Professionals—
medical, mental health, and legal—as well as parents need
to be aware of these possible effects and take proper steps
to protect the well-being of infants in the midst of their
parents’ divorces. (p. 40)

Research has substantiated the positive impact of both
mothers and fathers on developmental outcomes for
infants and toddlers. When adults dissolve a marriage,
it is necessary for them to devise ways for both par-
ents to remain active in the child’s life. Sano, Smith,
and Lanigan (2011) found that the ability to main-
tain a positive adult-adult relationship in the midst
of a divorce predicted greater father involvement in
infants’ lives. Unfortunately, even for adults who can
maintain such positive relationships, the court system
is the entity that more often than not determines how
involved a parent can be in the postdivorce life of very
young children. As the adults are the ones participat-
ing in the court proceedings, it is not inconceivable
that rulings are made in their interests and not the
child’s. Lee, Kaufman, and George (2009) theorized
that conflicted divorce might lead to more instances of
disorganized attachment, especially if caregiving capa-
bilities of parents aren’t considered by the courts when
making custody decisions. Investigating the situation
of overnight visitation by nonresident parents, Strous
(2011) concluded, from the perspective of attachment
theory, that

. . . the necessity for overnight contact may be more a case
of parental or legal demands than in the best interests
of the child. In instances where a very young child’s
relationship with a secondary attachment figure can be
adequately safeguarded through regular, non-prolonged
contact, insisting on overnight access that is more pro-
tracted than daytime contact may be a case of overkill.
(p. 203)

Spotlight on Research

(continued)

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This debate is far from over, as a recent research pro-
vided a mixed view of outcomes for infants. For exam-
ple, McIntosh, Smyth, and Kelaher’s (2013) finding
supported an association between a greater number of
shared overnight and lower levels of emotional regula-
tion for children aged 0–1 and 2–3, when controlling for

parenting style, parental conflict, and socioeconomic
factors. In contrast, a meta-analysis of 11 research arti-
cles concluded that overnight stays with the father
were not associated with negative outcomes for infants
and toddlers and was actually associated with positive
outcomes for preschoolers (Nielsen, 2014).

Spotlight on Research (continued)

task a caregiver faces. Infants and toddlers, like all other humans, are
unique in the ways in which they express their emotions. As discussed
previously, this can be related to their temperament (see Chapter 3), family,
community, and culture. Professional early childhood educators honor this
individuality when they modify their curriculum to build on each child’s
preferences and strengths (Hyson, 2004).

Infants rely almost exclusively on other people for their need fulfill-
ment, so they are not developmentally prepared at birth to soothe them-
selves. They must gradually learn that they can calm and soothe themselves
through the feedback provided by their caregivers. Recall the three As from
Chapter 4. Professional early childhood educators who sensitively admin-
ister the three As and systematically teach children to use the three As for
themselves promote and develop self-soothing.

You should encourage children’s actions and help them manage emo-
tions as they progress toward set goals. For example, when a child indi-
cates the desire to hold an object and finally succeeds after trying several
times with your help, the work is validated in a sense of achievement by
your attention, approval, and attunement. This builds a feeling of confi-
dence and a willingness to try the next time when the child reaches for the
same object. The child may attempt the task on his own, or he may look for
your encouragement or help, but eventually he will feel confident enough
to succeed without your help.

Appropriate words of encouragement help children of all ages. Timing
of when to give approval depends on the needs of the child. The child may
start out wanting something but becomes too tired to finish. If the child is
too tired, the primary need must be cared for first (holding the child until
he or she goes to sleep). After the primary needs have been met, children
will once again bring their attention to other activities.

Early childhood educators can help build strong self-images for the
toddlers in their care. By being good role models and using reinforcing,
positive self-talk, they can build language for the child to adopt. Positive
self-talk is the internalization of messages we hear about ourselves from
others. These messages represent how children feel about themselves and
what they are capable of over time. If the messages are positive and encour-
aging, the child will become confident, but if they are negative, the child
feels limited in the ability to succeed. These messages become the belief
system of the child and the foundation for self-concept and future success
or failure.

self-soothing comforting and
making oneself at ease.

positive self-talk the
internalization of positive
messages we hear about
ourselves from others.

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TABLE 6–2 ◗ Approval Validates Mastery

CHILD BEHAVIOR CAREGIVER RESPONSE OUTCOME

1. eyes an object observes child caregiver attention

2. reaches for object encourages with words such as “You can
do it.”

approval for mastery attempt; increased
child motivation

3. l ooks at caregiver; tries to grasp
objects again

continues to encourage, softly saying “Try
again; you can do it!” models success

approval for mastery attempt; increased
child motivation

4. successfully grasps object compliments effort, makes eye contact,
makes gentle hug

approval and affection for mastery
of task

5. smiles and shows excitement—brings
object to mouth

says “Nice job! I knew you could do it!”
give three As

validation of mastery; observable
self-approval

Scaffolding, or building sets of ideas and demonstrating how to use them,
can be used to promote positive self-talk. Table 6–2 illustrates how scaf-
folding works when approval sustains the infant’s attention. This approval
validates children’s mastery of their environment. Children internalize the
validation they hear and make it their own as you reduce feedback.

6-4 Self-Regulation as a Foundation
for Perspective-Taking
Successful relationships and social acceptance depend on controlling
impulses for actions and words that could harm another as well as devel-
oping an awareness of other people’s perspectives. Children must learn
to act without harming themselves, others, or the environment because
internal controls are not innate. Children need to be taught the foundations
of perspective-taking skills to have successful, positive relationships
(Photo 6–3).

One way of helping children is to explain how their behavior may
make others feel. By announcing out loud how others are reacting to a
given behavior, you help all of the children involved begin to understand
the others’ perspectives. For instance, Ms. Barbara works in a licensed fam-
ily child care center. She waits for 3-year-old Eroj to come home from the
Head Start center at the bus stop with his 2-year-old sister Inara. She greets
Eroj with a smile and hug. His sister is happy to see him too. He has his art
projects in both hands, but drops them when he hugs Ms. Barbara. Inara
grabs the papers and, in the excitement of the moment, she crumples one
of them. Eroj becomes angry and yells at his sister, who starts to cry. As
Ms. Barbara helps him gather up his work, she places Inara on her hip and
places her hand firmly on Eroj’s shoulder. She says to him, “I’m so sorry

perspective-taking Acquiring
the skills for recognizing and
responding to the perspectives
of others; not a skill to be
expected of infants and
toddlers, but the foundations
for skills should be set.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
question about the material discussed so far.

1. What strategies can be used to support communication about emotions?

R E A D I N G
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you dropped your papers. I can tell that you worked so hard on them (look-
ing at papers he is showing her while walking). You should be proud of
them. When we get back, you can show everyone your work and then put
them on the wall if you like.”

To show Inara’s perspective, Ms. Barbara continues by saying, “You know,
Eroj, Inara did not mean to crumple your papers. I know she misses you when
you go to school because several times during the day she stands by the door
and says your name. She loves you and wants to be with you. I don’t think
that she meant to crumple your paper. She just got so excited to see you.”

This example has a very specific theme. The teacher provided Eroj
and Inara information they would not have had and dealt with them in a
very careful way. She greeted Eroj warmly, validated his feelings of anger
and self-worth, soothed his sister by picking her up, and discussed the
situation openly and honestly with both children. She expressed positive
observations about their relationship. In addition, the teacher was acting as
Inara’s advocate.

Caregivers can offer similar comfort to very young children by using
statements like, “Oh, I know Michael didn’t mean to knock down your
block pile, Dori; he just lost his balance.” The key to successful use of this
strategy is to know the child, know the facts of the situation, and communi-
cate, as best as possible, the intentions and actions of the people involved.

While very young children may be able to consider another child’s
perspective with assistance, it is inappropriate to expect them to do so
independently. The goal of your behaviors is not to teach them how to
take someone’s perspective but rather to lay a foundation for it because
acquiring perspective-taking skills is a long, arduous task that lasts through
adulthood.

PhOTO 6–3 Animals help toddlers learn perspective-taking skills and
responsibility.

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6-4a Setting Limits
After children become mobile, they must learn to accept “no” about cer-
tain behaviors. Adults must help them learn that some behaviors are not
acceptable, while recognizing ourselves that many of their behaviors are
the result of acting on their natural instinct to explore their world (Walsh,
2007). For example, a mobile infant should be firmly—but kindly—told,
“No. Leave the trash in the can,” if she were reaching for an item that had
been disposed of. However, the number of behaviors they must accept “no”
to is much smaller than many adults demand. The main principle to use
in selecting which behaviors children must accept “no” to is to start with
only those behaviors that are directly harmful to themselves, other people,
or property.

Limits and rules, while they help children to accept “no” about certain
behaviors, are best followed if stated positively. Let the children know
what to do in as specific language as possible (Marion, 2014). When you
see an infant pulling on the lamp to stand, say, “Couches are for pulling up
on” and move the child to the couch. Your behavior will help the child
construct an understanding of safe furniture for pulling on. Limits, then,
are for stopping inappropriate behaviors and replacing them with more
appropriate ones.

Not enough can be said about the importance of stating limits posi-
tively. Many children spend time in classrooms where all limits start with
the word no. This not only cre-
ates a negative environment (who
wants to be told no all of the time?)
but also does not teach the children
the behaviors that will help them
be successful. They are told not to
run, so they hop. They are told not
to hop, so they crawl. It seems as
if they are playing a guessing game
with the adult. When adults want
children to do something, it is best
to state, positively and directly,
expectations for a desired behav-
ior. For example, if you want tod-
dlers to park their tricycles on the
cement slab beside the toy shed,
then tell them: “It is time to put the
tricycles up. Park them at the sign
beside the toy shed.”

While each classroom and
early childhood program needs
rules or limits, these should be
few in number (Photo 6–4). Infants
and toddlers typically lack the cog-
nitive skills to recall more than a
few limits (Marion, 2014). Even
with a few rules, however, teachers

limits positively worded
statements about desired or
acceptable behavior that help
children acquire appropriate
behaviors for a particular
setting.

PhOTO 6–4 There should be classroom rules and limits, but there
shouldn’t be too many. Teachers should remind children of the
rules to support memory and understanding.

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should not expect the toddlers to remember them. Pure recall is the most
challenging type of memory skill to develop, taking several years. There-
fore, educators should make the effort to remind the children of the rules
gently as preventative measures. For example, if you notice that Kennedy
is looking out the window and getting excited because she sees her grand-
mother coming to pick her up, you could say, “Let’s walk to the door to
greet her.” This gentle reminder assists Kennedy both in walking and in
expressing her love toward her grandmother.

6-4b establishing Consequences
After limits have been defined, discussed, and modeled, consequences
for each limit need to be established. The most effective consequences
for learning appropriate behaviors are natural and logical (Marion, 2014).
Natural consequences are those outcomes that occur without teacher inter-
vention. Elisabetta runs through the block area of the classroom, trips over
a wooden truck, and falls on the carpet. She is surprised but unhurt. Elisa-
betta has experienced a natural consequence of running in the classroom.
Early childhood educators cannot allow all natural consequences to occur
because they are too dangerous. Permitting a toddler to fall (i.e., experienc-
ing a natural consequence) because he climbed over the top railing of the
climbing structure is obviously not acceptable.

Logical consequences are outcomes that are related to the limit but
would not occur on their own. For example, your rule is for the children to
put their toys back on the shelf when they are done. If a child does not put
her puzzle back on the shelf after being reminded, she will not be able to
choose another activity until the first one is cleaned up.

Establishing consequences helps young children become autonomous,
self-regulated individuals. Toddlers should be allowed and even encour-
aged to voice their own opinions and have a say in what happens to them.
Unfortunately, this developmental phase is often referred to as the “terri-
ble twos.” This important period of personality and self-development is
mislabeled as “terrible” by controlling adults who have difficulty accept-
ing children saying “no” to them. It is vital that children be allowed to
say “no” to teachers and other adults to develop a healthy sense of self.
Caregivers who do not accept “no” from a child when he is not harm-
ing himself, others, or property do great harm to the child’s sense of self-
responsibility. Young children must learn to make decisions and establish
boundaries with other people. Two additional guidance strategies to use
with children who say “no” to practically everything are giving choices
and redirection.

6-4c providing Choices
People learn to make wise choices by being able to choose. Caregivers
who give children choices that they can handle for their age avoid many
confrontations and teach children to choose wisely (Marion, 2014). Yes/
no questions are often problematic, as is a statement that commands the
child. For example, “Do you want lunch?” is likely to result in “no,” as is
the statement “You’re going to eat your lunch now.” A much more effective

consequences the natural
and/or logical outcomes of
actions.

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approach is to give a choice, such as “Do you want a banana or apple
slices with your grilled cheese sandwich? You choose.” Much research has
been conducted investigating the impact of choice on internal control and
motivation.

In a meta-analysis of 41 research studies, Patall, Cooper, and Rob-
inson (2008) found that choice does have a positive impact on internal
motivation as well as effort, performance, and perceived competence. In
addition, choices that allowed for the expression of individuality (e.g.,
what color of paper or pens to use) were particularly powerful motivators.
Moreover, “the largest positive effect of choice on intrinsic motivation
was found when participants made two to four choices in a single experi-
mental manipulation” (Patall et al., 2008, p. 295). Thus, it seems that hav-
ing too few choices does not allow children to feel a sense of control over
their environment, while having too many may result in cognitive over-
load. Although none of the research studies included in the meta-analyses
specifically studied infants and toddlers, the results are nonetheless
instructional for teachers of very young children. Early childhood educa-
tors need to consider when they are providing choices throughout their
day and how many choices are being provided at any one given time. In
addition, the choices need to teach the children a sense of self-control
and self-responsibility while encouraging self-expression. In general,
providing choices increases people’s internal motivation to complete
a task because they feel they are more in control of their destiny (Patall
et al., 2008). This is the exact outcome we seek for young children: they
will learn that they are powerful people with opinions to share. In other
words, providing choices fosters the development of young children’s
self-efficacy.

6-4d redirecting actions
There are two different types of redirection strategies (Marion, 2014).
First, you can divert and distract a young child’s attention to safe and
acceptable activities to prevent confrontations. This strategy is useful for
very young children with underdeveloped object permanence because
for them out-of-sight is equivalent to out-of-mind. Older toddlers are
not always so easy to distract because they can continue to think about
the desired object even if they cannot see it. For example, if you take
a young child into a setting with many breakable objects, diverting the
child’s attention to objects and activities in the setting that are not break-
able can avoid problems. Your attention and interest most often evokes
interest on the child’s part, so rather than attending to all the breakable
things, pay attention and draw the child into activities that are safe and
appropriate.

The second type of redirection involves finding a substitute activ-
ity based on the child’s underlying desire. If a toddler is chewing on a
wooden block, find her a teething ring to chew on. If a child wants to
climb and jump from the shelf, take him outside to jump. Redirecting
attention to the appropriate location recognizes children’s underlying
needs and can help them learn to monitor and regulate their expression of
emotions (Hyson, 2004).

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6-4e Solving problems
Infants and toddlers encounter problems frequently throughout their day.
These can originate from physical objects, their abilities or lack thereof,
and interactions with others. Although some adults may not recognize all
of these situations as problems to be solved, it can be helpful to reframe
their issues in this way. Doing so often makes adults and young children
feel more powerful and directly in control of outcomes.

Consider this example. Susanna, 7 months old, awakes from her morn-
ing nap. Her teacher, Yu-Wen, picks her up while saying soothing words.
Susanna begins to cry in earnest. Yu-Wen shifts positions and decides to
check her diaper even though it was a short nap, but she is dry. Yu-Wen
offers Susanna a bottle, but she refuses it. Then she holds her while gently
swaying back and forth, a motion that Susanna typically likes, but not right
now. Her crying intensifies. After 20 minutes of trying to solve the problem
and strained emotions, Yu-Wen asks her co-teacher if she will take Susanna
for a few minutes while she goes to get a drink of cold water. Yu-Wen uses
that time to regain her composure and decides to try a strategy that she
recently read about in a teacher journal. She prepares a soft blanket on the
floor with two soft toys on it. She takes Susanna from her co-teacher and
places her tummy up on the blanket. Susanna continues to cry, but the
intensity lessens. Within a few moments she is staring at her feet; a small
smile plays on the corner of her lips. Yu-Wen is pleased that the strategy
of giving children the freedom to move to solve their own problem worked
(Gonzalez-Mena, 2007).

Toddlers are moving from being dependent to being independent; from
wanting to play alone to playing parallel or even cooperatively with oth-
ers; and from thinking simplistically to thinking in more complex ways.
All of these developmental advances provide them many opportunities to
problem solve. Because toddlers are more skilled than infants, they should
be more involved in the problem-solving process. The following are guide-
lines for how to solve a problem (Epstein, 2007; Marion, 2014; Swim &
Marion, 2006):

1. Describe what you saw; have children verify if you are accurate.

2. Ask yes/no questions to engage children in the process of identifying
and labeling the problem to be solved.

3. Volunteer an idea, choice, or solution to the problem.

4. Help the children select one solution.

5. Help the children implement the solution.

6. Ask yes/no questions to reflect on whether or not the solution worked
for everyone.

As with the other guidance strategies described in this chapter, teach-
ers are always the “more knowledgeable others,” to use Vygotsky’s term,
and thus must assume the responsibility for providing children with nec-
essary language and processes for solving problems.

Not all problems can be solved quickly. Change takes time for every-
one. You should not try to solve all problems independently; seek
guidance from colleagues or your director. As part of creating positive,

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reciprocal relationships with families, you should also seek their input
and guidance. For example, if an infant or toddler shows signs of discom-
fort for more than two hours, family members should be consulted. The
goal of this conversation is to obtain more information and to seek advice
on additional strategies that work for them. As demonstrated earlier, pro-
fessional teacher journals are another source of information on ways to
solve problems.

As you are guiding the behavior of young children, remember that
achieving social and emotional competence is a long journey. Do not expect
perfection from yourself, the families, or the children. Observe what the
children can do on their own and what they can do with assistance (i.e.,
identify their zones of proximal development). Then, use teaching strat-
egies to scaffold them to the next level of development. Persistent, small
gains add up to big changes over time.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
question about the material discussed so far.

1. List and explain three strategies for positively guiding and supporting the
development of very young children’s self-regulation skills.

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

Creating a caring community of learners is an
important aspect of the work that teachers of infants
and toddlers do. This involves building positive
relationships with each child and using positive
guidance strategies to facilitate the development of
self-regulation and socially acceptable behaviors.

6-1 Explain the philosophy and principles of the
Reggio Emilia approach.
The philosophy of the schools in Reggio Emilia,
Italy, challenges teachers to reflect on and recog-
nize in their practice concepts such as the image
of the child. Inserimento is a collaborative process
used in Italy for transitioning infants and toddlers
to an educational program.

6-2 Summarize a developmental perspective on
child guidance.
Two mental models were presented as ways to
take a developmental view of discipline.

6-3 Apply strategies for communicating with very
young children about emotions.
Teachers should help each and every child come
to understand their emotions and the emotions
of others. Infant and toddler teachers help to set
a strong foundation for self-regulation by label-
ing emotions and teaching emotional regulation
skills.

6-4 Match methods for helping children gain self-
regulation skills to a situation.
Self-regulation skills serve as a foundation for
perspective-taking skills. While infants and tod-
dlers can demonstrate perspective-taking skills
with assistance, they should not be expected to
do so independently. Strategies such as setting
limits, providing choices, and redirecting inap-
propriate behaviors help children learn to regu-
late their own behavior.

Summary

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“Should I call her mother again?” Enrique, a toddler
teacher, asks his co-teacher as Regina struggles to free
herself from his gentle hold. Regina has just bit the
same peer for the second time today.

“Yes, I think you should. We could use some infor-
mation.” Although Regina is 27 months old, this is her
first time attending child care.

Enrique calls to share how happy he is to have
Regina in his classroom. He asks Ms. Gonzalez what
strategies they use when she is upset. She provides him
several things to try.

Ms. Gonzalez arrives about 30 minutes earlier than
normal for pickup looking frazzled and upset. Enrique
greets her and tells her that her suggestion to sing qui-
etly worked wonders. He also asks if she came early
because of the phone call. They discuss how the call
was not intended to upset her but rather was to gather
more information to help Regina.

They move closer to Regina who is working by herself
at a table lining up clowns. Enrique and Ms. Gonzalez
take a few moments to watch her work. Regina method-
ically lines the clowns around the perimeter of a piece
of construction paper. She seems not to notice the other
activities around her. The other children have divided
themselves into two groups, working with blocks and
pouring water through waterwheels.

Enrique asks Ms. Gonzalez what she is noticing. She
replies by asking, “Does she usually play alone?”

“No. She typically works in the same area as other
children. This is expected because as children get older,

they usually begin to play in small groups. Regina’s
interactions with the other children sometimes result in
her biting them, like today. I am wondering if you can
tell me how she interacts with you and your husband
at home.”

“We usually interact with her. If we ask her a ques-
tion, she will nod yes or no. She is very quiet and does
not seem to have many wants. But, if she does want
something, she will point at the object.”

“I’m wondering if she is biting because she does
not have the language to tell her classmates what she
wants. I’m also wondering what I can do to best help
her. Can we both take some time to think about Regina
and meet early next week to talk further?”

“That would be nice. Is it okay if my husband comes
also?” inquires Ms. Gonzalez.

“Of course. Let me know what times work best for
your schedules. And, thank you so much for making
the extra time in your schedule to speak with me today.
The more we work together, the better we can support
Regina’s needs.”

1. How did Enrique’s approach serve to value the
relationships among Mr. and Ms. Gonzalez, Regina,
and himself?

2. Describe what you believe is Enrique’s image of
the child. What information from the case did you
use when drawing this conclusion?

3. What strategies would you suggest Enrique use to
support Regina’s acquisition of socially accepted
behaviors? Why?

Regina’s Biting BehaviorsC a S e S t u D Y

Lesson Plan
title: Where can I ride my trike?
Child Observation:

Forrest (32 months old) is outside riding a tricycle
on the cement path. He veers off the path and rides the
trike through the sand area. When asked to get back
on the cement path, Forrest screams “no” and tightly
grabs the handlebar.

Child’s Developmental Goal:

To develop an internal locus of control

To follow a limit

Materials: Tricycle, “Tricycles Stay on the Path” sign
on a stand or otherwise able to be displayed in sand
area.

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Preparation: Place “Tricycles Stay on the Path” sign
on the edge of the sand area.

Learning Environment:

1. When you take the children outside, invite Forrest
to look at the sign by saying, for example:
a. I put this sign out just for you. It says “Tricy-

cles Stay on the Path.” That means the tricycle
should stay on the cement path (point to path).
The sand is for walking and playing.

2. If Forrest wants to ride the tricycle, assist him with
putting on his helmet, if necessary.

3. Stand near the sign so that you can talk with For-
rest when he drives by the area. To illustrate, you
could say:
a. You are riding fast on the trike path.
b. The trike rides better on the concrete, doesn’t it?

4. If Forrest begins to ride in the sand, remind him of
the limit, by saying, for example:
a. Ride the tricycle on the cement path.

5. When first possible, talk with Forrest about how
he followed the limit. Engage him to think about
when he stayed on the path and when he wanted to
ride in the sand. Discuss how he showed impulse
control—define that in a simple way such as, “You
wanted to ride in the sand but stopped because it
was not the right thing to do at the time.”

Guidance Consideration:

If Forrest begins to violate the rule and tries to drive the
tricycle in the sand, get on his level and stop the trike.
Start the problem-solving process by saying, “We have
a problem that we need to solve. I want the tricycle rid-
den on the cement path, and you want to ride in the
sand. What can we do to solve this?” Engage in the next
steps of the problem solving process with Forrest.

Variations:

Introduce a new area for riding the tricycle and state
the rules for that location.

Additional Resources
Brodey, D. (2007). The elephant in the playroom: Ordi-

nary parents write intimately and honestly about
the extraordinary highs and heartbreaking lows of
raising kids with special needs. New York: Hudson
Street Press.

Feeney, S. (2012). Professionalism in early childhood
education: Doing our best for young children.
Boston: Pearson Education.

Medina, J. (2014). Brain rules for baby: How to raise a
smart and happy child from zero to five (updated
and expanded). Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Pfieffer, J. (2013). Dude, you’re a dad!: How to get (all
of you) through your baby’s first year. Fort Collins,
CO: Adams Media.

Weissbourd, R. (2009). The parents we mean to be: How
well-intentioned adults undermine children’s moral
and emotional development. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin Harcourt.

Professional Resource Download

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© 2017 Cengage Learning

C h a p t e r

Supportive Communication
with Families and Colleagues

Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

7-1 Understand the active listening
process and other skills for effective
communication.

7-2 Develop procedures for informal and
formal communication with families.

7-3 Describe specific family situations that
might require additional support.

7-4 Analyze your own skills when
communicating with colleagues.

Standards Addressed
in This Chapter

NaeYC Standards
for early Childhood professional
preparation

2 Building Family and Community
Relationships

6 Becoming a Professional

Developmentally appropriate
practice Guidelines

5 Establishing reciprocal relationships with
families

In addition, the NAEYC standards for develop-
mentally appropriate practice are divided into
six areas particularly important to infant/toddler
care. The following area is addressed in this
chapter: reciprocal relationship with families.

7

148

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Caregivers and family members* have a common goal: to provide high-
quality experiences for children. When children are being cared for by some-
one other than an immediate family member, all persons involved must join
in partnership to achieve this goal. The fifth guideline for developmentally
appropriate practice as outlined by NAEYC is “establishing reciprocal rela-
tionships with families” (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009). Recognizing the com-
plexity of this guideline is necessary for beginning teachers. Oversimplifying
and regarding the objective as just parent education on the one hand, or total
parent control on the other, minimizes the role of the teacher in joining with
parents to provide the best care and education for their very young children.
The primary components of this guideline are highlighted here.

●● Reciprocal relationships require mutual respect, cooperation, shared
responsibility, and negotiation of conflicts to achieve shared goals.

●● Frequent two-way communication must be established and maintained
between early childhood teachers and families.

●● Families are welcomed into the program and invited to participate in
decisions about their children’s care and education as well as program
decisions.

●● Family members’ choices and goals are responded to with sensitivity
and respect, without abdicating professional responsibility.

●● Teachers and families share their knowledge of the child, including assess-
ment information, to maximize everyone’s decision-making abilities.

●● Professionals having educational responsibility for a child should, with
family participation, share information (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009).

My experiences with preservice teachers and beginning educators
demonstrate that building relationships with families can provoke fear.
“I’m comfortable with children, not adults” is a common statement. Thus,
this chapter is devoted to assisting you in considering this topic more in
depth and developing the skills to be successful.

Effective communication between caregivers and families and among
the early childhood program staff is a must. Communication is a two-
way process. It requires listening, empathy, and effective expression of
thoughts and feelings. The nonverbal, emotional messages that are sent in
the questions asked and the statements made will either help or hinder
successful communication. We must listen to uncover cultural diversity
because families differ in how they communicate (Christian, 2006). The
attitudes, beliefs, and biases caregivers and families have toward each
other are reflected through the communication process. The goal of coming
to understand our own and the families’ cultures is to communicate effec-
tively about children’s strengths and needs, not to change the children or
the families (Im, Parlakian, & Sánchez, 2007).

To be an effective caregiver, it is necessary to communicate well with chil-
dren, families, colleagues, professionals, and other adults. “Communication

*In this chapter, the terms family, families, family member, and family members will be used
interchangeably to refer to people who interact with and impact the learning and development
of infants and toddlers in their home settings. These terms should be understood to include
mother(s), father(s), legal guardian(s), grandparent(s), sibling(s), aunt(s), uncle(s), and so on.
The term parent or parents is used to refer specifically to a mother and/or a father.

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between parents and child care center staff is clearly integral to trust, yet it
is complicated by differing communication styles and expectations, as well
as by emotions” (Reedy & McGrath, 2010, p. 353). This chapter teaches you
important communication skills such as rapport building, “I statements,”
and active listening. These skills will assist you in communicating success-
fully with other people in a sensitive and accepting style. Practicing these
skills will help you listen to and understand others and be able to express
yourself so that other people will understand and accept what you say.

7-1 Skills for Effective Communication
Figure 7–1 shows the general communication process. A sender (A) sends a
message verbally and nonverbally to a receiver (B), who interprets the message
and gives the sender feedback as to what the message means to the receiver.

7-1a rapport Building
Rapport is an agreement between two people that establishes a sense of har-
mony. This harmonious agreement with infants and toddlers has been dis-
cussed in previous chapters as interactional synchrony. When you learn to
build rapport with an adult, just as you’ve done with an infant or toddler, you
must follow the person’s lead while you carefully observe his or her move-
ments. Think of this as learning to dance well with another person. Rapport
building involves two components: calibrating and pacing. Calibrating means
carefully observing the specific steps, and pacing means carefully moving in
harmonious synchrony. Three specific sets of behaviors must be calibrated
and paced for you to build rapport and dance well with another person.

1. Posture. Align yourself in a complementary physical posture with the
adult. If he is sitting, sit also. Change your posture to “dance” with the
person face to face.

2. Nonverbal communication. Listen carefully to the tone of voice, tempo
of speech, and intensity of the physical and emotional undertones of
the gestures. What is the adult trying to tell you? Do the nonverbal
communication strategies match the verbal ones?

3. Representational systems. This set of behaviors is hardest to learn to
calibrate and pace because it includes all ways that the adult represents
his or her beliefs, perceptions, and understanding of the world. These
systems are culturally based, so it is imperative that you spend con-
siderable time learning how culture influences communication for the
families with whom you are working.

rapport an agreement
between two people that
establishes a sense of harmony.

calibrating carefully observing
the specific behaviors
demonstrated by another during
an interaction to build rapport.

pacing Matching
complementary behavior to
that of another person to build
rapport.

FIGURE 7–1 ◗ The Communication Process

Sender

A.

Receiver

B.

Interpretation

Feedback

©
C

en
ga

ge
L

ea
rn

in
g

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7-1b I Statements versus You Statements
We also communicate to other people from the perspective of expressing
our own thoughts and feelings through I statements, or giving advice or
judgments about the other person by making you statements.

I statements usually start with the word I and express responsibility
for our own perceptions without judging the other person. For example,
“I am angry” is an I statement because it expresses a feeling without blam-
ing another person. You statements are often disrespectful and tell the
other person how he or she is thinking, feeling, or behaving. You state-
ments often start with the word You and offer advice or an opinion about
the other person. For example, “You make me angry” is a you statement
because it offers an opinion about the other person (he or she is doing or
saying something wrong), and it makes the other person responsible for the
speaker’s feeling (anger).

When you want the other person to feel accepted and understood,
make I statements. I statements are respectful and take responsibility for
the speaker’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You statements, on the
other hand, offer opinions, advice, and judgments about the other person
and often close off further communication.

We can also make disguised I and you statements. Disguised you state-
ments sometimes sound like I statements and may even start with the word I,
but they always end up judging or giving advice to the sender. For example,
“I’m angry because you did that” is a disguised you statement because it
blames and judges the other person.

Listen carefully so that you can provide feedback in response to the
other sender’s words. These responses can be disguised I statements when
our feedback clearly takes responsibility for our own perceptions and
map of the world. For example, if a person sends the message, “I can’t
stand Mary, she is always complaining,” a good active listening response
might be, “It sounds like Mary’s complaining is making you feel angry.”
Notice that, although neither I nor you were used, the feedback takes
responsibility for the receiver’s perception by using the words “It sounds
(to me) like . . .” without blaming or criticizing the sender. I statements
keep communication open by giving nonjudgmental feedback, which
allows the sender to confirm that the message was understood (“That’s
right, I really get angry with her”) or correct the message (“Well, I don’t
really get angry, just a little annoyed”). While this form of communication
might seem easy to use, it is not often a component of college students’
active speech competence (Borodachyova, 2011). Therefore, you will
need to practice this skill so that it becomes a natural component in your
communication patterns.

7-1c active Listening: the “how” in Communication
Most common communication errors can be avoided by applying a tech-
nique called active listening, which is “feeding back” the deeper feeling
message (not the words) of the sender in the words of the receiver. This
simple definition of active listening requires further explanation because,
although it may sound simple, it takes practice to learn to give deeper
feedback effectively.

I statements expressions
about one’s own thoughts and
feelings without judging the
other person.

you statements Sentences
that give advice to or judgment
about another person,
often closing off further
communication.

active listening the skill
required to simply “feed back”
the deeper felt message (not
words) of the sender in the
words of the receiver.

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Active listening differs from most common types of communication in
the kind of feedback given to the sender. The two most common types of
feedback are a reaction to the words in the message or a defense of your
position. With either of these types of feedback, the communication pro-
cess is closed off because we become emotionally involved in the words
of the message. Common reactionary feedback messages include “How can
you say that?” “You’re wrong!” and “I don’t think you meant what I heard.”
Defensive feedback might sounds like, “In my classroom, we all nap at the
same time” or “Children should not need a pacifier when they are 3.”

Active listening, on the other hand, involves objectively listening, in
a nondefensive way, for the deeper message of the sender and then giving
reiterating feedback. Rather than reacting to the words of the sender, the
active listener interprets the entire message of the sender and gives it back
to the sender. Because the active listener looks for the deeper message,
most feedback starts with words such as “It sounds like . . . ,” “You seem to
feel . . . ,” “I hear you saying . . . ,” and other phrases that reflect the sender’s
feelings. Beginning feedback in this manner allows the sender to affirm,
reject, or clarify his message. By continuing to feed back the total message
of the sender, the receiver can help the sender clarify the problem and, in
most cases, arrive at his or her own solution.

An active listener also looks at body language. The look on a person’s
face, the position of the body, and what the person does with his or her
hands and arms can help you understand the full message on the deepest
level. Nonverbal behavior, as well as words, feelings, and attitudes, com-
bine to transmit the complete, deep message.

Although active listening may sound simple enough to learn, it requires
practice because most of us have learned to respond with reactionary and
defensive feedback. Whiteman (2013) suggests that using positive commu-
nication strategies such as active listening, being empathetic, and choos-
ing nonconfrontational language is especially important when discussing
difficult topics with family members. These communication strategies can
be learned well by teachers if practiced in classroom settings with fam-
ily members and if given the opportunity to reflect on their effectiveness
(Symeou, Roussounidou, & Michaelides, 2012). Therefore, with continued
practice and analysis, you will find the rewards of active listening worth
the effort it takes to master the technique. The following are some ways to
analyze your communication with others:

1. Listen to the way you now respond to people. Did you react to the
words of messages, or did you listen for the deeper meaning? Did you
listen for the whole, deep message, including the words, feelings, atti-
tudes, and behaviors?

2. Listen to the words you used in your response. Did you judge, criticize,
or blame another?

3. Listen to the message you sent. Did you respond to the message with
advice or personal feelings, or did you seek to understand completely
what the other person thinks and feels?

4. Listen for when you have received the entire message. Did you add
information to a message when you were ready, when the other per-
son directly asked for it, or after that person had completely expressed

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the entire message? You will know you have received the entire mes-
sage when you hear real feelings and concern about what to do. At this
point, questions such as “Have you thought about what you can do?”
or “How would you solve this?” will give the person a chance to ask for
advice or begin problem solving on his or her own.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. What are the benefits of using effective communication skills and why?
2. Compare and contrast two of the communication skills discussed.

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

7-2 Communications with Families
Teachers hold different beliefs about the responsibilities of those involved
in the educational process. Korkmaz (2007) surveyed 148 teachers concern-
ing their beliefs about the responsibilities teachers, parents, and schools
have in facilitating learning. A theme running through the responses was
the importance of communication for all involved parties. More specifi-
cally, she discovered that two-thirds of the teachers believed that parents
should have good communication with teachers. They also thought that
parents should be willing to participate in meetings held at school. When
asked about the responsibilities of the school, 56 percent of the teachers
expressed the importance of the school keeping parents informed about the
progress of their child as well as the curriculum being implemented. Inter-
estingly enough, only 44 percent of the teachers reported their responsi-
bilities to “communicate clearly with students and have positive dialogue
and interactions with them inside and outside the classroom . . . [listening]
attentively to students’ questions, comments, and views” (Korkmaz, 2007,
p. 397). There were no examples provided of teachers saying that they held
responsibility for communicating well with family members.

As you can see, this text deviates from those research results as it
places particular emphasis on the decisive role teachers play in creating a
positive context that supports open and ongoing communication with fam-
ily members and children. Yet, our text does not differ from other research
on “instructional communication competence” (Worley, Titsworth, Worley,
& Cornett-DeVito, 2007) with award-winning teachers who explained and
demonstrated that the use of active listening with students was extremely
important to develop productive relationships. Our text also agrees with
more recent research that found when parents and teachers shared positive
perceptions of their relationship, parents participated in more communi-
cation with the school, and teachers held a more positive view of the child
(Minke, Sheridan, Kim, Ryoo, & Koziol, 2014). Good teaching, at any level,
relies on the skilled use of active listening to build positive relationships.

7-2a Using active Listening with Families
Families tell you much information about their children and themselves
when you have created a welcoming, supportive environment (Photo 7–1).

153chapter 7 Supportive communication with Families and colleagues

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Details about what the child does at
home are needed by the caregiver each
day. Ask open-ended questions, listen
carefully to their responses, and record
the information as soon as possible. In
addition, using active listening helps
caregivers understand families as
they express their concerns and raise
questions about parenting. Family
members are often isolated from other
support systems and need the care-
giver to listen to them and help them
come up with solutions. The next sec-
tions outline five situations in which
active listening can be especially ben-
eficial for families and caregivers.

Gathering Information
Families have a wealth of informa-
tion about their children. For con-
tinuity between home and school,

teachers need to know how the family typically responds to the child’s
needs. Many states require that licensed infant/toddler programs have fam-
ilies complete and regularly update questionnaires that ask about child
characteristics, habits, and preferences, as well as family routines, goals,
and expectations for the child. For example, knowing that Oliver has dif-
ficulty relaxing for a nap if he does not have his favorite blankie with him
and his back patted will help the early childhood educator meet his body’s
needs for sleep.

While questionnaires are effective means for gathering information,
going beyond the minimal requirements will help you form effective
partnerships, meeting the guidelines for developmentally appropriate
practice. Teachers should inquire regularly to gather observations of devel-
opment that family members have noticed at home or other contexts. Use
this information to provide a more complete picture of the child and
her capabilities. Add those observations to yours, and then modify your
understanding as necessary. Such conversations can occur informally
during drop-off and pick-up and include other information about the
child’s experiences at home and school. This feedback helps caregivers
maintain updated information that will shape their reactions to the child’s
behavior. When face-to-face interactions are not possible, home-school
journals, mentioned in Chapter 5, are valuable tools for sharing and gath-
ering information. This two-way communication strategy involves family
members writing a few notes about the child’s day(s) when at home, and
then the caregiver responds with information about the child’s experience
while at the early childhood program. Of course, it is overly optimistic to
think that caregivers and families will write in the journal every day. Yet
those who do this on a regular basis develop a strong sense of partnership
(Gandini, 2001).

PhOTO 7–1 Families will be more willing to share information
about their children and themselves when caregivers create a
welcoming environment.

©
2

01
7

Ce
ng

ag
e

Le
ar

ni
ng

154 part 2 establishing a positive Learning environment

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Sharing Information
Families need information about the daily experiences their child has in
your care. Many tools are available (see Chapter 5) to help organize and
record important things the child has done and share them with family
members. Special experiences, such as the child’s excitement about a visit-
ing rabbit, may go into the written record, or the caregiver may tell a family
member.

The child’s rate and pattern of development should be shared with family
members. Refer to the child’s Developmental Milestones (see Appendix A)
to focus on recent developments and identify developmental tasks the child
may soon be mastering. When communicating effectively with family mem-
bers, deliver this information without using professional jargon, slang, or
fad expressions; any of these can lead to misunderstanding rather than a
common understanding (Clements & Kuperberg, 2008). Moreover, learning
key words in the family’s native language can help reduce misunderstand-
ings, build rapport, and minimize some barriers (Risko & Walker-Dalhouse,
2009). When we share common knowledge about the child and set goals
together, then everyone can do things in her environment that support or
enhance the child’s development. However, when working with families,
you should be clear in emphasizing the difference between facilitating and
pushing the child. Families are often very interested in ideas for appropriate
experiences and homemade toys (see Chapters 11–13; Herr & Swim, 2002).

When you communicate your observations with the family members,
ask questions and use active listening when they share their observations
as well. Mabel may have noticed that her 2-month-old child isn’t distressed
at all by being left at child care, and she wants more information relat-
ing to the effect of child care on young infants. Phyllis may be ready for
information about separation anxiety because Branson is starting to show
distress. Arlene may be interested in information to help her understand
that Pearl’s sharing Mommy with the new baby involves much more than
practice in getting used to babies. Changing sleeping and eating patterns
and toilet learning are other areas families frequently raise questions about.
Of course, if your assessments reveal that a child is ahead of or behind

chiLd care reSource and reFerraL
agencieS

The National Association of Child Care Resource and
Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) is a professional organi-
zation that works with more than 700 state and local
child care resource and referral agencies throughout
the United States. These agencies help ensure that fam-
ilies have access to high-quality, affordable child care
by providing information on what high-quality care
looks like and how to locate such programs in their

community, as well as by advocating for child care pol-
icies that positively impact the lives of children and
families. The organization also supports professional
educators by providing access to professional develop-
ment opportunities to increase the quality of care.

A current focus for the organization is working with
US military services to help personnel (e.g., service
women and men) find high-quality, affordable child
care that suits their unique needs.

For more information on this important organization,
visit the NACCRRA website.

Spotlight on Organization

155chapter 7 Supportive communication with Families and colleagues

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age-expected levels, special emphasis should be placed on communicating
with families. As discussed in previous chapters, deciding together when
and how to proceed with involving other professionals is vital.

Families need information about the child care program. Before the
child is admitted, the program director shares with families program
goals, policies, descriptions of the daily program, and the practical use of
Developmental Milestones. Many programs will include a developmental
screening as part of the initial evaluation of the incoming child. This will
help guide caregivers as they make their decisions about program imple-
mentation. Many situations occur that family members need to clarify and
discuss with caregivers. For example, Sal wants his 23-month-old daugh-
ter Gabriele to stop using her fingers when she eats. The caregivers can
help Sal by listening actively and, when it is appropriate, assuring him
that eating with fingers is perfectly normal at this age but that you will
continue to offer her utensils at every meal to support her development of
fine motor control.

Expressing Feelings
Family members may want the caregiver to agree with them or reassure
them, to confirm or reject ideas, and to respond to pressures from family
and friends. For example, Lisha rushed in one morning with her son and
said, “I called my mother last night and told her I went back to work this
week. She had a fit. She said it was too soon and that right now my place
was at home.” Listen to Lisha’s words and her tone of voice; read her non-
verbal cues, her facial expressions, and degree of tenseness. She may be
telling you that she is feeling frustrated and guilty, or she may be stating
her mother’s view while feeling fairly comfortable with her own choice
of going back to work. You must listen to the whole message to interpret
accurately what Lisha is telling you.

Caregiving undoubtedly involves feelings and emotions. Family mem-
bers want to know that you are knowledgeable and concerned about their
child and about them (Huber, 2003). In a variety of ways, let families know
that you like and respect their child. Families look for caregivers who
accept and like their child and who provide emotional security.

Determine how to share the child’s new developments with family
members. The first time you see children pulling themselves up on the
table leg, teetering on two steps, holding utensils, riding a tricycle, turn-
ing book pages, hugging a friend, asking to go to the toilet, or catching
a ball, you should be excited and pleased with their accomplishments.
How might family members feel about missing the “big event”? Use your
knowledge of each family to determine whether you report these expe-
riences with elation or with caution. If the family wants to know all of
the “firsts” exactly when they happen, then report your observations with
enthusiasm. But, remember Lisha from earlier? Does she feel secure in
returning to work, or does she feel uncomfortable? Many family members,
especially mothers, feel guilty about needing or even wanting to return to
work. They may feel that they are missing the most important moments of
their children’s lives. Sharing “firsts” with them would only serve to rein-
force these feelings. When this situation arises, an alternative approach
would be to alert families for behaviors to look for at home without

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explicitly stating that you saw the accomplishment first. Although some
readers might interpret this as lying by omission, the news should be
reframed so that you help family members see and share an important
event for their child.

Uncovering Families’ Expectations and Setting Goals
Actively listen to family members so that you will fully understand what
care they expect you to provide. All families have expectations for their
children; some will be explicitly stated, while others may not be fully
articulated (Christian, 2006; Cheatham & Ostrosky, 2013).

Engage families in ongoing conversations to uncover these expectations
and support them in achieving their goals. Listen to what a father is saying
about the child and about his own needs. Some family members have very
definite ideas and will tell you about them. One parent might say, “I want
Velma to be happy. It bothers me to see her cry when I leave.” Others do
not say anything until they disagree with something, and then they may
express frustration or be angry with you. Another mother may tell you,
“I told you I want Pearl to get used to babies because my baby is due next
month. Please do not start transitioning her to the preschool room yet.”
If this happens, use active listening to account for the family members’
emotions as well as the words they say to you.

Not all families will have realistic or developmentally appropriate
expectations for their child. Some families, especially first-time parents,
set goals that are too high, while other families set their expectations too
low. Either case can lead to poor child outcomes. It is your responsibility as
a professional early childhood educator to work with them to realign their
expectations. The communication skills discussed earlier are very impor-
tant in these situations. You want to establish rapport as well as use active
listening and I statements. When asked your opinion, you can be ready to
guide them toward more developmentally appropriate expectations. This
approach reflects the guidelines for establishing reciprocal relationships
with families, especially that parents’ choices and goals are responded to
with sensitivity and respect without abdicating professional responsibility
(Copple & Bredekamp, 2009).

Work together with family members to create goals that are acceptable
to both of you. Sometimes that means taking baby steps toward meeting
your personal goals for the child. In an educational context, that is far more
acceptable than ignoring the family members’ goals. Expect to devote con-
siderable time in negotiating the goals that you will work toward together.
Partnering means working until a common ground is found. This should
be a win-win situation, not a hostile takeover of the families’ goals in favor
of your own or vice versa (see, e.g., Gonzalez-Mena, 2001).

Unfortunately, recent research found that for one sample of Head Start
teachers’ goal-setting practices during parent-teacher conferences did not
reflect either a partnership or a negotiation. Rather, Cheatham and Ostrosky
(2013) discovered that the teachers’ practices tended to disallow parents’
priorities and expertise regarding their children’s educational planning.
Native Spanish-speaking parents were particularly silenced. However,
it is possible that cultural differences in understanding the role of teach-
ers in setting educational goals or the lack of understanding of the need

157chapter 7 Supportive communication with Families and colleagues

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for educational goals might play a role for some families (Cheatham &
Ostrosky, 2013). In any case, early childhood educators must adopt strat-
egies that accommodate for parent-educator cultural and linguistic dif-
ferences and result in each family member being involved in goal setting.
This is particularly important during the infant-toddler period given that
children grow and change rapidly; caregivers should expect to engage in
goal setting and other such negotiations two to three times a year.

Sharing Expectations
After working to uncover the families’ expectations and create goals
together, explain what those goals might look like in practice. Your casual
statements may take on more meaning than formal, written goal state-
ments. When explaining how to encourage a toddler’s independence, you
might say: “We want to help children become as independent as they can,
so when Louella resists my helping her take off her bib, I will let her try to
take it off by herself. If she gets stuck, I will help her lift one arm out, and
then encourage her to do the rest by herself.”

Families are interested in what you expect of yourself as a caregiver.
What kinds of things do you do? How committed are you? How friendly are
you? Do you think you are more important than they are? Do you extend
and supplement the roles of families, or do you expect to supplant them?
You communicate these expectations through your words, attitudes, man-
nerisms, and interactions with children and family members.

What do you expect of the children in your care? A child care pro-
gram using a developmental perspective emphasizes the development of
the whole child and of individuality among children. Assure families that
development does not follow a rigid schedule and is not identical among
children. Adults often compare their child’s development with another
child’s and gloat or fret at what they see. Caregivers who show that they
believe children behave differently within a broad range of normal activity
communicate to families that adults can challenge children without put-
ting harmful pressure on them.

Caregivers expect many things of family members. Some expectations
you may express; others you should keep to yourself. You might expect
them to do the following:

●● Love and like their child
●● Want to hear about special occurrences in their child’s day
●● Want to learn more about their developing child
●● Be observant of the child’s health or illness
●● Be willing to share information about the child with you
●● Use respect as a basis for forming relationships

Some families will not meet your expectations. Because caregiving
occurs in the family as well as in the child care program, you will need to
resolve your differences with important people in the child’s life. In some
cases, you may need to change your expectations of family members. We
speak of accepting children as they are, so we need to take the same atti-
tude toward family members. They come to the child care program because
they need love and care for their child outside the home. While they

158 part 2 establishing a positive Learning environment

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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

often need and want additional information about parenting and a sense
of community, they usually are not looking for situations that place addi-
tional demands and expectations on them as parents (Mantovani, 2001).
Creating systems to serve families and build a stronger community is an
important advocacy function that early childhood programs can easily
provide (Galardini & Giovannini, 2001). Information to help family mem-
bers grow can be given when requested but not offered indiscriminately or
forced upon them. You may increase your awareness of the unique situa-
tion each family faces simply by actively listening to them without making
judgments.

7-2b partnering with Families
Teachers should be intentionally inviting so that strong, positive relation-
ships are created with and among families. These partnerships exist to
facilitate the well-being of children and families.

In Decision-Making
Some programs involve family members in decision-making. Many not-
for-profit child care centers have policy boards that include family repre-
sentatives. These boards may make recommendations and decisions about
center policy. Sometimes family members even serve on boards that make
administrative decisions about hiring and firing staff and selecting curric-
ula. However, few family child care homes and for-profit child care centers
involve families in decision-making about policy, staff, or curricula.

Families of infants and toddlers must be involved in some decisions
relating to their child’s care. The family or pediatrician selects the infant’s
milk or formula; the caregiver does not make that decision. Families and
caregivers must share information about the child’s eating and sleeping
schedules. The length of time from afternoon pick-up to mealtime and to
bedtime varies among families. Because late afternoon naps or snacks may
improve or disrupt evening family time, early childhood educators should
set aside time to discuss what schedule is best for the child and family.
Toilet learning must be coordinated between families and caregivers. Both
parties share information about the appropriateness of timing, the failures
and successes of the child, and the decision to discontinue or continue
toilet learning.

About Children
Most adult family members of infants and toddlers in child care are
employed. Therefore, family involvement during the child care day is
often limited to arrival and pick-up time. They can help the child take off
a coat or unpack supplies when leaving the child in the morning, and they
can share with the caregiver information about the child’s night, health, or
special experiences. At pick-up time, the caregiver initiates conversations
about the child’s experiences and projects during the day, while the family
member helps the infant or toddler make the transition back to home life
by hugging the child or helping to put on outdoor clothes. Sharing writ-
ten notes and photographs taken of work that occurred during the day is
always a good way to start conversations.

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7-2c Family education
Some programs intentionally have a parent education component as part of
their mission. Including parent education often reflects the goal of building
strong partnerships between families and caregivers so that optimal child
growth and learning results. These programs set aside time on a regular
basis to provide information directly to groups of families. The focus of
such meetings should be based on parental recommendations so that it is
personalized. To ascertain that information, programs can conduct a survey
that asks parents about parenting topics they would like more information
on. The survey can also ask them how they might like that content deliv-
ered (e.g., guest speakers, videos, facilitated discussions). You may dis-
cover, for example, that half of the families in the infant and toddler rooms
want more information on choosing and creating safe, developmentally
appropriate, and growth-producing environments for their children, while
the preschool families want to learn more about appropriately supporting
emergent literacy skills. The director, advisory board, or teams of teachers
should decide how to disseminate the information to the families, given
stated preferences. Keep in mind that information should be delivered by
someone the families trust and whose competence and experience will
meaningfully affect the decisions they make. The decision about how to
communicate this information should also reflect how adults learn. Mak-
ing resources available that they can read, listen to, view, and/or discuss
will help them further construct their ideas about the care and education of
very young children. As part of this education, they may also want a desig-
nated time and place to discuss ongoing concerns, such as balancing work
and family commitments, with other families with similarly aged children.
Having a monthly coffee klatch might be just the thing for the parents in
your program.

It is not unreasonable to expect that such parental educational efforts
might raise the family members’ awareness of related state and national
concerns. How might their problem solving on the local level help others
solve the related larger-scale problem? Informing families of whom to com-
municate with at local, regional, and national levels to share their solutions
or lobby for other solutions will empower them and can benefit everyone
involved in early childhood education.

If the program does not have parent education as part of the stated mis-
sion, then it should be offered individually to parents who express interest
in wanting specific information. Avoid providing parenting advice if not
asked. That can be seen as intrusive and disrespectful. However, including
brief articles on child development in your newsletter is a nonintrusive
way to inform parents about issues that might relate to their child’s care
and education.

7-2d Supporting relationships between Families
As will be discussed later in this chapter, many families face stressful sit-
uations. One way to help alleviate stress is to create ways for families to
get to know one another and build relationships among themselves. For
example, you can plan events for families at the end of the day or on the
weekends. These events need not be elaborate; in fact, meeting at a nearby

160 part 2 establishing a positive Learning environment

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park for a play date and picnic can be enjoyable for children and families.
Similar to building relationships between teachers and families, families
should be encouraged to engage with each other in formal and informal
situations.

Programs can also help families provide support for each other by
redefining individual “problems” as opportunities for community prob-
lem solving. For example, when a family has unreliable transportation,
how can other families help them get to a well-baby doctor appointment?
Or, how can families share babysitting assistance so that each family gets
a mental and physical break from the stresses of caring for very young
children?

7-2e Family-Caregiver Conferences
When a primary caregiving system is used in conjunction with regular con-
ferences, the teacher is able to be a well-informed advocate for each child
in her care. Having specific knowledge about a child that can be shared
with family members strengthens relationships between teachers and fam-
ilies (Huber, 2003).

It is important that family-caregiver conferences have structure and
occur at least twice per year. Preparing and sharing in advance an agenda
and checklist, being a good listener, and keeping confidences are some of
the important factors to consider when planning a conference. As you
would treat children differently based on their individual characteristics,
the same approach is vital when conducting a family-caregiver conference.
Varying communication strategies for your audience, assisting intercul-
tural communication by having translators available, avoiding specialized
terminology, and following agendas in a flexible manner can prevent
miscommunications and build rapport with families (Garcia-Sanchez,
Orellana, & Hopkins, 2011; Howard & Lipinoga, 2010).

Busy families often have difficulty scheduling formal conferences. To
make the most efficient use of time, plan what will be discussed. Identify
the major purpose of the conference. Gather background information to dis-
cuss the topic. Caregiver records of observations, both formal and informal,
should be consulted. Outside sources such as articles, books, pamphlets,
tapes, and videos may provide information for the caregiver and can be
shared with the family members. You may also need information on com-
munity agencies or organizations in your region.

Providing an agenda, checklist, and feedback sheet at least three days in
advance helps to prepare everyone involved in the meeting. This will give
them time to look over what you want to accomplish and to understand
their active role in the conference. A sample agenda for a teacher-initiated
conference might resemble the following:

1. Welcome

2. How do you see (Rodney) developing at
home?

3. Do you have any questions or concerns about his development?

4. Review checklist sent home to discuss what behaviors and skills have
been noticed at school.

family-caregiver conferences
periodic meetings between
family members and caregiver
to review documentation and
interpretation of each child’s
developmental progress as
well as to create plans for
supporting development in
the future.

161chapter 7 Supportive communication with Families and colleagues

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5. What developmental and learning goals should we set for
(Rodney) ?

a. Discuss: family’s goals.

b. Discuss: teachers’ goals.

c. Create list of our goals together.

6. Brainstorm: How can we work on these goals together?

7. Do you have any feedback to share about the program or our (family-
teacher and teacher-child) relationships?

The format of this agenda highlights many important aspects of good
conferences. First, a conference starts with engaging the family mem-
bers in reporting their observations and evaluations of the child. Then,
the teacher shares some of her observations. In this way, two-way com-
munication is used as an essential tool for developing a positive family-
caregiver relationship as everyone should feel free to bring up concerns,
problems, or issues, as well as joys, accomplishments, and strengths of the
child (Markström, 2011). Step 4 serves the purpose of interpreting with
family members each child’s progress from a developmental approach to
help them understand and appreciate developmentally appropriate early
childhood programs (Markström, 2011; NAEYC, 2011a). The most impor-
tant part of the conference is the negotiation of developmental and learn-
ing goals. Allow plenty of time to engage in this aspect of the conference
because it typically has a large influence on whether or not the family
members feel that the teacher has listened to them.

Sometimes situations warrant a conference outside of the “normal,
twice-a-year” conferences. If the teacher requests the conference, tell the
family members why and provide some observations to give them time to
think about the concern beforehand. If a family member requests a meet-
ing, ask what concerns need to be discussed so you can prepare ahead of
time. Provide them with a sample agenda and ask them to modify it for
their needs. In any case, the goal is the same as a regularly scheduled con-
ference: to support listening of family members and work together to find
solutions to the issues being raised. A sample agenda might include the
following:

1. Welcome and thank you for calling this meeting.

2. What are your concerns? (Then, be sure to listen actively.)

3. Respond with information or observations if it is appropriate and help-
ful to the discussion.

4. How can we deal with these concerns?

5. Create a plan of action together.

6. Set up a follow-up meeting to monitor progress.

While conducting any conference, it is vital that you minimize power
differences between you and family members. One way to do so is to
arrange the physical environment so that all adults are sitting next to one
another with no barriers. Placing chairs in a circle with no desk or table
between you accomplishes this. Physical comfort should also be consid-
ered. Early childhood educators are accustomed to sitting in child-size

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chairs on a regular basis. However, family members rarely are. Providing
adult-size chairs can help everyone feel more at ease and be physically
comfortable. Having water, coffee, or juice, and a box of tissues nearby may
also add to everyone’s comfort.

7-2f home Visits
Home visits are a regular part of Early Head Start and Head Start programs
as well as many different early intervention programs, but other child care
programs seldom make them. Home visits can be valuable opportunities
for the family and the caregiver to learn more about each other; family
members have reported that home visits are valuable because they afford
personal time for asking questions and sharing concerns (Quintanar &
Warren, 2008). Research on a Head Start program found that collaborative
goal setting was associated with greater participation in the home visiting
portion of the program (Manz, Lehtinen, & Bracaliello, 2013). This means
that well-planned family-caregiver conferences impact the family mem-
bers’ engagement with other program aspects. Teachers also use home vis-
its to learn more about how the family members and child relate to each
other in their own home. To maximize the benefits of each home visit,
teachers must plan them carefully to respect the family’s time and space.

1. Identify and discuss with the family members the purpose for the visit:
To get acquainted? To gather information? To work with the parents,
child, or both?

2. Negotiate a time that is convenient for all family members and your-
self. It can often be helpful to have a couple of dates in mind when you
call to schedule the home visit.

3. Gather background information the visit requires. Do you need to take
along any forms to be filled out? Will you be sharing your program
goals? If so, do you have a flyer or pamphlet, or will you just tell them?
Are there specific problems or concerns you want to discuss? Do you
have written documentation of the child’s behavior to share, such as
daily reports or notes, or resource and referral information?

4. Conduct the home visit as you would a family-teacher conference. For
example, ask questions to elicit information from family members,
work together to create solutions for any issues of concern, and ask for
feedback.

When you make a home visit, you are a guest in the family’s home. You
are there to listen and learn. While you want to be friendly, this is not a
social call; families have busy lives, and you do too. Therefore, when you
have finished talking about the issues, thank them for their interest, time,
and hospitality, and then leave.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. Why is effective communication with families important?
2. Write an agenda for a family-teacher conference initiated by you to discuss a

child’s toilet learning.

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

home visits a meeting in
the child’s home providing an
opportunity for the caregiver
to see how the family members
and child relate to each other in
the home setting.

163chapter 7 Supportive communication with Families and colleagues

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7-3 Family Situations Requiring
Additional Support
This section discusses four types of families that may need additional sup-
port from early childhood educators: grandparents as parents, families who
have children who are at risk for later difficulties, families where abuse or
neglect is present, and teenage parents. For all of these families, it is imper-
ative that you use the positive communication skills discussed earlier.

7-3a Grandparents as parents
Statistics indicate that grandparents are taking care of children more
than ever before. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, more than
2.9 million grandparents are responsible for raising their own grand-
children; almost 1 million of those grandparents do it without the child’s
parent present in the home (Children’s Defense Fund, 2014). Of these
grandparent-headed homes, 67 percent of the head-of-households were
under the age of 60, and one in five of the families (20 percent) live in pov-
erty (AARP, 2015).

You should extend a special invitation to grandparents who are now
facing the challenge of raising grandchildren as primary caregivers because
outcomes associated with this family situation are not always obvious.
According to a study by Harnett, Dawe, and Russell (2014), grandparents
reported higher levels of personal distress in the caring role and signifi-
cantly less emotional and practical support than they would like. They
are often balancing the demands of working full time and the pressures of
being impoverished with being in the role of primary caregiver. All of these
factors increase the grandparents’ stress. They need encouragement, sup-
port, and someone to confide in. AARP has created fact sheets that provide
important data regarding the prevalence of grandparent-headed house-
holds in each state as well as lists of useful resources. These fact sheets
are free and easy to download, print, and share with families as they might
need them.

7-3b at-risk Families and Children
Children can be at risk for a number of reasons, including genetic or chro-
mosomal disorders and environmentally produced problems (see Chap-
ter 10 for more information). Significant contributors to being at risk are
living in poverty, having one or more caregivers who have low levels of
education, having parents with mental health issues (Beeber, Schwartz,
Martinez, Holditch-Davis, Bledsoe, Canuso, et al., 2014; Simeonova,
Attalla, Nguyen, Stagnaro, Knight, Craighead, et al., 2014), experiencing
malnutrition or being undernourished, and lacking positive environmen-
tal stimulation (for reviews, see Duncan & Brooks-Gunn, 1997; Shonkoff
& Phillips, 2000). Many families, especially single-parent households,
struggle financially to meet the basic needs of their infants and toddlers,
so they, rightfully, focus their attention on survival rather than on strate-
gies for promoting optimal development and learning. Families who are
poverty-stricken care deeply for their children. They may work two or

164 part 2 establishing a positive Learning environment

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three jobs to provide shelter, food, and clothing, and, even then, those may
not be completely adequate.

Supporting families in these situations involve not only listening
actively but also having contact information for community resources
readily available (Photo 7–2). Including these resources regularly as part of
your communication with families (e.g., in a section of your newsletter) is
relatively simple for you but can have a significant impact on them. Know-
ing when and where to receive free immunizations, for example, can be
key to promoting the physical well-being of infants and toddlers. In addi-
tion, providing strategies for interacting with the child during the car or
bus ride home can facilitate the development of language and cognition
skills and has the advantage of being free (Herr & Swim, 2002).

Families Experiencing Child Abuse or Neglect
Child abuse and neglect, while often closely linked in discussions, are
two distinct constructs. Abuse is an action that causes harm to another
and comes in three forms: physical, sexual, and emotional/psychological.

When conducting a home visit with Valerie’s family,
you learned that she lives in a home with her mother,
father, sister, paternal grandmother, and maternal
aunt. You learned that Valerie’s grandmother will be
dropping her off and picking her up two days a week.

Other days will be shared between her mother, father,
and aunt, depending on work schedules. How would
you help Valerie’s family members create a consistent
routine for pick-up and drop-off to minimize stress for
Valerie?

Family and Community Connections

PhOTO 7–2 Early childhood educators can provide support and information to
families in at-risk situations.

©
2

01
7

Ce
ng

ag
e

Le
ar

ni
ng

165chapter 7 Supportive communication with Families and colleagues

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proLonged SeparationS For Young
chiLdren: parentaL incarceration
and MiLitarY depLoYMent

In 2009, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that
more than 800,000 prisoners or 53 percent of those
being held in US prisons were parents of children under
the age of 18, a rate which represents a 113 percent
increase for mothers since 1991 (Glaze & Maruschak,
2009). Mothers in state prisons reported that 18 percent
of the children were 4 years old or younger, while that
percentage was 14 percent for those in federal prisons
(Glaze & Maruschak, 2009).

Hundreds of thousands of US troops and reservists
have been deployed around the world in the “Global
War on Terrorism.” Approximately 1.2 million children
live in US military families (Kelly, 2003), and at least
700,000 of them have had at least one parent deployed
(Johnson et al., 2007, both cited in Lincoln, Swift, &
Shorteno-Fraser, 2008). In addition, approximately
6 percent of active duty and 8 percent of Reserve and
National Guard military personnel are single parents
(Yeary, 2007). Thus, young children whose parents are
incarcerated or in the military often experience serious,
prolonged separations and disruptions in their lives.

Recent research reveals that increased rates of men-
tal health, behavioral, and stress problems were found
in children during parental deployment (Gorman, Eide,
& Hisle-Gorman, 2010). The most frequently reported
manifestation of distress among young children is night
waking (Lieberman & Van Horn, 2013). In addition,
separation anxiety is heightened for some children
by the fear of losing their other parent (Lieberman &
Van Horn, 2013). In general, however, the literature
reveals mediated results when measuring the impact of
having a prolonged separation due to incarceration or
military deployment on child outcomes such as social,
emotional, and intellectual development. For example,
children who already had a secure attachment to their
incarcerated mother and received more stable contin-
uous care in her absence were able to create secure
emotional attachments with another adult (Poehlmann,
2005a). This strong, new relationship seemed to pro-
vide a protective factor against negative developmental
outcomes.

Similarly, infants and toddlers who experienced
separation due to military deployment tended to
respond to the remaining parent’s or caregiver’s reac-
tion (Lincoln et al., 2008). In other words, when the
caregiver expressed high levels of sadness or anxiety,

infants were more likely to be irritable or unrespon-
sive, and toddlers were more likely to experience
sleep disruption or increased periods of crying. In
contrast, when the child had a positive relationship
with the parent at home, higher levels of psychologi-
cal well-being were noted (Lincoln et al., 2008). When
military families with children younger than 6 years
of age created a plan for maintaining the father–child
relationship during the deployment, they experi-
enced less parenting stress after the deployment than
did those families who did not create a plan (Louie &
Cromer, 2014).

Another study also underscored the impact of the
current family environment on mediating intellec-
tual outcomes for children of incarcerated mothers.
Poehlmann (2005b) discovered that the children’s
intellectual outcomes were compromised by their high-
risk status at multiple contextual levels and that their
intellectual outcomes were also mediated by the qual-
ity of their current family environment. In other words,
even if a child experienced several risk factors, if she
was being currently cared for in a positive, supportive
environment, she was more likely to have better intel-
lectual outcomes.

Some children appear to be more vulnerable before
the separation and demonstrate this continued vulner-
ability during it. For example, children with disorga-
nized attachments (see Chapter 3) were more likely to
continue the pattern of disorganization during their
mothers’ incarceration, which placed them at further
risk for social and emotional difficulties (Dallaire,
2007). Likewise, children who had a history of need-
ing psychological counseling were more likely to need
it again during the deployment of a parent (Lincoln
et al., 2008).

As just discussed, separation from family members
can be very stressful because the loss is felt deeply.
However, research found that reuniting with family
members after a deployment can be equally stressful
as new roles and responsibilities have been negotiated
and assumed in the parent’s absence (Faber, Willer-
ton, Clymer, MacDermid, & Weiss, 2008; Willerton,
Schwarz, MacDermid, Wadsworth, & Oglesby, 2011;
Williams & Rose, 2007). Similarly, parents who were
once incarcerated have to rebuild a relationship with
their child and assume their parental responsibilities.
As this can be an overwhelming task, researchers have
become interested in determining whether programs
can be developed to assist incarcerated mothers with

Spotlight on Research

(continued )

166 part 2 establishing a positive Learning environment

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Neglect is failing to provide for the basic needs or affection of a child or not
adequately supervising children’s activities (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013).
According to the Children’s Defense Fund (2014), 1,825 children are con-
firmed abused or neglected each day. Abuse and neglect can and do occur
in families of any racial and ethnic background, socioeconomic
status, and community. Several factors are significantly asso-
ciated with increased risk of child abuse for children under 5:
race (White), inadequate housing, receiving public assistance
(Palusci, 2011), maternal depression and substance abuse, as
well as domestic violence (Azzi-Lessing, 2013). As mentioned in
Chapter 2, infants under the age of 1 are at greatest risk of injury
from shaking, a severe type of abuse. Early childhood educators
are often the child’s first line of defense for preventing and iden-
tifying abuse and neglect (Photo 7–3).

Continually communicating about and modeling strategies
for implementing the three As can foster family members’ think-
ing about capabilities and appropriate expectations for children
from birth to age 3. Oftentimes, children are abused because fam-
ily members do not know what is reasonable to expect of chil-
dren at a certain age (McElroy & Rodriguez, 2008). For example,
not knowing that it is unreasonable to expect a toddler to sit
quietly in a restaurant and not interrupt the after-dinner con-
versation can result in stress and anger for the adult and abuse
for the child. In addition, understanding that infants cry to com-
municate needs and that crying can oftentimes be frequent or
of long duration can help parents to cope in those situations.
Participation in Early Head Start has been found to be effective
in reducing incidents of physical and sexual abuse when the

being better parents after they are released. According
to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Mothers (27 per-
cent) were about two and a half times more likely than
fathers (11 percent) to attend parenting or childrearing
classes” (Glaze & Maruschak, 2009, p. 9). Participation
in postsecondary education programs while in prison
was correlated with participation in parenting classes
and child visits (Rose & Rose, 2014). A recent review of
literature on parent education and child-visitation pro-
grams for incarcerated parents demonstrated positive
changes for mothers who participated (Bruns, 2006). It
appears that family bonds may be particularly impor-
tant for mothers as they work to better themselves as
parents and employees.

As educators, we must assume a supportive role for
family members and children when they experience
a prolonged separation. In this situation, using the

positive communication techniques described previ-
ously is vital to determining how to talk with young
children. The children will experience a period of
sadness (Poehlmann, 2005a) that should be discussed
openly, honestly, and sensitively. Yet, you must collab-
orate with the family members to know what words to
use during the conversations. Specific activities can be
planned at school and home to encourage open com-
munication such as drawing or reading picture books
on the topic. Activities that engage children and family
members together can help ease the burden for every-
one (Guzman, 2014). Moreover, technology can greatly
improve parent-child relationships during this time by
having parents record their reading of children’s books
for the child to enjoy later, or the use of various social
platforms can help maintain the parent-child connec-
tion (Yeary, Zoll, & Reschke, 2012).

Spotlight on Research (continued)

Photo 7–3 Early childhood
educators are often the first line
of defense for preventing and
identifying abuse and neglect.

©
C

en
ga

ge
L

ea
rn

in
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167chapter 7 Supportive communication with Families and colleagues

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children were 5–9 years of age (Green, Ayoub, Bartlett, Von Ende, Furrer,
Chazan-Cohen, et al., 2014). It is possible that Early Head Start provides
such powerful protections for young children because of the strong par-
ent education component; parents are provided information to help them
understand patterns of typical development.

Identifying children who are being abused or neglected is part of your
professional and ethical responsibilities. Use your observation skills to
inspect the child’s body during routine care times to notice physical or
sexual abuse. For example, while diapering, look at the child’s arms,
body, and legs. Any suspicious marking should cause you to inquire
politely and discreetly of family members as to how the marks occurred.
Immediately after your conversation, write down in the child’s file exactly
what you asked and what you were told. The use of descriptive language
(see Chapter 5) cannot be overemphasized in this situation. Interpretative
language will make the record of little use to other professionals who may
need to investigate the case. Reread your entry and reflect on the con-
versation. Ask yourself: Does this seem like a reasonable event to have
happened to a child of this age and mobility? If your answer is yes, then
do nothing. However, if your answer is no, you need to involve the appro-
priate authorities.

Each early childhood program should have a written policy on how to
handle suspected cases of child abuse that follows all state laws. In some
states, it is proper procedure for a teacher to inform the program director or
staff social worker of the situation and then that person is the one to report
the incident to the appropriate community agency. This policy is often set
in place to protect the teacher-family relationship. However, it is not the
program director’s or staff social worker’s job to decide whether or not the
incident needs reporting. If it is reported to them, they must report it. In
other states, the person suspecting the abuse must be the one to report the
incident. Thus, if you believe that an incident should be reported, then you
must report it to protect you from being accused of neglect (i.e., failure to
report a crime).

Deciding whether or not to report an incident can be emotionally dif-
ficult. The ethical dilemma stems from the fact that you are responsible
for safeguarding the health and well-being of the children and maintaining
relationships with families (NAEYC, 2011b). To ease your mind, the deter-
mination of whether intentional abuse has occurred has nothing to do with
your obligation under the law to report it. Your responsibility is to report
your suspicions. Therefore, you are not to launch a full investigation to
verify or disprove your suspicions; this is the responsibility of the com-
munity agency. If you report an incident in good faith, you are not legally
liable if it is not substantiated by other professionals.

Supporting families who are experiencing abuse or neglect is essential
for them to acquire more positive ways of interacting and meeting each
other’s needs. Reporting child abuse to the appropriate community agency
can be the first step in intervention. Contrary to popular belief, these agen-
cies do all they can to assist parents in making good parenting choices.
Linking families to other community resources, such as support groups or
agencies that can provide education, is a way to facilitate the acquisition of
positive parenting strategies.

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7-3c teenage parents
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation (2014), the teenage birth
rate in 2012 was 29 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19. This figure rep-
resents a 40 percent decrease from the 2005 rate. While the occurrence of
US teenage pregnancy is still the highest among economically advantaged
nations, this figure continues to represent a record low birth rate for US
teens (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2014). See Table 7–1 for information on
the states with the highest and lowest rates of teenage pregnancies.

The consequences of teenage pregnancy can be severe for both the teens
and the infants. Teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of school
and live in poverty, as evidenced by the fact that nearly 80 percent of
teen mothers receive public assistance, while teen fathers are more likely
to engage in delinquent behaviors such as alcohol abuse or drug dealing
(Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 2014). Both teen mothers and
teen fathers complete fewer years of schooling than their childless peers
(Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 2014). Thus, the results of
teenage pregnancy should be seen for what they are: a consequence for
society through the perpetuation of the increasing inequalities in health
and social opportunities (Paranjothy, 2009).

Researchers have long been interested in public norms about nonmari-
tal pregnancy. When surveyed, teenagers reported levels of embarrassment
that were stronger than those of adults (Mollborn, 2009). In addition, for
teens, perceived levels of embarrassment predicted their reports of possi-
ble sanctions in their family through the withholding of needed material
resources (Mollborn, 2009). Although this research study used hypothet-
ical situations to assess embarrassment and sanctions, it is reasonable to
assume that such outcomes are realistic for many teens.

The stress of limited financial resources coupled with a lack of life
experiences can impact a teen parent’s ability to interact with his or her

TAbLE 7–1 ◗ Teen Pregnancy Rates (Number) in 2012*

HigHest Number of teeNage PregNaNcies

Number Number

15–17 year olds 18–19 year olds
texas 12,938 texas 27,513
california 10,345 california 24,545
Florida 4,221 Florida 11,731
illinois 3,562 new York 9,081
ohio 3,006 ohio 8,431

Lowest Number of teeNage PregNaNcies

Vermont 85 Vermont 276
Wyoming 141 north dakota 454
north dakota 149 new hampshire 469
Maine 172 Wyoming 481
alaska 182 district of columbia 552

*Most recent year available.
Source: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, KIDS COUNT Data Center, http://datacenter.kidscount.org. Reprinted with
permission.

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infant or toddler. As any family member knows, raising children can be
trying and very difficult even under the best of circumstances. Possessing
sound coping mechanisms and the ability to make informed decisions is
vital. These skills develop over time with life experiences and emotional
maturity. Thus, parenting can be very challenging for teen parents, espe-
cially those who do not have family support. Add to this the necessity to
set aside dreams and aspirations and place a baby’s needs before their own,
and it is no wonder that a large majority of teenage parents have emotional
conflicts that decrease their ability to provide good parenting.

The role of the early childhood educator cannot be underestimated in
these situations. Teenage parents (both mothers and fathers) need you to
encourage their positive parenting abilities and acknowledge their efforts,
successes, and challenges. This requires you to set aside additional time
to empathize with and actively listen to the teen parent. In addition, pro-
viding contact information for community services (e.g., parenting courses,
financial management, and social service agencies) as part of your regular
communication with families can be invaluable for both the teen parents
and their offspring.

Teenage parents need vital information, support, and role models that
teach, through example, the daily competent care of infants and toddlers.
This modeling should include the conscious application of attention,
approval, and attunement in addition to the mechanics of care. A compe-
tent child care professional will help the teenage parents develop by appro-
priately extending positive attention, approval, and attunement to them.
Teenage parents are not yet adults and need to be accepted, not judged or
labeled, for who they are as individuals.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. List two family situations that would require extra support from you. What
can you do to minimize stress for a family in those situations?

2. Regarding your answer to question 1, explain why many of these situations
raise ethical dilemmas for educators.

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

7-4 Communicating with Colleagues
When a child care program has more than one staff member, effective
communication among staff is essential. Arranging to meet with staff
members regularly enhances communication. Although family child care
providers often work alone in their own homes, they can contact licens-
ing staff and other family child care providers for support. Group fam-
ily child care arrangements employ at least two people who work with
a larger group of children in the home. Child care centers usually have
a staff that includes a director and one or more caregivers. The size of
enrollment determines the number and kind of additional staff; these may
be caregivers, cooks, custodians, bus drivers, early childhood educators,
social workers, and health personnel. No matter if the staff is 2 or 22,

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regular, uninterrupted time to communicate, solve problems, and make de ­
cisions is necessary.

Similar to your relationship with children and family members, each
caregiver needs to be a listener to fellow staff members. Staff can exchange
information and discuss program issues in a reasonable way only if all are
active listeners. How you listen to one another reflects how you respect
one another.

7-4a Collaborating with Colleagues
Share Information and Areas of Expertise
Your educational and professional experiences give you information,
insights, and perspectives that will help others understand issues and
deal with problems. Each person has special talents and unique insights to
share with colleagues, children, and families. Nobody appreciates know­
it­alls, but we all benefit from people who are willing to share ideas that
can be discussed, accepted, modified, or rejected.

Share Feelings and Solve Problems
As a part of a team, everyone benefits from sharing pleasurable experi­
ences and tactfully expressing frustrations, disappointments, and anger
(Photo 7–4). Keeping negative feelings bottled up can harm the entire pro­
gram because it impacts the ability to meet program goals. Determine what
is distressing you and discuss the issue. Using I statements and active lis­
tening strategies can help you focus on how to solve the problem at hand.
You will be more likely to clear up misunderstandings and misperceptions
if you focus your discussion on issues rather than on personalities.

Share Feedback
Both informal and formal observations provide you with feedback to share
with your colleagues. Noting how other caregivers behave with people and
materials in various settings, schedules, and routines can help the entire
staff evaluate the current program and make necessary adjustments. Feed­
back can highlight caregiver actions that are helpful and effective,
but you should use tact when commenting on a situation in which
you believe your colleagues might act differently. Focus on what
is best for the children and what changes can improve the situa­
tion, not on what a caregiver did wrong. Actions are more often
inappropriate than wrong. Because all caregivers are developing
their skills, comments that make colleagues feel incompetent are
not helpful; however, focusing on appropriate alternative actions
is productive.

Share Responsibilities
Your colleagues will notice whether you are willing to carry
your load. Not all of your responsibilities are explicit in your
job description. Martha is responsible for getting snacks ready,
but today she is rocking Natalie, who after crying and fussing
has finally settled down but does not seem quite ready to be put

Photo 7–4 Early childhood
educators benefit from sharing
both pleasant and challenging
experiences with each other.

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down to play. If another caregiver volunteers to set up snacks, Natalie will
not become distressed again and so will not disturb the other children.

7-4b Supporting Colleagues
Caregiving is physically and emotionally draining. Remember to put into
practice the three As of caregiving presented in Chapter 4 to help yourself
and your colleagues cope with stress. For example, assisting a colleague
when extra help is needed reduces stress. You can provide positive emo-
tional support by listening, using honest compliments, giving credit, and
reassuring colleagues about ideas or actions of theirs that you think are
appropriate. Knowing that you are working together rather than against
each other is in itself powerful emotional support (Photo 7–5).

7-4c Making Decisions
Early childhood educators need information to make intelligent program
and curriculum decisions. Meet with other staff members regularly. Study
issues and learn to identify relevant factors so that you will be able to dis-
cuss subjects intelligently and make wise decisions. Raise questions with
colleagues; listen, think, and take an active part in making decisions related
to delivering professional care and education for very young children.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. Why is effective communication with colleagues important?
2. How can you contribute to effective, positive staff relationships?

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

PhOTO 7–5 Sharing ideas and assisting a colleague when help is needed
helps to reduce stress.

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7-1 understand the active listening process and
other skills for effective communication.
Early childhood educators are responsible for
interacting positively with family members and
colleagues. I statements and active listening are
just two strategies to master to help maximize
understanding and build strong relationships.

7-2 Develop procedures for informal and formal
communication with families.
Developing reciprocal relationships with fam-
ilies is one of the five aspects of developmen-
tally appropriate practices. Teachers build such
relationships by actively engaging family mem-
bers in sharing information, setting goals, and
involving them in decisions that impact their
child. Communication should occur during
informal meetings (e.g., drop-off time) and formal

meetings (e.g., family-caregiver conferences or
home visits).

7-3 Describe specific family situations that might
require additional support.
Many factors such as grandparents raising grand-
children, prolonged separations, child abuse, and
teenage pregnancy provide challenges to families.
Learn how each family is responding to the situa-
tion and, if invited, provide information on com-
munity resources.

7-4 analyze your own skills when communicating
with colleagues.
Learning to work with colleagues as a member
of a team can alleviate some negative outcomes
and stress for teachers, families, and, most impor-
tantly, the children.

Summary

Angelica, just over 2 years of age, is relatively new to
Sasha’s class of mixed-age infants and toddlers. She
joined the class for part-time care (three days a week)
about three months ago after she was formally adopted
by her aunt (her biological mother’s sister) and uncle.
Angelica is now the youngest of three children. She is
obviously adored by her parents and siblings. Sasha is
concerned because she is having difficulty forming a
close attachment with Angelica in the child care setting.

Angelica has missed more than two-thirds of the
days that she was scheduled to be at child care due to
her illness, sickle cell anemia (SCA). This is an inher-
ited disorder that profoundly affects the structure and
functioning of red blood cells for African Americans
(Hardman, Drew, & Egan, 2006). Angelica’s disorder
was identified at birth, yet is progressing at a rapid
rate; she seems to be experiencing frequent and serious
complications. Angelica misses school when she has
to get partial-exchange blood transfusions. These treat-
ments tend to cause her to throw up. In the past three
months, she has needed eight such transfusions. After
the last treatment, she had to be admitted to the hos-
pital overnight because of dehydration. Angelica had

experienced only three partial-exchange transfusions
before being adopted.

When Angelica enrolled in her class, Sasha began to
find out more about SCA and how she could best meet
the toddler’s needs. Her first source of information was
Angelica’s parents, of course, but they are just learn-
ing about this disorder as well. Next, she searched the
web, but found conflicting information and not much
about partial-exchange blood transfusions and their
side effects. She did discover that minimizing stress,
fatigue, and exposure to cold temperatures can assist
those with a history of SCA crises. So, while she has
gained some information, Sasha is still nervous about
working with Angelica.

1. Given Angelica’s family history, should Sasha be
concerned about forming a close attachment with
her? Why or why not?

2. Plan a family-caregiver conference to set plans
for Angelica’s care as well as shared goals for her
development when she returns.

3. What strategies would you suggest Sasha use to
help develop a strong relationship with Angelica’s
parents?

Angelica’s Medical NeedsC a S e S t U D Y

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Lesson Plan
title: Waiting Patiently
child observation:

Miles toddled over to his cubbie, took out his coat, and
toddled to the classroom door. He stood by the door
with his coat in hand for two full minutes. He then
began to cry.

child’s Developmental goal:

To develop a coping strategy for missing a loved one

To demonstrate attachment to another person

materials: Pictures of granddad alone or with Miles,
construction or typing paper, tape, clear plastic sleeves
(like for a three-ring binder).

Preparation: Invite Miles’s grandfather to provide pic-
tures of himself along and/or with Miles. If that is not
available, obtain permission to take a few photos dur-
ing drop-off or pick-up. Tape the photos to the paper.
Then, place the photos in the plastic sleeve to protect
them. Tape the photos to the back of the classroom
door at Miles’s eye level.

Learning environment:

1. When you notice Miles missing his granddad, invite
him to look at the pictures you posted on the door.

2. Draw his attention to pictures by using descriptive
language. To illustrate, you could say:

“This is a picture of your granddad and you
reading a book.”

3. Invite the child to look at and gently touch the pic-
tures by asking prompts or open-ended questions
such as the following:
a. I wonder what you are doing in this photograph.
b. You are eating a snack in this picture. What is

your favorite thing to do with your granddad?
4. Talk about how important his grandfather is to

him. Discuss why missing him is hard. Remind
him that granddad misses him too and will come
to get him right after work.

5. Describe how Miles can use the pictures when he
misses his granddad. You might say, for example:
a. Looking at these pictures help you when you

are sad. You can visit them whenever you want.
b. When I get sad, I like to look at pictures of my

family. You can too. These will be here on the
door. You can look at them whenever you want.

guidance consideration:

If Miles becomes distressed and hits a person or the
property, calmly yet firmly tell him it is okay to be
upset, but it is not okay to hit. Then, redirect him to
the window to watch for his granddad.

Variations:

Make a book of favorite things Miles and his granddad
like to do together or of their daily routines. Read the
book when Miles misses his granddad.

Professional Resource Download

Additional Resources
Birney, J. M. (2011). Parenting from prison: A hands-

on guide for incarcerated parents. Charleston:
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Dunlap, G., Wilson, K., Strain, P. S., & Lee, J. (2013).
Prevent-Teach-Reinforce for young children: The
early childhood model of individualized positive
behavior support. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes
Publishing Co.

Lindsay, J. W. (2008). Teen dads: Rights, responsibil-
ities, and joys (3rd ed.). Buena Park, CA: Morning
Glory Press.

McCoy, M. L., & Keen, S. M. (2013). Child abuse and
neglect (2nd ed.). New York: Psychology Press.

Newton, S., & Gerrits, J. (2011). Straight talk about . . .
child abuse. St. Catharines, Ont.: Crabtree Publish-
ing Company.

Zehr, H., & Amstutz, L. S. (2011). What will happen to
me?: Every night, approximately three million chil-
dren go to bed with a parent in jail or prison: Here
are their thoughts and stories. Intercourse,
PA: Good Books.

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© 2017 Cengage Learning

C h a p t e r

The Indoor and Outdoor
Learning Environments

Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

8-1 Create high-quality and developmentally
appropriate indoor and outdoor learning
environments from the teacher’s
perspective.

8-2 Improve a learning environment based on
the child’s perspective.

8-3 Describe why teachers should consider
society’s perspective when creating
high-quality indoor and outdoor learning
environments.

8-4 Select materials for use in a classroom
based upon criteria.

8-5 Evaluate policies and procedures for
protecting the health and safety of very
young children.

Standards Addressed
in This Chapter

NaeYC Standards
for early Childhood professional
preparation

1 Promoting Child Development and Learning

4 Using Developmentally Effective Approaches

Developmentally appropriate
practice Guidelines

1 Creating a Caring Community of Learners

2 Teaching to Enhance Development and
Learning

8

In addition, the NAEYC standards for developmentally appropriate practice are
divided into six areas particularly important to infant/toddler care. The following
areas are addressed in this chapter: exploration and play, and environment.

175

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“. . . the issue is not simply having space but how it is used.”
V. Vecchi, quoted in Gandini, 2012a, p. 320

Reflecting on the role of space is imperative, as has been demonstrated as
a principle of the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy (see Chapter 6). The class-
room environment is considered the “third teacher” (e.g., Gandini, 2012a),
a concept that acknowledges the role of adults in carefully preparing and
selecting materials for indoor and outdoor learning environments. Teachers
should consider three aspects—physical, social, and intellectual—of learn-
ing environments when making decisions. All three must be considered in
unison because together they provide guidance to the children and adults
about appropriate behavior.

Consider for a moment how your actions are influenced differently by
being in a place of worship, a library, a shopping mall, or a family restau-
rant. All of these environments reflect messages of appropriate behavior.
For example, a library may have special sections designated for individual
quiet reading, small group gatherings for enjoying stories, and larger group
gatherings for acting out stories with puppets. The way space and materi-
als are arranged provides clues for appropriate behavior regarding physical
movement, social interactions, and experiences with materials (Photo 8–1).
The adults responsible for managing the space seldom have to remind oth-
ers of their expectations; the environment does it for them. Similar to the
designer of the library, a teacher’s careful classroom environment planning
will help children meet expectations for the use of the space and promote
optimal development and learning.

We must design learning environments so that they facilitate the best
care and education of young children. As discussed in previous chapters, the
importance of environmental factors on brain development cannot be under-

estimated. In fact, Marshall (2011)
argues that permanent deficits in the
developing neurosensory systems can
result from disruption, damage, or
deprivation in the infant’s social and
physical environment. It is imperative
that early childhood educators create
spaces that support the development
of social relationships and cognitive
development, while resisting

“the drive to protect our children [that]
is profound and easily can lead to
cleansing their lives of challenge and
depth. Early childhood is a time when
children begin to live in the world
and hopefully learn to love the world.
They can’t do this when fenced off
from the messy richness of life to live
in a world of fluorescent lights and
plastic toys, two-dimensional glowing
screens, and narrow teaching instruc-
tion.” (Greenman, 2005, p. 7)

PhOTO 8–1 Having a book basket with developmentally
appropriate materials available continuously can foster a love
of reading.

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Think about what the classroom environment you created says about
your educational values, your beliefs about the capabilities of young chil-
dren, and the role of families. The focus of this chapter is on answering the
following question: How do teachers create meaningful learning environ-
ments that facilitate optimal development for very young children?

8-1 The Teacher’s Perspective
Many teachers prepare their indoor and outdoor areas for learning, but
do they prepare these areas to promote optimal learning? Teachers create
environments to promote all areas of development as well as learning in
particular content areas, such as mathematics or social studies. Therefore,
a thorough understanding of child development and learning theories will
guide you in planning how to use your classroom space. When making
educational decisions such as the arrangement and selection of materials,
you should begin by reflecting on the age of children in your classroom;
their needs, interests, and abilities; your program’s philosophy; licensing
and accreditation standards; and guidelines for developmentally appro-
priate practice. Each of these factors helps you shape the various areas in
which the children will grow and learn.

An important question to begin your work is “How do I want the chil-
dren to use this space?”

8-1a Learning Centers
Learning centers organize the space and materials and encourage specific
types of behaviors in one location. For infants and toddlers, you can orga-
nize centers in several ways. A popular approach for toddlers involves
dividing the indoor and outdoor space into use areas. A quiet zone or pri-
vate space, a construction center, a wet center, a project area, a reading and
listening center, or a dramatic play center can be created by using tables,
short shelves, transparent dividers, and flooring to indicate an area inside.
For infants, these areas may be less well defined. For example,
a manipulation area will allow for exploring toys with the hands, while a
more open space becomes a gross motor area. The room might be further
subdivided into areas for specific types of routine care times such as dia-
pering or napping. The outdoor space should also be divided into learning
centers. Any experience done inside can be done outside; teachers should
not overlook the importance of the outdoor learning environment (Nelson,
2012; Rivkin with Schein, 2014). Painting, riding trikes, climbing and
jumping, playing in sand and water, growing vegetables or flowers in a
garden, dramatic play, and storytelling are all centers that should be out-
side (Nelson, 2012). More importantly, outdoor learning environments
should instill a passion in each child to explore, ask questions, and care
for the environment (Honig, 2015). Given the importance of learning cen-
ters for promoting development, it is assumed that your child care setting
will be flexibly organized into them.

When planning your learning environment, base the number and type
of learning centers on the size of the space and the age of the children.
In general, to maximize choice and minimize conflict over possessions,

learning centers A particular
part of the environment where
materials and equipment are
organized to promote and
encourage a specific type of
learning, for example, music or
science.

177chaPtEr 8 the Indoor and Outdoor Learning Environments

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a rule of thumb to follow for toddlers is to provide one-third more work
spaces than the number of children in your classroom. To illustrate, if you
have 10 toddlers in your group, you will need at least (10 × 1/3) + 10 or
13 spaces for working. This might mean including two spaces at the sensory
table, two at the easel, two or three at the art center, three or four in blocks/
construction, three or four in dramatic play, two in the music/movement
area, and one in the library/private spot. You can set up learning centers
outside but will not need as many because you will want to maximize the
amount of time children are moving and exercising; you can intentionally
plan games and movement activities outdoors or indoors (Dow, 2010).

8-1b  real Objects versus Open-ended Materials
Children need a balance of novel and familiar materials to attract and
maintain their attention (see the next section for a more in-depth discus-
sion). When children are engaged with materials and ideas, they have less
opportunity to create mischief or misbehave, thus enabling teachers to
change their supervision from guidance of behavior to guidance of learn-
ing. Developmentally, throughout the early childhood period, young chil-
dren are learning to use objects as tools for representing their thoughts and
theories about how the world works. Therefore, providing a balance of
real and open-ended materials promotes cognitive development. Making
available real objects such as child-size shovels for digging in the garden,
Navajo pottery for storing paintbrushes, or child-size glass tumblers for
drinks during meals (for older toddlers) serves two further purposes:
(1) it demonstrates trust in the children’s ability to care for objects, and
(2) it connects home and school environments. Real objects, when pro-

vided in response to the children’s expressed interests, can also
facilitate thinking about a particular topic or concept.

Open-ended materials, on the other hand, can be used by the
children to expand their understanding of concepts and demon-
strate creative uses of materials (Photo 8–2); these materials cause
children to problem solve and be inventive as they answer the
question of “what if” (Daly & Beloglovsky, 2015). Open-ended
materials include collected items such as fabric, cardboard, plas-
tics, pebbles, shells, pinecones, or egg cartons, as well as commer-
cially produced objects such as wooden blocks, animal and people
figurines, or connecting manipulatives. Open-ended materials can
spark, support, and enhance learning and development in any
learning environment. Neatly arranging them in baskets or clear
containers and displaying them on a shelf at the children’s height
will make them easily accessible to the children whether they are
working indoors or outdoors. Of course, some open-ended materi-
als might pose a choking hazard for infants and toddlers, so never
leave the child unattended during the experience.

Independence versus Dependence
A primary goal for adults is that children become independent,
self-regulated learners. For this to occur, teachers must carefully
plan the physical environment with this in mind. As mentioned

PhOTO 8–2 Open-ended materials
can provide extensive opportunity
for play and representation of ideas.

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earlier, providing easily accessible
open-ended materials promotes cog-
nitive development. This practice
also promotes social and emotional
development because the children
can independently select the materi-
als they need for their work and can
more easily help with cleanup before
they leave the learning area. More-
over, modifying the bathroom so that
all necessary hand-washing supplies
can be reached fosters the children’s
independence. Outside faucets that
have an attachment allowing children
to serve themselves encourage the
toddlers to get water whenever they
need it for their work.

Messy versus Dry
Designing space for daily opportuni-
ties to explore messy materials is a
must. In fact, Bredekamp and Copple
(1997) suggest that toddlers should have daily experiences with sand and
water because of their educational value. Messy experiences are particularly
significant for young children because they build cognitive structures or sche-
mas (i.e., tightly organized sets of ideas about specific objects or situations)
through sensorimotor and hands-on, minds-on experiences (Photo 8–3).
Some typical messy centers include water and/or sensory tables, painting
easels, and art. Water play, for example, provides opportunities for learning
about quantity, building vocabulary, and negotiating the sharing of materials.

What does a teacher need to consider when managing messy expe-
riences in a classroom setting? First, setting up messy experiences in an
area with vinyl or linoleum flooring allows for ease of cleanup when spills
occur. Second, placing these experiences near a water source can aid
in cleaning up and refilling containers or even adding a new element to an
experience. For example, if a sensory table is filled with dry sand, children
can transfer water from the source using pitchers, thus transforming the
properties of the sand. Third, placing a hand broom and dustpan nearby
prompts children to keep the area clean.

If you do not have an area with flooring that allows for easy cleanup,
you will need to be creative to provide such valuable learning experiences.
Placing newspaper, towels, or a shower curtain under a sensory table or
easel can resolve this issue. Another way to address this challenge is to
plan daily experiences with messy materials outside.

Noisy versus Quiet
Some classroom experiences are noisier than others. Cooperating and nego-
tiating requires children to interact with one another. Although sometimes
interactions can become heated, a caregiver’s goal should be to enable such

PhOTO 8–3 Messy experiences for young children build cognitive
structures through sensorimotor and hands-on, minds-on
experiences.

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interactions so that the children gain necessary perspective-taking and
problem-solving skills, not to stop the interactions or prevent them in the
first place. To manage the environment and facilitate learning, teachers can
place noisy areas close together. Noisy centers include blocks and construc-
tion, dramatic play, music and movement, and project work space. Placing
these centers adjacent to one another serves two purposes. First, the higher
noise levels will be located in a particular section of the room. This allows
children to concentrate better in the quiet areas, with fewer distractions
close by. Second, placing areas that require more supervision and support
together permits the teacher to engage in these interactions (e.g., assisting
children with problem solving) without having to travel between different
parts of the room.

Quiet centers consist of the library, listening centers, and private spaces.
For your mental health and that of the children, you must provide both
indoor and outdoor areas for children to be alone. These private spaces
allow the children to regroup and gather their thoughts before rejoining
others. A note of caution is needed here. You should never send a child
to the quiet or private areas as a consequence for misbehavior. Children
should freely choose these areas to help them relax. If you use the areas
for punishment, or the children perceive them as such, they will not serve
their purpose of helping them to relax and regroup.

Play in some other centers, such as with manipulatives or science/
discovery, fluctuates between quiet and noisy, depending on the type of
materials provided and the children’s levels of engagement. These areas
can be used to transition between the noisy and quiet centers.

When deciding where to place learning centers, teachers also need to
consider the needs of the different types of centers. To illustrate, the music
and movement center needs an electrical outlet for a CD player, shelves
for musical instruments, baskets for scarves or strips of fabric, mirrors for
observing motions, and space for creative movement and dance. Teachers
often have limited resources and need to maximize the use of equipment
and materials they do have. Locating the music and movement center near
the dramatic play area is one way to do this: these two centers can share
materials such as a mirror or basket of fabric.

8-1c  Calm, Safe Learning environment
Another question that you will encounter is “How can I create a calm,
safe environment that provides stimulating learning experiences for the
children?” In this section, we will focus attention on the last part of this
question: “stimulating learning experiences.”

Novel versus Familiar
Teachers and children deserve to be surrounded by beautiful objects and
materials that are displayed in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. A well-
planned environment should offer a mix of novel and familiar experi-
ences and objects that each infant can explore at her own pace (Copple &
Bredekamp, 2009). In other words, some of these objects should be part
of the environment on a regular basis, while others can be included occa-
sionally to spark interest. For example, hanging a framed print of Monet’s

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sunflowers on the wall near the easel will create a beautiful environment
for toddler children. Surprising the children with a display of Pueblo
Indian pottery one day will create a different motivation to use the easel.

Learning spaces should be varied so that children have the opportunity
to explore different perspectives. To illustrate, having the ability to change
one’s physical location by climbing up the stairs to a loft or playscape and
looking down on a teacher provides a child with a new view of the world.
Another way that teachers can vary the space and provoke thinking is by
providing a new display or object to explore and discuss. A ground cover-
ing with two or more variations can naturally demonstrate hard versus soft
and warm versus cold. Sitting on soft, lush grass on a hot summer day will
feel cool to an infant’s touch, thus providing him an opportunity to experi-
ence his environment in a different way.

Another way to conceptualize the familiar is to create spaces that par-
allel those found in home environments. For example, placing a couch,
rocking chair, and end table with a lamp in the entryway mimics a living
room in a home. A cozy nook like this not only adds warmth and comfort
to the learning environment but also helps to create a sense of security at
school: a home away from home. Having a hanging swing, the kind fami-
lies might have on their front porch, gives the adults and children a place
to snuggle and relax on a warm springtime afternoon.

Pathways versus Boundaries
As you are planning your layout, you need to consider how you will
define your learning centers. Having visible boundaries for centers
provides children with a clear message about the use of materials in a
particular area. Use a variety of dividers, such as short shelving units,
bookcases, transparent fabrics, and sheets of decorated acrylic. Flower
beds, raised gardens, or cobbled pathways make great dividers for outdoor
learning centers. Transparency, or the ability to see between centers, both
allows teachers to supervise and facilitates children’s play because they
can make connections between materials in different centers in each envi-
ronment. Even though materials are organized into learning centers, care-
givers should be flexible in allowing the children to move materials that
they need from one center to another. When planning the boundaries for a
learning center, you must carefully consider how much space to devote to
that area. As described earlier, the noisier areas often require more space
than quieter areas because these areas tend to elicit more parallel and
associative play, requiring two or more children at a time.

A teacher also needs to consider how to use open space. Because we
need gathering spaces for toddlers that can easily accommodate most of
the children and caregivers in the room at one time, we often set aside this
space for that one purpose. However, it is more logical, when not being
used for a gathering, to convert that space to a place for “rough and tumble”
play (see the Spotlight on Research box).

Pathways into and out of the room as well as between centers need to be
carefully considered. When children arrive for the day, they should be able
to complete a gradual transition from home to school. Having to walk to the
opposite side of the classroom to store their belongings in their cubbies can

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be stressful, especially if they must pass by noisy centers. When consider-
ing movement between centers, remember that walking through one center
to get to another can cause children to become distracted. Do you want the
children to walk through a center such as the block/construction area to get

Rough and Tumble Play

From birth, children learn by using their bodies. They
kick their feet and move a blanket; they roll over and
get to a toy that was originally out of reach; they learn
how to balance their body when standing for the first
time. They also learn a great deal by wrestling with
each other, jumping on a mattress, and playing chase.
Rough and tumble play supports the development of
the whole child: physical, cognitive, social, and emo-
tional. Carlson (2011) considers boisterous, physical
play a “developmental necessity” (p. 11). Teachers are
often suspicious of having children engage in rough
and tumble play for fear that it will lead to real fights,
aggressive acts, or injury. Carlson’s (2011) extensive
review of research suggests that these are not typical
outcomes and that there are many more benefits to
engaging in such behaviors than limitations, especially
for children who are experiencing social difficulties.

Flanders and his colleagues have investigated the
impact of rough and tumble play on children’s level
of aggression and emotional regulation. Their research
found that the amount of time fathers spent with their
child was negatively associated with the child’s level
of reported aggression. In other words, the more time
fathers spent with their children, the lower they rated
their child on frequency of aggressive acts (Flanders,
Leo, Paquette, Pihl, & Séguin, 2009). More importantly,
“when fathers asserted a minimum amount of dom-
inance, rough and tumble play is not associated with
adverse consequences [aggression or lack of emotional
regulation] concurrently and overtime” (Flanders,
Simard, Paquette, Parent, Vitaro, Pihl, et al., 2010,
p. 365). Paquette (2013) investigated this relationship
based on activation relationship theory. This theory
focuses on parents balance the stimulation of risk-tak-
ing behaviors with parental control during exploration
or interactions. When fathers more optimally acti-
vated their sons during interactions in toddlerhood,
the more the father-child dyad engaged in rough and
tumble play at the age of 3 (Paquette, 2013). This
body of research suggests that rough and tumble play
is very exciting and engaging for young children, but
that they need assistance in learning to regulate those
strong emotions. When fathers do not contain these

play interactions, the children can become excited to
the point of being out of control or physically aggres-
sive and, therefore, do not develop the skills required
to regulate these states (Flanders et al., 2010).

Rough and tumble play should occur not only in
homes. Early childhood educators should intentionally
set up space and plan ways to encourage such interac-
tions (Carlson, 2011; Swim, 2014). In interviews with
teachers, Tannock (2008) found that they could articu-
late the benefits of rough and tumble play, allowed chil-
dren to engage in it, but they did not actively plan for it.
The author concluded that these teachers needed more
guidance to increase their comfort level with this type
of play. Carlson’s and Flanders’s research provides some
guidelines. A few important ones are the following:
(1) set up the environment to support rough and tumble
play, (2) provide constant supervision for infants and
toddlers, (3) coach them at reading each other’s nonver-
bal cues (especially faces), (4) create limits for this type
of play and help children follow them, and (5) engage
yourself in this type of play with individual children,
especially those at risk for social difficulties.

When studying rough and tumble play in a university-
sponsored child care center, Lindsey (2014) discov-
ered that peer acceptance depended not only on the
type of play but whether the play was with same- or
opposite-gender peers. In general, for this group of pre-
schoolers, boys’ rough and tumble chasing was asso-
ciated with peer acceptance. When analyzed more
deeply, he found that boys who engaged in rough and
tumble fighting with same-gender peers were better
liked by peers, whereas boys who engaged in rough
and tumble chasing with other-gender peers were less
liked by peers. Thus, teachers much consider multiple
variables when planning rough and tumble play expe-
riences to maximize the positive benefits for young
children.

In addition, all teachers should be familiar with
state regulations related to rough and tumble play.
Although these regulations must be followed to remain
in compliance, if they are too limiting, work with col-
leagues and family members toward amending those
laws/guidelines so that each child can experience this
invaluable play (Carlson, 2011).

Spotlight on Research

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to the music center? It would quickly become evident from the
children’s behavior that such an arrangement does not work well.

8-1d  Basic Needs
As you are considering the educational needs of the children,
you must also dedicate space for meeting the children’s basic
needs for eating, toileting, resting, and playing. The question
here is “How do I plan the environment to meet these basic
requirements?”

Eating versus Toileting
Some infant and toddler classrooms separate the changing table
and food preparation counter with a small sink. This practice
may seem to be an efficient use of counter space, but it could
jeopardize both the early childhood educators’ and the children’s
health. For hygienic purposes, it is imperative that the eating and
toileting areas are separated (Photo 8–4). Although this is rela-
tively simple in a preschool classroom, it may be more difficult
in an infant and toddler classroom because the typical restroom
just does not have enough space for toilets, sinks, and a chang-
ing table. Because infant and toddler teachers must both contin-
ually supervise the children and also spend a significant amount
of time diapering, changing tables are often placed in the class-
room. Where should a changing table be located? Placing it next to a water
source assists with good hand-washing practices. You should also position
it away from a wall, so that your back is not to the rest of the children when
you are changing a diaper.

The food area can require a number of small appliances such as a
mini-refrigerator or microwave (per licensing regulations); therefore, cab-
inet space near electrical outlets is very important. For toddlers and older
children, space for eating can be shared with other areas of the classroom.
For example, the tables that are used for art can be cleaned and sanitized
when it is snack time or mealtime. Infant teachers must address other issues
when planning the environment. Depending on your state regulations, you
may or may not need a separate high chair for each infant. Finding storage
space for mealtime equipment must be given careful consideration.

Sleep and Comfort versus Play
Children and adults need locations to store special items and belongings
from home. This not only reaffirms the importance of both environments
but also teaches respect for one’s own and others’ belongings. Switch-
ing between environments can be stressful for people of all ages, so plan
for comfortable places for children to make the transition from home to
school, snuggle, relax, and enjoy reunions with family members. Couches
and rocking chairs located in a variety of classroom areas provide an excel-
lent avenue for this.

All children need time throughout the day to rest and rejuvenate.
Teachers should create a calm relaxing environment during nap or rest
time. Closing blinds on the windows, plugging in a night light, playing

Photo 8–4 Teachers must plan
the environment and adopt practices
to protect their own health and the
health of the children.

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soft instrumental music, and providing comfort items for each child (e.g.,
blankets, favorite stuffed animals) might assist with shifting from play to
sleep. You should also organize the environment to address the needs of
children who require less sleep during the day, by creating baskets with
books, paper and pencils, and other quiet toys that can be used by a child
lying on a cot or sitting at a table.

At times, children may prefer to nap outdoors after exerting themselves
during activities and play. A shady and easily supervised space made soft
with quilts or blankets should be readily available for resting.

We have now considered the learning environment from the teacher’s
perspective, but it is time to consider the child’s perspective. Although
presenting the material in this manner may create paradoxes (seemingly
contradictory messages), keep in mind that these are different sides of the
same coin. In other words, consider and prepare to articulate the common
focus of each perspective.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
question about the material discussed so far.
1. When planning classroom environments, why do we need to balance oppo-

sites such as real objects versus open-ended materials, noisy versus quiet, and
novel versus familiar?

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

8-2 The Child’s Perspective
First and foremost, the educational space has to guarantee the well-being
of each child and of the group of children. Children have the right to
educational environments that facilitate their social, emotional, moral,
physical, linguistic, and cognitive development; they also have the right
to environments that are free of excessive stress, noise, and physical and
psychological harm (Gandini, 2012b). At the same time, according to Loris
Malguzzi, the space should reflect how the school is a “dynamic organism:
it has difficulties, controversies, joys, and the capacity to handle exter-
nal disturbances” (Gandini, 2012b, p. 41). The following section explains
10 principles that are important to consider when creating your educa-
tional environment from the child’s perspective. You may notice that these
principles are not restricted to a particular learning center but rather apply
across educational spaces.

Consider each of the general principles in relationship to the spe-
cific children in your care. The environment must reflect and be respon-
sive to the unique developmental characteristics of children of specific
ages as well as the individual children within that age group (Copple &
Bredekamp, 2009). Although the general principles are relevant to all envi-
ronments for young children, they may manifest themselves differently for
the various age groups. One or two principles may be more relevant for
a particular age group or setting. To briefly illustrate, continuity of care
between home and school environments is vital for the appropriate care
of infants (see, e.g., Bergen, Reid, & Torelli, 2001; Bove, 2001; Essa, Favre,
Thweatt, & Waugh, 1999). Thus, plenty of space needs to be devoted to

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areas where family members and teachers can comfortably communicate
and ease each infant’s transition. Less space may be required for this pur-
pose with preschoolers.

Before providing detailed explanations of each principle, a general
overview of each will be provided, highlighting questions that a child
might ask:

●● Transparency—Can I see my friends, teachers, and family members
from almost any place in the room? Is there a place I can have some
time alone? Can I quickly find the materials I want to use?

●● Flexibility—Can I find areas that support my interests in the classroom?
●● Relationships—Can I build relationships with other people in my

classroom?
●● Identity—Am I an important person in this environment?
●● Movement—Can I move my body freely?
●● Documentation—Do the important adults in my life communicate

about me frequently?
●● Senses—Is the environment warm and welcoming and a place that I

want to spend 4 to 10 hours of my day?
●● Representation—Can I tell you in multiple ways about my understand-

ing of and theories about the world?
●● Independence—Can I do things myself?
●● Discovery—Can I find interesting things to examine closely and learn

about?

8-2a  transparency
Can I see my friends, teachers, and family members from almost any place
in the room? To support connections and relationships, children need to
be able to see materials and one another. From the adult’s viewpoint, trans-
parency adds to the ease of supervision. You should be able to see from
one side of the room to the other. This should not remove all privacy, how-
ever. Children and adults need secluded spaces to be alone and gather their
thoughts (Marion, 2014). To achieve this principle, you can use translucent
fabrics, shelves with the backing removed, or sheets of decorated acrylic to
divide areas (Photo 8–5) (Curtis & Carter, 2015).

A second concern a child might have is, “Can I quickly find the materi-
als I want to use?” This aspect of transparency considers the amount and
the presentation of materials in the environment. In general, you want the
room to be as uncluttered as possible. You should regularly analyze your
environment to identify unused toys or materials and then locate places to
store those items to minimize clutter (Cutler, 2000).

For those items that are being used regularly, carefully observe the
quantity of material being used by the children; have you provided too
many objects or not enough? You should strive to provide a sufficient
amount of material. The definition of sufficient is guided by your profes-
sional interpretation; realize that it differs for each group of children. The
aim is to provide materials to spark older toddlers’ interests, yet not totally
satisfy them, thus provoking them to use their emerging skills of imagining,

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pretending, and transforming objects for use. The phrase “less is more” is
key to this principle. Try to display the materials and supplies in baskets
or clear containers on shelves that are low and open so that children can
see what is available and can select and clean up materials independently
(Isbell & Exelby, 2001; Marion, 2014; Topal & Gandini, 1999).

8-2b Flexibility
Can I find areas that support my interests in the classroom? The environ-
ment should change in response to individual children and each group
of children living in it (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009). To illustrate, an
infant-toddler teacher modified her classroom as the children got older
and she noticed particular interests. For example, to support and further
enhance the children’s interests in building, she designed her room with
two separate construction areas. This seemed to work well for this group
because they could spread out to work in the distinct spaces. As one of the
children’s projects grew, she altered another area of the classroom to sup-
port their representation of a city surrounded by train tracks. For a short
period of time, this teacher had three classroom areas devoted to construc-
tion! She flexed her environment to best meet the needs of the children.

To many teachers’ dismay, child care programs often lack adequate space
for all that the children and teachers want to do. Combining or rotating learn-
ing centers is one way to maximize learning opportunities without overload-
ing the setting (Isbell & Exelby, 2001). For example, a toddler teacher in a
church-based program had to combine the writing and art center, while her
colleague decided to carefully select materials to merge science exploration
and reading/library into one center. In contrast, another of their colleagues
provided space in the outdoor environment for daily experiences at the sen-
sory table and easel to better use classroom space.

PhOTO 8–5 “Hiding” behind the transparent barrier.

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Related to that idea of combining centers is the notion of providing
open-ended materials that can be used in many areas of the classroom
(Curtis & Carter, 2015). Encouraging the children to borrow or move
material among the learning centers is another way to demonstrate the
flexibility of the environment. Hence, another question a child might
wonder is, “Can I move the materials and supplies around the room to do
my work?”

A final aspect of flexibility highlights the teacher’s role in building
engaging learning environments. DeViney, Duncan, Harris, Rody, and
Rosenberry (2010) suggest that teachers should create displays in the learn-
ing environment to spark engagement and creativity. These displays should
be changed frequently so that they relate to current topics of study. In addi-
tion, each display should be aesthetically pleasing and use real items and/
or natural materials. For example, Lois teaches a group of toddlers. They
are very interested in cars. She decided to go to a local auto salvage yard
and gather some items. She found a rear view mirror, fuzzy dice, and a
stick-shift knob. She then went to a local fabric store and found cloth sim-
ilar to what is on her car seats. The next week, she created a beautiful dis-
play of these items in the dramatic play area. The
children spotted the display immediately upon
arrival and began to talk about the materials.

8-2c Relationships
Can I build relationships with other people in my
classroom? The environment needs to support
and facilitate the development of strong, enduring
relationships among children, families, and staff
members (Honig, 2002; Galardini & Giovannini,
2001; Gandini, 2012a). As discussed in previous
chapters, continuity of care should be a priority
to support optimal social and emotional develop-
ment. Space needs to be allocated and arranged
so that adults and children have soft, warm areas
for gathering, snuggling, communicating, or just
being together (Photo 8–6). This space also serves
to create an “at home” feeling, which is important
because it helps high-quality child care programs
avoid an institutional feel.

To illustrate this principle, consider the infant
teacher who reorganized the entry to his class-
room to include two rocking chairs and a small
table. This provided space for him to speak with
families at the beginning of the day, gathering
information about family events and sharing
anecdotes from the previous day. He also noticed
that some families would linger in this area to
say their goodbyes. Moreover, he used the same
chairs to read to and snuggle with individual chil-
dren before naptime.

Photo 8–6 Space needs to be allocated so that
adults and children have soft, warm areas for
gathering, snuggling, or just being together.

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8-2d Identity
Am I an important person in this environment? Learning space should pro-
vide traces of those who live in it. Providing special spots for belongings
is also a must, because it tells children that items of value from home are
welcomed and respected in the classroom. Photographs of children work-
ing and playing, as well as family members and staff members both at
work and at home, should be displayed in prominent locations around the
classroom. Pedagogical panel documentation makes visible the work of the
children and teachers; provides explanation and evidence of the persons
living and learning in the space; and provokes dialogue and interpretation
about the work and the participants (Dahlberg, 2012; Forman & Fyfe, 2012;
Turner & Krechevsky, 2003). Such documentation also communicates that
it is important to understand the children and their work and adds to their
sense of self (Project Zero & Reggio Children, 2001).

Do not restrict yourself to displaying traces of the children, families,
and staff on classroom walls. No space should be considered marginal
(Gandini, 2012a). Using the door of the playground shed, a shelf in the
entryway, bathroom walls or stall doors to display photographs or works of
art, for example, demonstrates to children the importance of that space and
can provide additional information to help them build their identities (see
Wien, Coates, Keating, & Bigelow, 2005). For example, a toddler teacher
created a hand-washing chart using photographs of the children engaged in
the various steps of the process. This chart not only provided the necessary
information required to be posted by the state regulatory agency but also
assisted the children with independently completing this self-help task.

An additional idea is to place mirrors around the classroom in
strategic places, so that children notice their work or actions
from another perspective (Photo 8–7).

Another way to conceptualize identity is to consider the
ways in which individual children think about and engage with
the world. Some children are persistent when faced with a chal-
lenging task, while other children are incredibly inventive and
use materials in ways others would never consider. Children,
like teachers, must develop a variety of important dispositions;
good environments assist young children with this ongoing task.
Teachers must plan environments to support social dispositions
such as being cooperative, empathetic, and accepting, as well as
intellectual dispositions such as being creative and curious, ask-
ing questions, solving problems, investigating, and communi-
cating (Da Ros-Voseles & Fowler-Haughey, 2007).

8-2e Movement
Can I move my body freely? The environment needs to reflect
the National Association for Sport and Physical Education’s
(NASPE) guidelines by providing plenty of structured and
unstructured opportunities for physical activity and movement
experiences (see Table 8–1). High-quality environments provide
space for large-muscle movements such as climbing, dancing,
and acting out stories. Such environments also minimize, or

dispositions Frequent and
voluntary habits of thinking and
doing that represent a particular
orientation to the work and
responsibilities of teaching.

PhOTO 8–7 Mirrors also provide
valuable information that contributes
to the development of children’s
identity.

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eliminate entirely, equipment that confines children. A playpen, for exam-
ple, not only physically limits a child but creates a barrier that socially
and emotionally isolates the child from others. Holding a child offers more
safety and security than the most expensive playpen. In addition, wheeled
walkers do not enhance upright mobility development of infants; they
can actually promote bad habits such as walking on tiptoes. Before using
equipment that confines children (indoors or out), check with your state
and local licensing regulations.

Creating multilevel spaces inside and outside provides additional ways
for the children to explore their bodies in space. Adults should be mindful
of how the architecture of the room intersects with their educational goals
(Zane, 2015). Playscapes, platforms, and lofts, for example, not only pro-
vide a quiet space for reading or writing but also offer a different viewpoint
of the room and the objects within it (Curtis & Carter, 2015). When stand-
ing in a loft, many toddlers are larger than their caregivers for the first time,
thus filling them with a new sensation: power!

8-2f Documentation
Do the important adults in my life communicate about me frequently?
Some classroom space should be dedicated to communicating and record

TABLE 8–1 ◗ NASPE Guidelines for Physical Activity

GUIDELINES FOR INFANTS

a. Infants should interact with caregivers in daily physical activities that are dedicated to
exploring movement and the environment.

b. caregivers should place infants in settings that encourage and stimulate movement
experiences and active play for short periods of time several times a day.

c. Infants’ physical activity should promote skill development in movement.
d. Infants should be placed in an environment that meets or exceeds recommended safety

standards for performing large-muscle activities.
e. those in charge of infants’ well-being are responsible for understanding the importance

of physical activity and should promote movement skills by providing opportunities for
structured and unstructured physical activity.

GUIDELINES FOR TODDLERS

a. toddlers should engage in a total of at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity
each day.

b. toddlers should engage in at least 60 minutes—and up to several hours—per day of
unstructured physical activity and should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a
time, unless sleeping.

c. toddlers should be given ample opportunity to develop movement skills that will serve as
the building blocks for future motor skillfulness and physical activity.

d. toddlers should have access to indoor and outdoor areas that meet or exceed
recommended safety standards for performing large-muscle activities.

e. those in charge of toddlers’ well-being are responsible for understanding the importance
of physical activity and promoting movement skills by providing opportunities for
structured and unstructured physical activity and movement experiences.

Source: Reprinted from Active Start: A Statement of Physical Activity Guidelines for Children from Birth to Age 5,
2nd edition (retrieved September 16, 2011 from http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/standards/nationalGuidelines/
ActiveStart.cfm), with permission from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), 1900
Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191, www.NASPEinfo.org.

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keeping because reciprocal relationships are built on open, ongoing com-
munication among the adults in the children’s lives (Copple & Bredekamp,
2009). Adults require comfortable places to read and send messages, record
observations, and store or display documentation about each child, such as
portfolios and pedagogical panels. Returning to the example provided in
the “Relationship” section earlier, the teacher also used his entryway as a
place for providing written communication with families. Beside one chair,
he placed a basket that held the home-school journals (see Chapter 5). In
addition, he had a bookshelf where all of the children’s portfolios were
stored. The table provided space for him to spread out artifacts collected
over the week and make decisions about what to add to the portfolio or use
in this pedagogical panel documentation.

8-2g Senses
Is the environment warm and welcoming—a place that I want to spend 4
to 10 hours of my day? The environment should be pleasing to the senses.
There needs to be a balance of hard and soft, rough and smooth, novel
and familiar, simple and complex, quiet and noisy (Bergen et al., 2001).
Neutral or natural tones are preferable for both furniture and walls. Young
children bring plenty of colors to the environment; their natural beauty
should be a focal point rather than having it compete with “loud back-
ground noise.”

The principle of the senses also includes the use of natural light. As
often as possible, rely on natural sunlight to supply lighting for the class-
room because it is less harsh on the senses for you and the children. How-
ever, when this is not possible, you can provide additional lighting in the
form of lamps. Place them on shelves, end tables, or on the floor to create

smaller areas for work and gather-
ings. Avoid relying on overhead, flu-
orescent lighting, which tends to be
less warm and welcoming.

To provide complexity and aes-
thetic pleasure, you can include
paintings, sculptures, or photographs
in the environment (Curtis & Carter,
2015). Pillows, nontoxic potted
plants, and fabrics can also be used
to soften the environment and lower
the height of the ceiling. Moreover,
scented potpourri, oils, or plug-ins
(kept out of the reach of the children,
of course) can be used to provide a
pleasant aroma.

You also need to provide oppor-
tunities for infants and toddlers to
explore and learn using their senses
(Photo 8–8). You can’t be afraid to
get dirty or to let the children get
dirty. For example, imagine that an

PhOTO 8–8 A developmentally appropriate environment supports
young children in making decisions and in doing things alone.

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older infant is crawling outside on a small mound of dirt. She repeatedly
pats the dry dirt flat. If you pour a bit of water in one area to see how she
responds, she is likely to squish the mud between her fingers and giggle in
delight. Adding water may make the child dirtier, but it enhances the expe-
rience for her.

8-2h representation
Can I tell you in multiple ways about my understanding of and theories
about the world? Children need multiple opportunities to express their cur-
rent understanding of the world. Representation of ideas can occur through
painting, drawing, dramatic play, music, writing, sculpting, or any of the
other “hundred languages” (New, 2003; Edwards et al., 2012). The envi-
ronment, then, needs to provide space and open-ended materials for these
purposes.

8-2i Independence
Can I do things myself? Children desire independence (Photo 8–9). This
is a natural and healthy aspect of socioemotional development. A devel-
opmentally appropriate environment supports young children in making
decisions, doing things alone, solving problems, and regulating their own
behavior (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Marion & Swim, 2007). Use care in
selecting where to place materials, supplies, and learning areas because
this is one way to foster independence. As mentioned previously, display-
ing materials and supplies in baskets or clear containers on low shelves
allows children to select and clean up materials with assistance from others
(Isbell & Exelby, 2001; Marion, 2014).

Careful placement of learning centers adds to this sense of indepen-
dence. One toddler teacher placed her easel on the tile floor closest to the
sink. Not only was this more conve-
nient for her, but it also encouraged
the children to take responsibility for
cleaning up spills or splatters. In the
beginning of the year, she discussed
with children where paper towels
and sponges were kept, while assist-
ing them in cleaning up the paint. In
no time at all, many of the children
were cleaning up after themselves,
often without even notifying her.

8-2j Discovery
Can I find interesting things to
examine closely and learn about?
As mentioned in the “Senses” sec-
tion, the environment needs to pro-
vide a balance of novel and familiar
materials, permitting new discover-
ies that keep the learners engaged. PhOTO 8–9 Plan for independence.

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Providing unique things to explore, examine, and learn about does not
have to be expensive. Arranging familiar materials in a new location or
display is one technique for renewing interest. Another method to cul-
tivate interest in infants and toddlers is to offer treasures or items from
nature that they can explore and investigate (McHenry & Buerk, 2008).
Rocks, feathers, flowers, tree branches, and things that sparkle or shine
are all worthy of investigation (Curtis & Carter, 2015). In addition, provid-
ing recycled or found materials in aesthetically pleasing arrangements or
containers provokes children to think about them in new ways (Topal &
Gandini, 1999). The intention is to help the children with “finding the
extraordinary in the ordinary” (L. Gandini, personal communication,
January 26, 2001). Of course, remember to examine each item or material
carefully for sharp edges and the like to ensure that it is safe for the infants
and toddlers. If an item is a choke hazard, never leave a toddler unsuper-
vised while handling it (see the “Selecting Equipment and Materials” sec-
tion later in this chapter).

Before moving on to the last perspective on environmental design,
Table 8–2 recaps the major components from the first two perspectives:
teacher and child.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. Why is it important to consider the child’s perspective when designing a
learning environment?

2. What can teachers do to make sure that their environment addresses each
child’s development and learning?

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

TABLE 8–2 ◗ Key Aspects of Environmental Design by Perspective

teacher’s Perspective Learning centers
real Objects vs. Open-ended materials
Independence vs. dependence
use of Space
messy vs. dry
noisy vs. Quiet
calm, Safe Learning Environment
novel vs. Familiar
Pathways vs. boundaries
basic needs
Eating vs. toileting
Sleep and comfort vs. Play

child’s Perspective transparency
Flexibility
relationships
Identity
movement
documentation
Senses
representation
Independence
discovery

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8-3 Society’s Perspective
This section focuses on making decisions about the environment that are
good for the greater society. In other words, I am asking you to consider
ways in which you can “go green” or “reduce your carbon footprint” when
working with infants and toddlers in educational settings. Some changes
to consider might seem very small, and others might seem more than a
teacher can do alone. That is okay. Each teacher has to make changes at
her own pace. However, each of us should consider what we can do to
make long-term differences in the future world of the infants and toddlers
that we work with today. If we don’t think big and do our part, we run
the risk of permanently changing the earth’s climate in negative directions
(Sivertsen & Sivertsen, 2008).

8-3a environmental Changes for the Classroom
Teachers can take many steps to build an earth-friendly environment in
their learning environments (i.e., indoors and outdoors). One suggestion
for reducing energy use in a classroom is to plug appliances such as a CD
player, microwave, and computers into one or two plug strips. Turn the
strips off at the end of the day. Another idea is to use natural sunlight to
light the classroom during the day. This was mentioned earlier as being
good for the children, not just the environment. Taylor (2008) provided
evidence that older children are able to concentrate better when they are
in a green school that uses natural light. A logical extension of this find-
ing would be that the infants and toddlers also learn and grow better in
natural light. When additional light sources are needed, use lamps with
compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). As CFLs now come in a variety of
color spectra, try out a few different types until you find one that you pre-
fer. Some CFLs give off a warm light similar to the old incandescent light-
bulbs, so they are more pleasing in the environment. In addition, you can
consider using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) such as rope lights to provide
a small amount of light in specific areas of the classroom. Stringing rope
lights around the book corner provides additional light on overcast days
and makes the area feel warm and cozy.

Plants were discussed earlier as a way to soften the environment. They
should also be included in the environment as a way to improve air qual-
ity. Plants naturally clean the air that we breathe. In addition, if you select
flowering plants or herbs, they can emit pleasant aromas.

Teachers can also make decisions about how to create recycling areas in
their learning environments. In an infant classroom, create the space based
on how you use items. For example, it might be most convenient for you to
have three containers side by side: one for trash, one for plastic (e.g., baby
wipes or baby food containers), and one for glass (e.g., baby food jars). Have
small containers near the phone and documentation area to hold recycled
paper for writing notes. In a toddler classroom, make an area for recycling
containers that the toddlers can access independently or with supervision.
For example, you could put a box in the art center to collect paper that can
be reused. Help the toddlers to learn to distinguish paper that is reusable
from that which should be recycled in another area. At other times, guide
the toddlers to place items to be recycled in the proper areas.

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8-3b Curricular Changes
Many young children grow up in homes where food is purchased entirely
from grocery stores and where the outdoors is viewed as a dangerous place.
It is our responsibility as educators to help them feel safe and to connect
appropriately with nature. Yet, there is so much more to be learned by
engaging with nature (see, e.g., Honig, 2015; Nelson, 2012; Rivkin with
Schein, 2014). Nimmo and Hallet (2008) argue that planting and tending
to a garden teach young children about “play and inquiry, safe risk taking,
the building of relationships, and deeper understandings of diversity” in
nature and society (p. 1). Relatedly, other authors suggest that a lifetime of
healthy eating habits can sprout from teaching young children how to gar-
den (Kalich, Bauer, & McPartlin, 2009). Thus, teachers must intentionally
incorporate this into their curriculum (to be discussed in Chapter 9) oppor-
tunities for engaging with nature.

Infants and toddlers explore their world and work hard to understand
it and their role within it. As discussed previously, one way to address
their interest in the natural world is to create spaces both inside and out-
side for exploring nature. However, teaching about the environment goes
beyond providing selected items from nature; young children need ongo-
ing, meaningful experiences. To illustrate, you could plant a garden to
attract butterflies in your outdoor learning space. You could place magni-
fying glasses outside for the children to use along with paper and pencils
for recording their observations. These experiences over time would afford
the children the opportunity to talk about what they see, create hypoth-
eses, and search for answers. For example, if the toddlers notice that the
butterflies fly back to the garden each morning, you could ask, “Where do
the butterflies go at night?” Together, you could search for answers through
observations or in books.

Toddlers are also very interested in how things grow. They cogni-
tively link their own personal experiences to explain their observations of
changes in other living things. Growing a vegetable garden is a particularly
engaging experience for toddlers because of this interest. You could enlist
the assistance of the toddlers to plant fruits and vegetables that the chil-
dren are familiar with as well as novel ones. Encourage them to assist in
tending to the crops, harvesting them, preparing and cooking them, and,
of course, eating them. Toddlers understand, albeit in a primitive way,
that they eat food to grow. You can assist them in discovering that plants

A small group of families in your toddler class are
interested in being more “green.” They would like to
start a community garden on the land to the south of
the building. This land is owned by the center but not
currently used in any meaningful way. How would you
support these families in advocating for using the land

in this way? What information would you share with
them about the importance of outdoor experiences for
young children? Who else in your community could
you obtain information from? What might be benefits
of this project for families, the center, and the greater
community?

Family and Community Connections

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need food also. To extend this thinking and further help the environment,
you can compost their uneaten food from snack and lunch to enrich the
soil. Thus, the toddlers will come to see that they can play an active role
in helping to sustain their environment (Honig, 2015). More importantly,
however, learning to care for plants and the environment is part of devel-
oping a disposition to care (Noddings, 2005), and, as the following quote
reminds us:

The human heart and the environment are inseparably linked together. If you think
only of yourself, ultimately you will lose. (Dalai Lama XIV, 2002)

8-3c partnerships and advocacy
Teachers cannot tackle some of the bigger environmental issues without
creating partnerships with family members, colleagues, directors, and/or
licensing agents. For example, instead of needing to recycle individual
baby food jars, it may be possible to make the baby food in the kitchen
at the center or family child care home. Whenever possible, you should
shop locally at farmers’ markets or directly from farmers to obtain fresh
fruits and vegetables in addition to those available at your local supermar-
ket (Marriott, 2008; Taylor, 2008). Clean, cook, and mash the food as neces-
sary before serving it to the children. Involving children in the process also
tends to increase their desire to eat the “fruits of their labor,” which can be
a real benefit if you are introducing new vegetables to a group of toddlers.
When you need to begin with frozen vegetables, you can quickly thaw a
serving of peas, for example, from the larger package, cook, and then mash
them for an infant. Not only would this practice be better nutritionally for
the infant, but it would also eliminate the need to recycle jars.

Another option is for child care centers to reduce their reliance on
disposable napkins, paper towels, and baby wipes. Much waste is created
each day in an infant/toddler classroom. Teachers can rethink their prac-
tices to eliminate some of the waste. To illustrate, just imagine how much
paper would be saved if you switched to cloth napkins at lunchtime. In
addition, instead of cleaning up children with paper products, consider
the warmth and softness of a warm, wet washcloth on the skin after snack
or lunch. This may also start the soothing, calming process before naptime.
When paper products cannot be eliminated entirely, purchase those man-
ufactured with recycled materials, such as office paper products, toilet
paper, and paper towels.

Consider all of the waste with each diaper change. Given the yet-
unresolved-controversies regarding cloth versus disposable diapers, if a
family wants to use cloth diapers, you should make every attempt to sup-
port this decision. Consult your local licensing representative for specific
procedures that should be followed. Beyond that issue, there are other
ways to reduce the use of diaper wipes. When an infant is just wet, it is
better for the child’s skin to be cleaned with a washcloth that has been
dampened with warm water. You could place a lidded clothes basket next
to the diaper pail and dispose of the cloth much as you would the soiled
diaper. Then, the clothes are washed at the end of each day so that they can
be reused.

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Child care centers and family child care homes should consider
speaking with their licensing representatives to find ways to reduce the
use of harsh chemicals. According to Taylor (2008), research shows that
when hospitals use green cleaning products, patients recover faster and
spend less time in the hospital. It would seem logical that subjecting
infants and toddlers to harsh cleaning products to disinfect surfaces
may not be the best option. (Taylor [2008] also provides a list of clean-
ing products that are considered environmentally friendly.) In addi-
tion, it is important to remember that washing children’s hands with
soap and warm water is the best defense against spreading germs. Pro-
grams should avoid using antibacterial soap with very young children as
recent animal research suggests that it alters hormone regulation. While
the effects on humans are being investigated, the FDA is not suggesting
that the product be pulled from the market, yet the agency clearly
states that they have limited evidence that antibacterial soaps provide
benefit over washing with regular soap and water (US Food and Drug
Administration, 2010).

This section has provided just a few ways to start thinking about how
teachers and programs can “go green” to build a more sustainable society
for the next generations. Table 8–3 provides a list of suggestions that have
the potential to have a greater positive impact on the environment.

An environment should never be considered “finished” or “complete.”
You should frequently (i.e., at least once a month) consider the primary
question of this chapter, “How do teachers create meaningful learning envi-
ronments that facilitate optimal development for the children?” Regularly
review all the ways that the physical environment impacts the children’s
development and learning and vice versa because the answer is constantly
evolving. Teachers must continually assess and respond to the changing
developmental needs and interests of young children.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. What are three things that teachers could do to “go green” in their classrooms?
2. Compare the teacher’s perspective, the child’s perspective, and society’s per-

spective on environmental design. How are they alike and different?

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

TABLE 8–3 ◗ Changes for “Going Green” Making a Positive Environmental
Impact

utilize solar or wind power to provide part of your electricity needs. research available
rebates and incentives at the state and federal levels.

Order an energy audit from your local utility company. Follow as many of the suggestions as
you can. For example, install a programmable thermostat to minimize heating/cooling the
building at night.

Join a purchasing group with other child care centers/family providers to purchase paper and
food items as well as bulk equipment.

create partnerships with families and local businesses to recycle nonhazardous “beautiful
stuff” that can be used in unique ways by the children.

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8-4 Selecting Equipment and Materials
Early childhood educators must carefully select the equipment and materi-
als they make available to the children, based on the children’s needs and
abilities (Table 8–4). For example, with young infants, you should have a
high chair available for feeding; infants who can sit unassisted skillfully
can sit on a low chair at a table. Select materials to use based on your

TABLE 8–4 ◗ Basic Equipment for Infants and Toddlers

CHILD CARE CENTER CLASSROOM CHILD CARE HOME

Indoor

EATING

high chairs low chairs and tables

booster seats for kitchen and dining room
chairs

low chairs and tables kitchen and dining room table

SLEEPING

rocking chair rocking chair

cribs cribs

cots family beds and sofa covered with the child’s
sheet and blanket for naps

TOILETING

changing table sink and hand-washing
supplies

changing table or counter space in the
bathroom for changing

free-standing potties diapers, hand-washing and storing supplies

supply storage

toilet seat adapter toilet seat adapter

steps (if needed at sink) steps (if needed at sink)

STORAGE

coat rack coat rack near door

cubbies shelves: toys, books especially designated shelves in the family
room, living room, and/or bedroom where
books and toys are kept for the child care
children

RECORD KEEPING

bulletin boards corked wall and refrigerator door space to
exhibit art treasures

record-keeping table, counter table, counter, drawer

Outdoor

CLIMBING STRUCTURES

wood, tile, rubber tires, steps, tied ropes rubber tires, steps, tied ropes

CONTAINERS

sand table or box
water table

large plastic trays or tubs for sand and
water

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observations of the children to support their individual needs
and interests (Table 8–5). Kate, for example, is exploring peer
relationships and would benefit from a toy that puts her into
contact with others, such as a rubber ball. When Adrianna is
upset, she may need a soft, cuddly toy that encourages seclu-
sion, such as a teddy bear. Manendra is working on representing
complex ideas, so clay would be a good open-ended material to
offer him.

Materials and equipment must be selected with special care
because very young children put everything they touch to a hard
test: they bite, pinch, hit, fling, bang, pound, and tear at what-
ever they can. In their exploration, they focus on actions and do
not think initially in terms of consequences. Therefore, caregiv-
ers must take care to provide only materials and equipment that
can safely withstand intense use by children.

When purchasing equipment for any child care setting, con-
sider buying a choke tube; many states require its use (Photo 8–10).
Loose toy pieces are dropped through an opening in the device; if
the pieces go through the tube, they are considered a swallowable
hazard and are discarded or used only when toddlers are under
constant supervision. Toys with pieces larger than the opening are
presented to the child as part of the regular learning environment.

choke tube Plastic tube used
to determine safe sizes of
objects for child play.

TABLE 8–5 ◗ Types of Equipment and Materials

SOFT HARD

puppets blocks

cloth and soft plastic dolls hard plastic dolls

dress-up clothes cars, trucks

mats and rugs cardboard books

cloth or foam scraps wood

ribbon or yarn plastic bottles

stuffed animals sandpaper

rubber or sponge balls metal cans

OPEN-ENDED CLOSED/REAL OBJECTS

clay stacking rings

blocks zipper

water button/buttonhole

sand lidded containers

SIMPLE COMPLEX

one-piece puzzle wooden blocks

doll doll clothes

HIGH MOBILITY LOW MOBILITY

bike water

toy cars, trucks slide

stroller, buggy books

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PhOTO 8–10 Many states require a
choke tube in all child care settings.

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In other words, items that are not a choking hazard can be put on a shelf for a
child to select independently.

8-4a  age-appropriate Materials
When purchasing materials, be aware that the age classifications provided
will not accurately fit each child. This brings up the crucial distinction
between age and individual appropriateness. An item that is right for many
other infants may not be appropriate for a specific infant in your care
because of the developmental skills she possesses. Caregivers must deter-
mine when an item is appropriate for a particular child.

Selection of appropriate equipment and materials involves a cost-benefit
analysis. To determine whether an item is cost-effective, analyze the follow-
ing factors for each item:

●● The areas of development facilitated
●● The ages of children who can use it
●● The number of senses it engages
●● The number of ways it can be used
●● Safety factors
●● The type, quality, and durability of construction

Table 8–6 provides an example of deciding whether to purchase a
wooden telephone. The telephone was evaluated as supporting two areas
of development: social and cognitive. When program goals emphasize the
development of the whole child, a variety of items facilitating physical,
emotional, social, and cognitive development are needed. Some materials
attract interest at particular ages. The telephone can be used with a wide
range of ages, thus is a better buy than materials with a limited age range.

Because infants and toddlers interact with their environment through
their senses, they need items that stimulate the senses. Children of differ-
ent ages make use of their senses in different ways. In the first few months
of life, infants see many things and need items that stimulate their interest
in seeing. They do not have much control of their hands and fingers, so
touching is limited to bumping, banging, and eventually grasping. A lim-
ited number and kind of items are needed to stimulate touching. However,
18-month-olds actively use all their senses, so they need a wider range of
items to stimulate each of their senses. How many senses does the tele-
phone stimulate?

Some equipment and materials can be used in only one way; others
have flexible uses (refer to the discussion of open-ended materials versus
real objects in previous sections). Children and caregivers can adjust and
adapt open-ended materials in a variety of ways to facilitate development.
Single-use materials, like the telephone in the example, are in themselves
neither good nor bad, but they may be costly.

It is important to analyze how materials and equipment are constructed.
What they are made of and how they are put together will determine their
durability when used by the children. This in turn will determine whether
the item can serve the purposes for which it is intended in the program.
Poorly constructed items that fall apart are frustrating, often unsafe for

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TABLE 8–6 ◗ Guide for Analyzing Equipment or Materials

ANALYSIS

FACILITATED DEVELOPMENT TELEPHONE (EXAMPLE)

physical
emotional
social
cognitive

X
X

AGE GROUP

0–6 months
6–12 months
12–18 months
18–24 months
24–30 months
30–36 months

X
X
X
X

SENSES APPEALED TO

seeing
hearing
touching
tasting
smelling

X
X

NUMBER OF USES

single
flexible

X

SAFETY FACTORS

nontoxic
sturdy
no sharp edges

X
X
X

CONSTRUCTION

MAterIAl
fabric
paper
cardboard
rubber
plastic
wood
metal

QuAlIty
fair
good
excellent

DurABIlIty
fair
good
excellent

X

X

X

COST—$

commercial
homemade

$15.00

COMMENTS:

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children, and costly. The telephone is of high quality, wood construction
that should be durable for many years.

The cost of equipment and materials has become astronomical. There-
fore, most programs must decide which commercially made items they can
purchase and which items they can make themselves.

8-4b homemade Materials
Homemade items should meet high standards for construction, durability,
and safety. The items we make can be more individualized than commer-
cially prepared items, stimulating the interest and development of children
in the program. For example, using cardboard-mounted color photographs
of each child to identify space for storing belongings will appeal to the
children more than a commercially produced label. Resources such as Herr
and Swim (2002) and Miller and Gibbs (2002) are available that explain
how to make homemade materials. In addition, Part 3 of this text includes
ideas for homemade materials.

Diligent scrounging of free and inexpensive materials from parents,
friends, and community businesses and industries can greatly reduce the
cost of homemade items. One group that has developed a very creative
and beneficial support system to help child care programs locate and use
scrounged materials is the St. Louis Teachers’ Recycle Center. The organi-
zation operates a recycling center for discarded or excess industrial materi-
als that can be used by teachers, parents, and youth groups to provide
learning activities for children for free or at a fraction of the usual cost.
Because of the demand, they have a traveling recycle center for delivering
materials or displaying them at educational events.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. How can caregivers determine whether a piece of equipment or material is
useful in the program?

2. List safety factors caregivers must consider in selecting toys and equipment
for infants and toddlers.

3. Describe how a toy or piece of equipment may be safe for one child and unsafe
for another.

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8-5 Protecting Children’s Health and Safety
All early childhood education programs must have clearly defined policies
and procedures for protecting children’s health and safety. The child care
program should be a model for families to duplicate. These policies should
be well thought out and designed from the viewpoint of the child and with
prevention as the underlying tenet for health and safety.

Policies will need to be determined on such issues as these:

●● Respectful care and treatment of children, families, and staff
●● Confidentiality of children’s records

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●● Detection and prevention of child abuse
●● Emergency care and training for staff
●● Communicable diseases
●● Keeping medical records and files for children and staff up to date

8-5a emergency procedures
Each program should have policies and procedures in place and practice
them regularly to ensure that the needs of the children can be immediately
and effectively met in the event of natural disasters that are common to the
area (e.g., hurricane, tornado) as well as fire. Emergency numbers, evac-
uation routes, and established meeting places should be up to date and
posted in a convenient place for staff to see.

Materials or supplies needed during an emergency, such as fire extin-
guishers, need to be organized in an accessible location and tested peri-
odically to ensure they are in proper working condition. In addition, you
should practice evacuating the building safely with the children. Many
state licensing regulations require fire drills to be performed, timed, and
recorded on a monthly basis. Talk with the children about times when all
of you might need to get out of the building quickly; be careful, however,
not to scare them. Discuss how the sirens or signals might be loud and
hurt their ears. When practicing a fire drill, warn the children in advance
to minimize feelings of fright. If you have nonwalkers, select one crib that
can fit through doorways, put heavy-duty wheels on it, and put a special
symbol on it. When you need to evacuate, put the nonwalking children in
this special crib and wheel it outside. If you have toddlers, hold hands,
talk calmly, and walk the toddlers as quickly as possible out of the building
to the designated spot.

8-5b Immunization Schedule
Program policies for immunization should reflect the requirements set
forth by the appropriate state licensing agency. The immunization sched-
ule in Figure 8–1, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, provides a
general guide of immunizations for very young children.

8-5c Signs and Symptoms of possible Severe Illness
Each center or family home program that provides care to young children
must have policies and procedures in place to recognize and respond to
illnesses and communicable diseases. Teachers should watch carefully for
the signs of severe illness such as having a temperature; coughing, wheez-
ing or breathing difficulties; vomiting or diarrhea; or a rash.

Children who exhibit any of these symptoms or who demonstrate
unusual behavior in relation to any of these symptoms should be removed
to a predetermined place of isolation, where they should be cared for until
a family member takes them home. Given the contagious nature of some
illnesses, programs must report to other families as well as the local health
department that children have been exposed.

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8-5d First aid
First aid refers to treatment administered for injuries and illnesses that are
not considered life threatening. Before an event occurs, programs must
have in place policies and procedures to prepare the adults to act. For
example, programs need to keep a completed Emergency Care Permission
form on file for all children. This allows emergency medical personnel
to administer life-saving care if the situation calls for it. In addition, all
teachers and program staff (e.g., administrators, cleaning staff, and cooks)
should be educated in first aid, universal precautions, and cardiopulmo-
nary resuscitation (CPR) and keep their certification up to date. Thus, first-
aid procedures should be based on principles that are familiar to everyone

FIGURE 8–1 ◗ Recommended Immunization Schedule

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involved in the care setting. Take the following steps in the event of an
emergency:

1. Summon emergency medical assistance (call 911 in most areas) for any
injury or illness that requires more than simple first aid.

2. Stay calm and in control of the situation.

3. Always remain with the child. If necessary, send another adult for help.

4. Keep the child still until the extent of injuries or illness can be deter-
mined. If in doubt, have the child stay in the same position and await
emergency medical help.

5. Quickly evaluate the child’s condition, paying special attention to an
open airway, breathing, and circulation.

6. Carefully plan and administer appropriate emergency care.

7. Do not give any medications unless they are prescribed to save a life in
certain life-threatening conditions.

8. Record all the facts concerning the accident and treatment adminis-
tered on the appropriate form; provide one copy to the child’s family
member(s) and one in the child’s file.

First-aid kits should be visible and easily accessible to teachers but out
of the reach of children. Kits should be available in all indoor and outdoor
environments. If the playground is large, you should consider having two
kits so they are more easily reached. The contents of first-aid kits should
reflect your particular state’s licensing regulations, but they might include
the following:

adhesive tape bandages of assorted sizes
cotton balls roller gauze, 1″ and 2″ widths
flashlight gauze pads, sterile, 2″ × 2″, 4″ × 4″
latex gloves instant ice pack or plastic bags
blunt-tipped scissors tweezers
spirits of ammonia splints
tongue blades first-aid book

8-5e Universal precautions
Universal precautions must be understood and used by every person in the
care setting who is around body fluids. Each caregiver is responsible for
receiving the training and updates necessary to be aware of current policies.
Universal precautions are a set of procedures to prevent coming into con-
tact with bodily fluids. Infectious germs may be contained in human waste
(urine, feces and body fluids, saliva, nasal discharge, tissue and injury dis-
charges, eye discharges, and blood). Because many infected people carry
communicable diseases without symptoms, and many are contagious before
they experience symptoms, everyone must protect himself or herself and
the children he or she serves by routinely carrying out sanitation and disin-
fection procedures that prevent potential illness-spreading conditions.

Medical gloves must be worn every time bodily fluids are present,
such as when changing diapers or controlling a bloody nose (Photo 8–11).

universal precautions medical
term for a series of standard
procedures used to keep the
patient and staff as healthy
and safe as possible during
physical care.

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Blood contaminants such as hepatitis B are found in blood and blood fluid
(watery discharge from lacerations and cuts) and pose a real health threat.
Other fluids, such as saliva, may present health dangers as well. Proce-
dures for handling spills of bodily fluids—urine, feces, blood, saliva, nasal
discharge, eye discharge, and tissue discharges—after putting on the medi-
cal gloves, are as follows:

1. For spills of vomit, urine, feces, blood, and/or blood-containing bodily
fluids: Anything that had the potential to come in contact with the sub-
stance (e.g., the floor, tabletop, toys, diaper-changing table) should be
thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, even if contaminants are not visi-
ble to your naked eye. Use a solution of 1/4 cup liquid chlorine bleach
to 1 gallon tap water when cleaning contaminated surfaces. Even if the
area looks clean, anyone involved in cleaning contaminated surfaces
must wear gloves to protect herself from exposure to disease.

2. Blood-contaminated material and diapers should be disposed of in a
plastic bag with a secure tie, and labeled with a tag.

3. Mops should be cleaned, rinsed in sanitizing solution, wrung as dry as
possible, and hung to dry.

4. After you have removed your gloves, engage in established hand-washing
procedures (see Chapter 9) for yourself and with the children.

5. Because of the frequency of children touching objects to their mouths,
toys and all equipment should be sanitized and disinfected on a regu-
lar basis. Rooms with nondiapered children should be cleaned weekly.
For example, individual children’s items for personal care and hygiene
should be sent home with parents to be cleaned weekly. Crib mat-
tresses should be cleaned at least weekly. Thermometers, pacifiers, and
the like should be disinfected between uses.

PhOTO 8–11 Medical gloves must be worn every time bodily fluids are present.

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It is important to realize that having policies and procedures for uni-
versal precautions may not be sufficient for guaranteeing compliance
if everyone is not held accountable for following them. Alkon and Cole
(2012) discovered that child care providers in their sample demonstrated
the lowest level of compliance with national health and safety standards
for washing children’s hands and cleaning and sanitizing counters. Every-
one working in a child care program must come to value these policies
and procedures for what they really are: personal protection. As will be
discussed in the next section, adults can be at higher risks for contracting
contagious diseases than children are at getting them from us.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection
This infection attacks and destroys white blood cells, making the person
more susceptible to illnesses. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
(AIDS) is the final stage of the HIV infection. No cases of transmission
through casual contact have been reported in child care anywhere in the
world (National Network for Child Care, 2014). HIV-positive adults may
care for children. However, the HIV caregiver is at great risk due to the
highly contagious environment that child care settings represent.

Parents of HIV-infected children should be alerted to any exposure to
communicable diseases such as measles and chicken pox. Their pediatri-
cian will probably want to take special precautions to protect them. As
with any other child, universal precautions are used in every incident of
spilled blood or possible blood exposure.

8-5f playground Safety
The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) provides resources to
child care teachers as they work to keep playgrounds safe for children. This
organization suggests that when teachers use S.A.F.E., they uphold their
responsibility for keeping children safe (NPPS, 2015). S.A.F.E. stands for:

1. Supervision. Does not mean standing back and watching. Actively
engage in learning experiences with the infants and toddlers to support
their play and provide necessary redirection to prevent injuries.

2. Age-Appropriate. All equipment should be designed for the age of
children who are using it. The steps on a slide or a climber, for example,
should be spaced at the appropriate distance depending on how long the
children’s legs are. Of course, just because it is age-appropriate does not
always ensure that it is individually appropriate. Provide extra supervision
as necessary.

3. Fall Surface. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Pub-
lic Health Association, and the National Resource Center for Health and
Safety in Child Care (2011) suggest these modifications to make safer play-
grounds: place climbing structures closer to the ground (i.e., 1 foot per year
of age for intended users); mount them over 9–12 inches of uncompressed,
shock-absorbing material such as pea gravel, or tree bark; have enough
space for each child using the playground at any one time (amount varies
depending on the child’s age) to place all equipment far enough away from
other structures and child traffic patterns to prevent collisions; cover sharp

hIV infection Immune disease
that attacks white blood cells
and is transmitted through
open sores or other bodily fluid
sources.

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8-1 Create high-quality and developmentally
appropriate indoor and outdoor learning
environments from the teacher’s perspective.
Teachers must consciously plan indoor and out-
door learning environments to support the phys-
ical, social, emotional, and intellectual needs of
children. To do that, they must consider many
different aspects.

8-2 Improve a learning environment based on the
child’s perspective.
Preparing high-quality indoor and outdoor
learning environments should also consider the

child’s perspective. How is the environment
experienced by the children? Many questions
from the child’s perspective were provided to
help spark thinking and analysis about learning
environments.

8-3 Describe why teachers should consider
society’s perspective when creating high-quality
indoor and outdoor learning environments.
Learning environments need to reflect our soci-
ety’s need for sustainability. Strategies for “going
green” were provided.

Summary

edges and exposed bolts; and teach children to play safely. Mack, Sacks,
Hudson, and Thompson (2001) found that child care centers with indoor
equipment were using mats designed for exercising or tumbling as fall sur-
faces. When tested, those mats were found to be insufficient for preventing
injuries. Thus, attention to selecting the correct type of fall surface is just
as important indoors as out.

4. Equipment Maintenance. All pieces of equipment, indoors and
outdoors, should be examined daily to ensure that they are functioning
properly and pose no hazards to the children. Unsafe climbers, slides, and
other equipment should be removed until repaired. The Massachusetts
Department of Public Health has developed a Site Safety Checklist and a
Playground Safety Checklist that can be used or adapted for assessing and
providing safe and healthy indoor and outdoor environments for infants
and toddlers (see Appendix A).

As discussed earlier, everyone should also know how to complete an
injury report properly. Completed reports should be routinely examined
by all providers to identify and correct trouble spots. More importantly,
this regular, systematic study of injury in child care centers and in home
child care is needed to enhance prevention efforts because very young
children do not understand how to be safe (Waibel & Misra, 2003) and
because children 2–5 years of age cared for in child care centers experi-
ence more injuries than children that age cared for by parents in their own
home (Davis, Godfrey, & Rankin, 2013).

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
question about the material discussed so far.

1. Explain how universal precautions serve to protect everyone’s safety, but
especially the safety of the caregivers.

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8-4 Select materials for use in a classroom based
upon criteria.
Selecting appropriate equipment and materials
requires planning and reflecting. Items should be
appropriate for the age of the children as well as
reflect the needs, abilities, and culture of individ-
ual children.

8-5 Evaluate policies and procedures for protecting
the health and safety of very young children.
Teachers have to collaborate with colleagues to
implement policies and procedures to protect the

health and safety of themselves and very young
children. Sometimes teachers also have to create
or modify such policies and procedures for their
specific classroom, group of children, and/or
individual children.

Ena Robson, who was 7 1/2 months old, had an un –
usual first day in the group family child care center.
One of the helpers got sick in the middle of the day,
and another provider was called on to take her place.
The first provider had been ready to begin an assess-
ment of Ena, but her replacement was not told of this,
so she did not conduct one.

Ena was small, frail, and odd-looking. Her skull was
box-shaped, her eyes were set far apart, and her mouth
seemed to be in an unusual position when you looked
straight at her. She had only a wisp of hair, she was
mostly inactive, and her eyes appeared to be slow in
reacting to visual changes. On her first day, Ena was
dressed in a tattered but clean outfit with strawberry
patches and a hat.

Because the regular provider was sick again the next
day, the director took care of Ena and noted her appear-
ance after checking her medical records. She performed
a developmental assessment with the following results.

Physical, cognitive, and language skills were at the
four-month level. Her social and emotional skills
were at the six-month level.

Because there was a significant delay in three areas
(two months with a 7 1/2-month-old), the director de –
cided that a conference was needed soon so that appro-
priate referrals for further evaluation could be made.

A conference was arranged with Ena’s mother
to obtain permission in writing for the referrals.
Mrs. Robson arrived with Ena’s grandmother, who was
a trained nurse’s aide, early in the morning for the

conference. The director had reviewed the medical and
family records in advance and found no unusual med-
ical or family history. Della, Ena’s mother, was tall but
appeared to have been sick because she needed help
walking, had deep circles under her eyes, and had a
rather gray color to her skin. Della explained that Ena
had experienced many fevers off and on but that she
was well at present. The director began asking ques-
tions from an interview form, and after a short time,
Della became visibly stressed. Her voice changed,
her arms and hands waved when she spoke, and she
refused to answer questions about the pregnancy and
Ena’s birth. When the director rephrased the question
to ask if Ena was a full-term baby, Mrs. Robson became
agitated, and Ena’s grandmother answered in a calm
voice that it would probably be best if they stopped the
conference but that she would like to set up an eve-
ning appointment. A home visit was scheduled for that
evening in Ena’s home, and her grandmother said she
would speak to Della in the meantime.

The apartment where Della and Ena lived was small
and sparsely furnished. The grandmother and a regis-
tered nurse were administering an intravenous injec-
tion to Mrs. Robson when the director arrived. When
Mrs. Robson saw the director, she began to cry, and
Ena’s grandmother sadly explained that both Della and
Ena had AIDS. The director maintained a professional
demeanor and actively listened to the grandmother as
she discussed her sadness, anger, and disappointment.
It was obvious that both Della and her mother were
very fearful that the director would not allow Ena to

Ena’s Medical ChallengesC a S e S t U D Y

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stay in the child care setting. The director learned that
Della’s disease was progressing rapidly in spite of med-
ications, and that Ena would start on medication the
next day. Both Della and her mother asked the director
to please keep Ena.

The director assured them that they would keep Ena
in the child care center as long as she was not running
a fever or showing other disease complications. She
assured the family that all of her staff used universal
precaution techniques, and they were all aware that
blood was the only transmitter of the disease. She reas-
sured the family that her staff would hold, feed, and
play with Ena in both the indoor and outdoor envi-
ronments. They discussed the importance of having
Ena take her medication as prescribed by her doctor,
on a regular basis, and at the same time of day. As
long as Ena was without disease symptoms, the direc-
tor assured them that Ena was welcome to attend the
center. Both Della and her mother were relieved to
hear that the staff would keep the illness confidential
because that was permitted by law.

The result of the home visit was that no further refer-
rals were made at that time. The director and teacher
decided that Ena might need more time to adjust to her
new routine before another assessment could be made.
In the meantime, Ena was cared for in both indoor and
outdoor environments at the child care center, just like
the other children. The staff provided her with more
rest and activities to enhance her physical, cognitive,
and language skill areas, and Ena showed improvement
in her growth and development.

1. Discuss your feelings about working with a child
like Ena, who has AIDS. How do you feel you
would handle such a responsibility?

2. What should the teacher consider changing in her
environment to make it more individually appro-
priate for Ena?

3. What information should the caregivers use when
selecting equipment or materials for Ena?

4. What other steps or help might the director have
provided to this family?

Lesson Plan
Title: A Sculpting We Will Go!
Child Observation:

Charlie was at the outdoor table making a pile of dough
into a tall tower. The dough was soft from the heat
of his hands and from the warm fall day. The dough
kept squishing down on the table, getting flatter rather
than taller. Charlie showed he was frustrated by saying
“No” and “Don’t,” but he continued to work for another
six minutes.

Child’s Developmental Goal:

To develop fine motor skills

To demonstrate creative use of materials

Materials: Clay for sculpting, wire with handles for
cutting clay, placemat for each area at the table or a
cloth to cover the entire table, smock or shirt to cover
child’s clothing, wet sponge

Preparation: Put placemats or cloth on the table. Place
clay and wire near the end of the table so that adult

and child can cut off pieces together. Hang a smock
or shirt over the back of each chair to signal that it
is needed for this experience. Use the wet sponge to
clean up the area as needed.

Learning Environment:

1. When you notice a child at the table, join the child.
If necessary, assist with the smock.

2. Draw the child’s attention to the clay by using
descriptive language. To illustrate, you could say:

“This is clay. We can cut off a piece for you to
use. Can you help me cut it?”

3. Invite Charlie to use the clay with the child at the
table, if he hasn’t already.

4. By using prompts or asking open-ended questions,
encourage the child to touch and manipulate the
clay. Say something such as:
a. I wonder how the clay feels on your fingers.
b. How can you use your fingers to pinch or shape

the clay?

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Additional Resources
Bergen, S., & Robertson, R. (2013). Healthy children,

healthy lives: The wellness guide for early child-
hood programs. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.

Broadhead, P., & Burt, A. (2012). Understanding young
children’s learning through play: Building playful
pedagogies. New York: Routledge.

Bullard, J. (2014). Creating environments for learning:
Birth to age eight (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River,
NJ: Merrill.

Kuh, L. P. (Ed.) (2014). Thinking critically about envi-
ronments for young children: Bridging theory and
practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Quon, E., & Quon, T. (2013 ). Little cooks: Fun and
easy recipes to make with your kids. San Francisco,
CA: Weldonowen.

Williams, D., & Brown, J. (2012). Learning gardens and
sustainability education: Bringing life to schools
and schools to life. New York: Routledge.

Young, S. T., & Dhanda, K. (2013). Sustainability:
Essentials for business. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Publications, Inc.

5. Talk about how the clay compares to other dough
they’ve used.

6. If a toddler tries to eat the clay, redirect the child’s
attention to manipulating the clay. You might say,
for example:
a. The clay is for using with our fingers.
b. Please keep the clay on the table.

7. When the child is done with the experience, invite
her or him to clean up the area for the next child.
Be specific about how that should be done. For
example, say:
a. “Please put your clay beside the block of clay”

(while pointing).
b. “Use this sponge to wipe the table beside your

placemat” (while pointing).

Guidance Consideration:

If a toddler attempts to take the clay to another area,
explain why it needs to stay at the table (e.g., it is messy).

Variations:

When the child is ready, introduce other tools for work-
ing with or carving the clay. Talk about how the tools
work, and demonstrate how to use them, if necessary.

Important Note:

The focus of the toddlers’ work with clay should be on
the sensory experience. Toddlers typically do not focus
on representing a particular object or idea before they
start working or even after they complete their work.
This will come later.

Professional Resource Download

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© 2017 Cengage Learning

C h a p t e r

Designing the Curriculum

Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

9-1 Identify major influences on the
curriculum.

9-2 Defend why routine care times are
important for facilitating development
and learning.

9-3 Plan daily or weekly, integrated lesson
plans that are individualized for each child.

Standards Addressed
in This Chapter

NaeYC Standards
for early Childhood professional
preparation

1 Promoting Child Development and Learning

4 Using Developmentally Effective Approaches

Developmentally appropriate
practice Guidelines

2 Teaching to Enhance Development and
Learning

3 Planning Curriculum to Achieve Important
Goals

In addition, the NAEYC standards for develop-
mentally appropriate practice are divided into
six areas particularly important to infant/toddler
care. The following areas are addressed in this
chapter: play routines, and exploration.

9

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Having already discussed how teachers actively construct the physical and
social environments for infants and toddlers (Chapters 8 and 6, respectively),
let’s turn our attention to the intentional design of the intellectual environ-
ment. Curriculum is everything that you do with a child or that a child expe-
riences through her interactions with the environment from the time she
enters the classroom until the time she leaves it (Greenman, Stonehouse, &
Schweikert, 2008). While this definition may seem simplistic, it is actually
complicated because it requires teachers to consider all of their actions and
reactions throughout the day.

You should plan curriculum based on what you know about each child’s
development, that is, what the child can do now independently and what
he can do with assistance. Your teaching or caregiving strategies should
scaffold or challenge the child to move toward the next level. In this way,
it may be helpful for you to think about how the “curriculum is the child.”

Infants and toddlers participate actively in selecting their curriculum
and initiating their activities. When Jessie babbles sentence-like sounds
and then pauses, Ms. Howard looks over at her, smiles, and answers,
“Jessie, you are excited about finding the red ring.” Jessie is playing with
a large, colored plastic ring that Ms. Howard has set near her. Jessie deter-
mines what she will do with the ring and what she will say. Her sounds
attract Ms. Howard’s attention. Ms. Howard then makes a conscious
choice to attend and become attuned to her, engaging her as a competent
communicator. Daily experiences provide an integrated curriculum for
children to be actively involved with learning about the world around
them.

Because the infant and toddler curriculum involves the whole child,
the child should have experiences that enhance his or her physical, emo-
tional, social, and cognitive/language development. In addition, infants
and toddlers are working on understanding important concepts such as
gravity, cause and effect, and directionality. The caregiver is responsible
for planning and facilitating this holistic curriculum.

Each child is a distinct being, differing from others in some ways, yet
sharing many of the same basic needs. There is no single curriculum for
all infants. Caregivers have a special responsibility to design each child’s
curriculum by observing, analyzing, and planning. They can meet these
individual needs best when they adopt a developmental perspective. This
entails gathering observational data continually, analyzing the data, and
then using that data as the justification when selecting materials and plan-
ning curricular experiences. Thus, careful, ongoing observation on the part
of the adults (e.g., caregivers and family members) facilitates child contribu-
tions to the curriculum; it is responsive to the needs, abilities, and interests
of each child. Curriculum should also be designed with a purpose in mind.
In other words, you should balance meeting areas of development and areas
of learning so that the development of the whole child is addressed.

9-1 Influences on the Curriculum
Cultural expectations, the setting, the child, and the caregiver all influence
the infant and toddler curriculum. Each of these influences on the child is
discussed in detail in the following sections.

curriculum Everything that
occurs during the course of the
day with infants and toddlers;
planned learning experiences
and routine care.

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9-1a Influences from Cultural expectations
Families feel pressure from their friends, relatives, strangers (i.e., looks in a
restaurant), and the media about their child-rearing activities. They receive
comments, praise, suggestions, scolding, and ridicule on a variety of topics.
Sometimes they hear conflicting comments on the same topic, such as the
following:

●● The parent should stay home with the newborn and very young infant
versus it is acceptable for the parent of a child of any age to work out-
side the home.

●● The parents are wasting their time when talking to and playing with a
young baby versus the parents should talk to and play with the infant.

●● The infant should start solid foods at 4 months of age versus the infant
should start solid food after 9 months of age.

Parents must reconcile their attitudes and expectations with those of
people around them, including their child’s teacher. This is a long and
laborious task that often results in inconsistent beliefs and practices. It may
seem that parents are wishy-washy or flip-flop about what they do versus
what they want you to do. When you understand the various pressures on
families and use active listening, you can help them resolve these parenting
conflicts. Using the other positive communication skills discussed earlier
(Chapter 7) will help family members share their expectations with you.

Cultural variations will be evident during your conversations with
family members. Family members, even within the same family, hold vari-
ous ideas about child-rearing and parenting techniques. Some family mem-
bers, for example, expect to be perfect parents. The realities of parenting
often cause them to feel guilty when they fall short of perfection or when
they leave their child with another caregiver. Their frustrations may affect
their attitudes about themselves and their interactions with their children
and teachers. Sometimes jealousies develop. Early childhood educators
can discuss more realistic expectations when a family member raises an
issue. On the other hand, some family members seem very casual about
their responsibilities. They move from one parenting task to the next with
seemingly little thought of goals or consequences. Some of these family
members seem to place their children into child care with the attitude, “Do
what you want to with them; just keep them safe.” The caregiver may need
to emphasize the worth of the child in his daily conversations and encour-
age the family to consider how important it is for them to demonstrate in
multiple ways how they value the child. Between these two extremes are
family members who want to engage in positive parenting behaviors and
who actively invite caregivers to assist them and their children.

Family members look to teachers to reinforce and extend their own
child-rearing practices, which is a realistic expectation, within certain
boundaries, given the guidelines for developmentally appropriate prac-
tice (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009) as well as standards for teacher prepa-
ration (NAEYC, 2011a). Our goal is to create partnerships with families,
and supporting child-rearing practices, whenever possible, is part of the
process. Another aspect of partnering with families involves using what
family members believe to inform your interactions with and curriculum

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planning for the child. For example, if a family
feeds their toddler from their laps, then it is an
acceptable practice for you to hold the child dur-
ing meals and snacks.

Like families, each caregiver brings unique
cultural experiences and expectations to the care-
giving role (Photo 9–1). Be aware of how these are
similar to or different from those of the families
and other staff to plan and provide meaningful
curriculum.

Cultural Diversity
Culture can be described as the shared, learned,
symbolic system of values, attitudes, and beliefs
that shape and influence a person’s perceptions
and behaviors shared by groups of people
(Espinosa, 2010). The group of people referenced
in the definition can be large, such as African
Americans or Blacks, or it can be small, such as
an individual family. Child care settings offer
many opportunities to experience cultural diver-
sity because of how this setting raises important
issues for discussion around the care and educa-
tion of very young children. Every culture has
somewhat different customs, mores, beliefs, and
attitudes toward child care. Although the style
and form may vary from one culture to the next,
all cultures have healthy child care practices.

Some cultures do not talk to young children
as much as other cultures. Some do not smile at
them or expect a response. Some carry their babies

on their backs; other cultures carry them over their hearts. Father involve-
ment is different from one culture to another, as is the way family members
interact with each other. Families also differ on how they define indepen-
dence for their child. Brainstorming and other problem-solving techniques,
along with active listening, will help to address any misunderstandings
that may occur. Moreover, valuing and supporting these differences, as
well as working to understand child-rearing practices within every culture,
are important for being a competent early childhood educator.

Your job is to be sensitive to cultural diversity, seek additional informa-
tion when values or beliefs clash, and facilitate open conversations
between and among family members. This will not be easy because strongly
held beliefs are often hidden, even from ourselves, and, therefore, seldom
examined. Through shared experiences, readings, and conversations with
others, the adults can examine carefully their beliefs and then decide what
changes to embark on. In contrast, if you are embarrassed about discussing
differences or prejudices, you will continue to (unknowingly) act on your
biases—negative judgments about the style, form, and content of another
person’s culture that are made without a thorough investigation. More
importantly, however, is that not discussing these issues can actually result

culture Values and beliefs
held in common by a group of
people.

bias a prejudgment concerning
the style and forms of a specific
culture.

PhOTO 9–1 Each child is a unique being who
deserves positive support to reach his or her full
potential.

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in children forming biases. You could, through omission, perpetuate
oppressive beliefs and behavior (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010).

To prevent the development of biases, teachers need to take an active
role in helping very young children develop to their fullest potential. Opti-
mal development will not happen by chance or naturally as the result of
getting older. Human differences can impede children receiving all of the
rights they deserve (see Chapter 6) from teachers, other adults, and other
children due to inequity of resources and the invisibility of certain kinds of
people and cultures within educational systems (Derman-Sparks &
Edwards, 2010). Thus, teachers should implement an anti-biased
curriculum to challenge children’s current understanding about identity,
fairness, diversity, prejudice, and discrimination. Children should learn
how to think critically about unfairness and how to take action to remedy
unfair situations. Derman-Sparks and Edwards (2010) and Derman-Sparks,
LeeKeenan, and Nimmo (2015) outlined four goals of an anti-biased curric-
ulum for children:

1. Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride,
and positive social identities.

2. Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity; accurate
language for human differences; and deep, caring human connections.

3. Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to
describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.

4. Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with
others or alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions.

An anti-biased approach understands that teachers, both alone and
together, can make a huge impact on child outcomes. However, the process
is not simplistic; the society beyond their classrooms challenges change
because it “has built advantages and disadvantages into its institutions and
systems” (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010, p. 3). Child care programs are
no exception. Early childhood programs must reconstruct their culture to
move away from a dominant-culture-centered program that pushes other
viewpoints to the margin to one that intentionally pulls many cultures
into the center of all that happens (Derman-Sparks et al., 2015). To accom-
plish a many-cultures, anti-biased approach, teachers have to acknowledge
that each of us is biased toward what we have always known or our own
experiences. We must find ways to be open to looking at other ways of
doing things that might be equally valid. Many researchers and teachers
refer to the idea of tolerating different cultures as considering people and
ideas that are different from our own and finding ways of living together.
However, King (2001) asks that we transcend toleration and move to being
empowered by understanding the following:

1. Culture is learned. Children learn rules both directly by being taught
(e.g., “Hold your fork in your left hand and your knife in your right”)
and through observation. It can be a mistake to assume a person’s cul-
ture from his or her appearance.

2. Culture is characteristic of groups. Cultural rules come from the group
and are passed from generation to generation. Do not mistake individ-
ual differences for cultural differences. We share some characteristics

anti-biased curriculum an
approach to curriculum
development that involves
directly addressing issues of
identity, fairness, diversity,
prejudice, and discrimination
through critical thinking and
taking action.

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with our cultural group, but we are also defined by our individual
identities.

3. Culture is a set of rules for behavior. Cultural rules influence people to
act similarly, in ways that help them understand each other. Culture is
not the behavior, but the rules that shape the behavior.

4. Individual members of a culture are embedded to different degrees
in that culture. Because culture is learned, people learn it to different
degrees. Family emphasis, individual preferences, and other factors
influence how deeply embedded one is in one’s culture.

5. Cultures borrow and share rules. Every culture has a consistent core set
of rules, but they are not necessarily unique. Two cultures may share
rules about some things but have very different rules about other things.

6. Members of culture groups may be proficient at cultural behavior but
are unable to describe the rules. People who are culturally competent
may not know that they are behaving according to a set of cultural
rules; they have absorbed the rules by living them. However, teachers
must do the extra work to reflect on and identify the cultural rules,
beliefs, and practices that they bring to their work (Im, Parlakian, &
Sànchez, 2007).

9-1b Influences from the Care Setting
Family Child Care Home
The setting has a variety of influences on your curriculum. Physical loca-
tion, financial limitations, family work schedules, and other factors influ-
ence the schedule, environment, and curriculum in family child care
homes. Establishing a positive learning environment is essential to quality
care no matter which resources and limitations you find in your particular
setting. Establishing a consistent, warm, friendly environment where large
doses of the three As (Attention, Approval, and Attunement) are admin-
istered is the way to create the most powerful positive influence in any
physical setting.

Family child care homes provide a homelike situation for the infant
or toddler. During the transition for a child to a new caregiver and a new
situation, the caregiver should quickly establish a setting that is familiar
to the child: crib, rooms, and routines of playing, eating, and sleeping.
A warm, one-on-one relationship between the teacher and the child pro-
vides security in this new setting.

Child Care Center
Child care centers care for multiple infants and toddlers in a group set-
ting. Some centers care for infants 6 weeks of age and older, and a few
centers are even equipped to care for newborns. The very young infant
must receive special care. One caregiver in each shift needs to be respon-
sible for the same infant each day. The caregiver should adjust routines to
the infant’s body rhythm rather than try to make the infant eat and sleep
according to the center’s schedule. The early childhood educator will need
to work closely with family members to understand the infant’s behavior
and changing schedule of eating and sleeping. Consistently recording and

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sharing information with the family is necessary to meet infant needs and
involve the family in their child’s daily experiences.

Time
The number and age of children in a group will affect the amount of time
the caregiver has to give each child. The needs of the other children also
affect how the time is allocated. Schedules in the child care home or center
should be adjusted to meet the children’s needs and the family members’
employment schedules. For instance, if the father works the 7:00 a.m. to
3:00 p.m. shift, special planning may be required for the infant who awak-
ens from a nap at 2:45 p.m. to be ready when he arrives. Through the use of
attunement, the quality of interaction can remain high, even when time for
interaction is limited.

Educational Philosophy of Program and Teachers
The philosophy of the program needs to be clearly articulated to teachers
and families. Educational decisions should be evaluated in light of the pro-
gram’s philosophy. However, philosophy statements are often broad, leav-
ing much room for interpretation. This is where your personal educational
philosophy, including your image of the child, comes into play. You must
consider your beliefs and how they apply to daily interactions with chil-
dren, family members, and colleagues.

Programs vary in how the teachers approach curriculum (Photo 9–2).
Recent research on family child care providers will be used to help us under-
stand the variations. Some family providers approach curriculum as a parent
might. They don’t plan extra learning activities but focus on what happens
in the normal course of the day (e.g., free play, then work together to prepare

philosophy Set of educational
beliefs that guide behaviors and
decision-making for individual
teachers and groups of teachers
(e.g., programs).

PhOTO 9–2 The caregiver facilitates each child’s development by planning
experiences that match his interests and skill level.

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lunch). In contrast, other family child care providers intentionally create
more of a “preschool” atmosphere with multiple planned learning activities
that follow a set time schedule. As Freeman (2011) discovered, when she
inquired into the daily life of four family child care providers, many pro-
viders adopt aspects of both extremes. She found that their curriculum was
characterized by responsiveness, play, reflection, and didactic teaching.
When considering the first three aspects of the curriculum, the providers reg-
ularly made decisions based on what attracted children rather than prepar-
ing teaching objectives in advance and holding children to them (Freeman,
2011). These aspects were in contrast to their use of didactic teaching when
asked about teaching as an intentional act (Freeman, 2011). Thus, the pro-
viders fluctuated between being responsive to the children’s needs and inter-
ests by using strategies such as listening, negotiation, and encouragement to
using direct instruction, cued recall (e.g., verbal questions on first letter of a
word), and sequenced craft activities. Adopting an educational philosophy
that makes young children’s learning a stronger and more natural, integrated
dimension of the program would help teacher support optimal learning.
Freeman and Karlsson (2012) suggest that family child care providers should
adopt four recommendations, grounded in the Reggio Emilia approach to
early education, to improve the quality of their program:

1. Provide active, hands-on learning experiences.

2. Support play that promotes strong development and learning.

3. Offer opportunities for challenge within children’s potential.

4. Capitalize on the benefits of the home’s natural environments.

Those recommendations serve to further support the educational phi-
losophies that serve as the basis for this book. Important aspects of this
book include the following:

1. All people are viewed developmentally. From the moment of birth to
the time of death, every person is constantly growing in many ways.
Focusing on the positive changes resulting from growth helps maintain
a positive learning environment.

a. Each infant and toddler progresses through development at his or
her own rate.

b. Each family member and caregiver adds to his or her knowledge and
skills. Caregivers have knowledge obtained from talking, reading,
and studying, as well as individual experiences with children and
families.

2. Development and growth occur through active interaction with one’s
environment and can be observed through the four major areas of
development (see Table 1–1, page 4).

a. Each person is an active learner with rights and responsibilities.

b. Each person constructs knowledge through active interactions with
people and materials.

c. Each person adapts previous experiences to current situations.

d. Each person builds on the knowledge and skills learned from previ-
ous experiences.

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e. Each person initiates interactions with other people and materials in
the environment.

f. Each person uses multiple modes of representation to express
understanding about the world.

9-1c Influences from the Child
Every child has an internal need to grow, develop, and learn. During the
first years of life, children’s energies are directed toward those purposes
consciously and unconsciously. Although children cannot tell you this,
observers can see that both random and purposeful behaviors help them.

The children look, touch, taste, listen, smell, reach, bite, push, kick,
smile, and take any other action they can to involve themselves actively
with the world. The fact that children are sometimes unsuccessful in what
they try to do does not stop them from attempting new tasks. Sometimes
they may turn away and begin a different task, but they will keep seeking
something to do.

Infants learn from the responses they get to their actions. When the
caregiver consistently answers cries of distress immediately, infants begin
to build up feelings of security. Gradually these responses will help infants
learn to exert control over their world. If caregivers let infants cry for long
periods before going to them, the infants remain distressed longer, possibly
causing them to have difficulty developing a sense of security and trust.
Remember from Chapter 3 that research demonstrates unresponsive, harm-
ful, stressful, or neglectful caregiving behaviors affect the development of
the brain negatively. Children who experience unresponsive and stressful
conditions, either in a home or in a child care setting, were found to have
elevated cortisol levels. You can’t love a child too much or address their
cries of distress too quickly.

Joey, age 7 months, is crying hard. Paulette is speaking softly to him
as she checks to see if he is wet, tired, hungry, too hot, or too cold. None
of these are the source of his discomfort, so she picks him up and holds
him close. She walks with him slowly around the room, rocking him gen-
tly in her arms. Joey soon calms down. We can see how Paulette’s actions
influenced Joey. A child can influence her caregiver in many ways as well.
Eden, 30 months, has started to hide and make faces during her bowel
movements. Mrs. Frank has noticed and recorded it in Eden’s daily log.
Mrs. Frank soon begins to introduce Eden to toilet learning as a result of
the child’s own influence.

As you will learn in your day-to-day work with children, influence
runs in many directions. The family can influence your behavior just as
society can, and all come into play within the four walls of your classroom.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. List and explain three influences on the curriculum. Make sure that your
answer provides examples from three different types of influences.

2. Write a brief newsletter article for a child care center explaining its approach
to cultural diversity.

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

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9-2 Routine Care Times
Infants and toddlers have needs that must be met on a regular basis.
Some needs, such as eating and eliminating, occur frequently throughout
the day. Infant and toddler teachers often think that all they do is feed,
rock, and diaper children. Our traditional notion of teaching seems—and
is—inappropriate for very young children (Swim & Muza, 1999). That is
why our definition of curriculum presented earlier is so important. You
must come to understand that everything you do facilitates development
and learning. As discussed in previous chapters, using the three As—
Attention, Approval, and Attunement—while meeting the basic needs of
infants and toddlers promotes optimal development and learning. This
section provides examples of ways to organize and plan the routine care
times of the curriculum. First, however, we will discuss aspects of the
daily schedules.

9-2a Flexible Schedule
The schedule you create for the day should reflect each individual child’s
physical rhythms. Thus, your schedule depends on the infant or toddler
you are caring for (Photo 9–3). The goal is not to coordinate the children’s
physical schedules but rather to have a flexible plan for meeting the needs
of each child. During the first months, the infant is in the process of setting
a personal, internal schedule. Some infants do this easily; others seem to
have more difficulty. So when a child is first entering your care, ask family
members what the infant or toddler does at home. Write this down to serve
as a guideline. Next, observe the child to see whether he or she follows the
home schedule or develops a different one.

The daily schedule must be indi-
vidualized in infant and toddler
care. It focuses on the basic activi-
ties: sleeping, feeding, and playing.
Andrea arrives at 7:45 a.m.; Novak
is ready for a bottle and nap at
8:00 a.m.; Myron is alert and will
play until about 9:00 a.m., when he
takes a bottle and a nap; and Savan-
nah is alert and will play all morning
but is ready for a nap immediately
after lunch. As their caregiver, noting
these preferences will provide you
with guidelines for your time.

Children’s schedules and prefer-
ences for routines change over time.
Each month infants sleep less. This
affects when they eat and when they
are alert. As infants change their
sleeping schedules, they will adjust
to allow more time for exploration
and engagement with materials.

routine care times Devoting
attention to the developmental
needs of children while attending
to their biological needs. For
example, using diapering times
as opportunities for building
relationships with a child and
not just meeting her need to
be clean.

PhOTO 9–3 The schedule teachers create each day should be
flexible to meet the needs of each child.

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Toddlers will also differ in how much time they spend asleep and awake.
Morning and afternoon naps do not fit into a rigid schedule from 8:30 to
9:45 a.m. or from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. You can identify blocks of time for
specific types of activities but should keep in mind that no schedule can fit
each child’s needs.

Arrival Time
During this special time, the primary caregiver greets the parent and child
and receives the infant or toddler. This is the time for the caregiver to lis-
ten to the family member who tells about the child’s night and about any
joys, problems, or concerns. They should write down important details, for
example, “celebrated birthday last night.”

Arrival time is also a time to help the infant or toddler make the tran-
sition from home to school. The caregiver’s relationships with the child

Sudden Infant death
Syndrome (SIdS)

SIDS is a tragic event in which a very young child dies
after going to sleep for a nap or at bedtime with no
indication of having discomfort. The peak age for SIDS
is 2–4 months; however, SIDS can occur as late as
12 months. The peak time of occurrence is in the early
morning (Cornwell & Feigenbaum, 2006). Research
suggests that SIDS may be related to sleep apnea,
a condition in which breathing momentarily stops
(Sawaguchi, Franco, Kadhim, Groswasser, Sottiaux,
Nishida, et al., 2004) or hippocampal asymmetry
(Rodriguez, McMillan, Crandall, Minter, Grafe, Poduri,
et al., 2012). Research on apnea in infants indicates
that the baby’s brain is not mature and therefore peri-
ods of instability occur. Young children spend a great
deal of the day sleeping, yet REM cycles do not stabi-
lize into a regular pattern until 3 months of age. The
development of the central nervous system facilitates
the synchronization of sleeping patterns (Cornwell &
Feigenbaum, 2006). Regarding hippocampal asymme-
try, Rodriguez and colleagues (2012) believe that some
cases of SIDS might be analogous to sudden unex-
pected death in epilepsy due to a possible link with
temporal lobe pathology; this suggests a possible role
for seizures in the events leading to sudden death for
some very young children.

Fortunately, the incidence of SIDS is very low
(2 infants per 1,000 births between 1 week and 1 year of
age), but the American Academy of Pediatrics has found

that infants who are placed on their backs on a firm mat-
tress to sleep have a lower incidence of SIDS. Recently,
the American Academy of Pediatrics expanded its rec-
ommendations from being only SIDS-focused to address-
ing safe sleep environments in the hope of reducing the
risk of all sleep-related infant deaths. The recommenda-
tions continue to include infants sleeping on their backs
on a firm sleep surface, but they also endorse breast-
feeding, room-sharing without bed-sharing, staying
up to date on routine immunizations, using a pacifier,
and avoiding soft bedding, overheating, and exposure
to tobacco smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs (American
Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant
Death Syndrome, 2011). In addition, this organiza-
tion continues to promote “tummy time” at home and
at child care as long as the child is awake and closely
supervised, as this supports the development of chest
and neck muscles.

All early childhood educators are expected to fol-
low the recommendations of the American Academy
of Pediatrics when it comes to safe sleep environments
for infants. Barriers to following those recommenda-
tions include perceived parental objections, provider
skepticism about the benefits of infants sleeping on
their backs, and lack of program policies and training
opportunities (Moon, Calabrese, & Aird, 2008). Edu-
cators, directors, family members, and licensing agen-
cies can join together to overcome those barriers, such
as revising statewide regulations and monitoring and
creating systematic advocacy campaigns.

Spotlight on SIDS

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should provide a calming, comfortable, accepting situation so that the
child will feel secure. Touching, holding, and talking with the child for a
few minutes helps the child reestablish relations with the caregiver. When
the child is settled, the caregiver can help the child move on to whatever
activity she is ready to do. If the child is upset during the transition, use
emotional talk (Chapter 6) to address emotional needs and the desire to
maintain a strong connection with family members. Do not rush to distract
the child with other activities.

Sleeping
Newborns sleep an average of 16 to 17 hours per day. Sleep periods range
from 2 to 10 hours. By 3 to 4 months of age, infants regularly sleep more
at night than during the day. As children become more mobile and begin
to crawl and walk, their sleep patterns change, and they require less sleep.
Children should still be encouraged to rest every day, and a well-planned
child care program provides nap times that meet the individual needs for
children who are under 3 years of age.

If you are responsible for several infants or toddlers, plan your time
carefully so you are available to help each child fall asleep by providing
what they desire (Photo 9–4). Each child has preferences that you must
learn to build your curriculum. Ask family members how they put their
child to sleep at home so that you can coordinate your routines at school.
Some children like quiet time with a favorite stuffed animal or blanket; oth-
ers want to be held, sung to, and rocked; still others like their backs rubbed.
Because of the risk of SIDS, place the baby on her back on a firm mattress.

PhOTO 9–4 Caregivers should plan their time so they are available to help
each child fall asleep.

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Record when each child went to sleep and when she or he woke. Family
members need to know how long and at what time their child slept, and the
caregiver needs to know when each infant or toddler can be expected to sleep.

Some infants and toddlers have difficulty relaxing and falling asleep.
You will need to work with the family to create strategies that work in
those situations. Some teachers have found that various relaxation tech-
niques such as visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, and massage
(Berggren, 2004; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2011) work with young children. Of
course, making sure that infants and toddlers have sufficient opportunity
for exercise and full-body play can positively impact sleep patterns as well
(see Chapter 8).

Eating
The very young infant may eat every two to four hours. They should eat
when they are hungry, which is called demand feeding. Demand feeding
involves more flexibility for the caregiver and is one of the first steps to
building a bond between that person and the children in his or her care. It
is also the first step toward the child internalizing a sense of trust and secu-
rity. Ask family members how often the baby eats at home. Infants will tell
you when they are hungry by fussing and crying. Learn their individual
schedules and their physical and oral signals, so you can feed them when
they cry but before they become too distressed. Record the time of feedings
and the amount of milk, formula, or food the baby consumed.

This curricular time is to meet the nutritional needs of the child. All
food offered to the children should be nutritious. State licensing regulations
often provide plenty of information on how to address the children’s nutri-
tional needs. But eating is also a curricular time for nurturing physical, emo-
tional, social, cognitive, and language development. Always hold the infant
when you are giving a bottle. Maintaining eye contact, talking to, and build-
ing a relationship with the child creates a secure foundation for the child.

Infants are born with their primary teeth. The first primary tooth usu-
ally erupts between 4 and 8 months of age, but individuals vary widely in
teething. New teeth erupt every month or so after the first one. The average
age for having all 20 baby teeth is around 33 months. Figure 9–1 shows the
order and age at which teeth typically erupt. As children get older, they
begin to exert independence while eating. They no longer want you to hold
the bottle for them or feed them with a spoon. This is normal behavior and
should be supported as much as possible. During this time, however, par-
ents and caregivers often worry that the child is not getting enough to eat.
You may find that a child in this situation wants to eat more often; pro-
viding additional opportunities to eat can ensure that the child’s need for
food is being met. Children may also want to exert their independence by
skipping a meal or snack occasionally. Encourage community involvement
by having the child stay in the area where the other children are eating, or
allowing the child to sit on your lap.

All eating must be supervised, as the chance of choking is high for very
young children who are learning to eat solid foods. Food for older infants
should be cut into pieces no larger than a quarter of an inch. Older toddlers
can have half-inch pieces. But the best way to supervise is to eat with the
older infants and toddlers. Sit at the table and engage them in conversation.

demand feeding Providing
solid or liquid foods when an
infant or toddler is hungry.

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Toothbrushing
Helping infants’ and toddlers’ brush their teeth after each meal and provid-
ing information to family members about the importance of oral hygiene
will support the development of lifelong, healthy dental habits. Encourage
each family to have their child’s first dental checkup at least 6 months after
the first tooth erupts or at 12 months.

There are multiple steps for helping a toddler brush her teeth. First,
prepare the environment by putting a small swipe of toothpaste on the
toothbrush. Put a stepstool in front of the sink, if not already available.
Wet a washcloth with warm water for cleaning up afterwards. Then,
encourage the toddler climb up on a stepstool at the sink so she can
reach everything needed. Turn on the faucet and have the toddler wash
her hands; you wash your hands also. Next, remind the toddler that first
she brushes and then you get to brush her teeth. Encourage the toddler
to wet her own toothbrush and brush all of her teeth (not just the front
ones). Singing a song or speaking a chant you created about how to brush
your teeth can promote longer brushing. Then, it is your turn to brush
the child’s teeth. Encourage the toddler to spit out the extra toothpaste,
but this is not a necessity. Turn on the faucet and allow the toddler to
rinse her own toothbrush. Have the child wipe off her face and mouth
with the warm washcloth. Return the toothbrush to its proper place for
use later.

Diapering and Toileting
Most infants and toddlers cannot communicate that they need a curricular
experience involving a diaper change. You must be vigilant about checking.

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FIGURE 9–1 ◗ Dental Eruption Chart

PRIMARY TEETH

Central incisor 8–12 mos.

Central incisor 6–10 mos.

Lateral incisor 9–13 mos.

Lateral incisor 10–16 mos.

Canine (cuspid) 16–22 mos.

Canine (cuspid) 17–23 mos.

First molar 13–19 mos.

First molar 14–18 mos.

Second molar 25–33 mos.

Second molar 23–31 mos.

Lower Teeth Erupt

Upper Teeth Erupt

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Diapers should always be changed when wet or soiled. With
young children, it is common to have seven or eight changes
within a 12-hour period. Some children may have several bowel
movements per day, while others may have only one. If a child
does not have a bowel movement each day, the family should be
notified because constipation can be a problem in some cases.
Diarrhea can also be a problem because of the possibility of rapid
dehydration. As with other areas of physical development, accu-
rate daily records should be kept on elimination and shared with
family members.

Attending to this routine care time requires planning. Doing
so will allow you to talk and sing and engage in positive expe-
riences while you are providing for this basic need (see, e.g.,
Herr & Swim, 2002). Make this a pleasant time for both of you
(Photo 9–5). The steps in the diapering process (Aronson, 2012;
Swim, 1998) are as follows:

1. Gather all of the supplies (e.g., latex gloves, diaper wipes,
clean diaper, and change of clothes) you will need, and place
them in the changing area within reach.

Access to DentAl cAre

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends
that a dentist examine a child within six months of the
eruption of the first tooth or no later than the first birth-
day (ADA, 2014). This first dental visit is a “well-baby
checkup.” Besides checking for tooth decay and other
problems, the dentist can demonstrate how to clean the
child’s teeth properly and how to evaluate any adverse
habits, such as putting a child to sleep with a bottle
or consuming too many sugary drinks (including fruit
juice), which are significant factors in dental caries. Pro-
tecting the primary teeth is important because they cre-
ate a foundation for the health of the permanent teeth.

Access to dental care, while improving, is not uni-
form within our society. Children who are Black or mul-
tiracial, lower income, and lack a personal dentist were
significantly less likely to have a preventive dental visit
within the previous year (Lewis, Johnston, Linsenmeyar,
Williams, & Mouradian, 2007). Access to appropriate
dental care, however, might not just be based on family or
child characteristics. Two other factors to be considered
are availability and attitudes of oral health providers.

Not all children live in close proximity to an oral
health provider, even if their services are covered by
Medicaid. Most US states have expanded oral health ser-
vices to include physician-based preventive oral health
services for infants and toddlers to fight inequalities in

oral health and access to care. But has this increased
rates of utilization of these services? Among North
Carolina’s 100 counties, 4 counties had no physician-
based oral health services and 9 counties had no den-
tal practice (Kranz, Lee, Divaris, Baker, & Vann, 2014).
These researchers learned that children who lived far-
ther from the nearest dental practice were less likely to
make dental visits, yet distance from physician-based
oral health services did not predict utilization (Kranz
et al., 2014). They concluded that, for very young chil-
dren, oral health services provided in medical offices
can improve access and increase utilization. But what
happens when a child who needs more than preventive
care goes to a pediatrician?

Long, Quinonez, Rozier, Kranz, and Lee (2014) dis-
covered that pediatricians in North Carolina were chal-
lenged to refer 1-year-old children to a general dentist
if the child already had dental caries. The general den-
tists were more willing to accept referrals when they
could focus on providing preventive care and when the
parents saw the importance of dental referrals. Thus,
finding a dental home after the child has caries might
be a great challenge for families.

This research demonstrates that a complex interac-
tion of variables is at play when discussing access to
oral health care for infants and toddlers. Helping fami-
lies gain access so that the primary teeth are well cared
for is important both now and for later oral health.

Spotlight on Dental Health

Photo 9–5 Make diapering a
pleasant time for both of you.

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2. Put on latex gloves. Remove the infant’s clothes or pull them up to the
chest level. Remove the soiled diaper and place it on the edge of the
area out of the infant’s reach.

3. Keep one hand on the infant at all times.

4. Wipe off the bowel movement with a diaper wipe or toilet tissue, going
from front to back. Put this wipe on the soiled diaper. Continue until
the child’s bottom is clean.

5. Take off your gloves and wrap the soiled disposable diaper and wipes
inside of them. Do this, for example, by holding the diaper in your right
hand and using your left hand to pull the glove over and around the
diaper. Then, put the diaper into your left hand and pull the glove over
them again.

6. Throw away a soiled disposable diaper immediately in a foot-activated,
covered, plastic-bag-lined container. Put a soiled cloth diaper in a plas-
tic bag, which will be closed with a twist tie when you are finished.
When using cloth diapers, throw away the soiled wipes separately in
the trash container.

7. Wash your hands with a diaper wipe. If at any time from this point for-
ward you notice bodily fluid, put gloves on.

8. Put a clean diaper on the child, fitting it snugly around the child’s legs
and waist. Dress the infant again or put on new clothes, as necessary.

9. Wash the child’s hands in running water and carry the child to the next
activity.

10. Return to the changing area to clean it. Spray the changing area with
disinfectant. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water
before you do anything else.

11. Record the time and consistency of bowel movements. You and the
child’s family members need this information to determine patterns of
normalcy and to look for causes of irregularities.

Toilet learning should begin when the toddler is developmentally
ready. The muscles that control bowel and bladder, called sphincter
muscles, are usually not mature until after 18 months of age. Toilet learn-
ing requires two major functions—biofeedback and muscular control.
Toddlers learn to recognize the feelings their bodies have before they
urinate or have a bowel movement. They can use this biofeedback to
decide what to do. At first, they seem to just observe the feelings and
afterward label what has happened. When the child is aware of the sen-
sations of the sphincter muscles and can control them until the appro-
priate time, he or she is ready for toilet learning. Timing and control
must be coordinated. Toddlers may have some control at first but not
enough to last as long as it takes to get into the bathroom, get clothes out
of the way, and get seated or standing. Through feedback and adjust-
ments, toddlers learn what their bodies are doing and what they can
control and plan.

Toddlers tell you through their behavior and words that they are
ready for toilet learning. Behaviors include staying dry for a few hours;

toilet learning the
developmental process for
gaining control of bladder
and bowels; complex process
involving physical, cognitive,
social, emotional, and
language skills.

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demonstrating awareness that they are going to the bathroom (e.g.,
squatting); telling you that they have urinated or had a bowel move-
ment after they have; and showing a desire to be dry and wear under-
pants. Research by Barone, Jasutkar, and Schneider (2009) suggested that
toilet learning should be initiated prior to the age of 32 months for
children who display these signs of toilet learning because starting
after that time was associated with increased rates of urge incontinence
for children in their sample. However, there is no right age by which
all children should be using the toilet independently. Schum, Kolb,
McAuliffe, Simms, Underhill, and Lewis (2002) found that the median
age when girls could independently enter the bathroom and urinate
by themselves was 33.0 months, whereas the same skill for boys was
achieved at 37.1 months.

When the child starts toilet learning, use training pants at home and
at the child care program. Do not put diapers on the toddler during nap
time. Outer clothes must be loose or easily removed to facilitate indepen-
dence. Help the toddler acquire self-help skills by instructing her how to
pull down necessary clothes and how to get seated on the adapter seat or
potty chair. For the boy who can reach while standing, determine where
he should stand and direct his penis. If the child needs to have a bowel
movement, use your knowledge gained from family members to decide
whether to give the child a sense of privacy or whether you should stay
near. If he wants you to be nearby, read a book to support literacy develop-
ment (being sure to clean the books on a regular basis), or engage the child
in a conversation about his work so far or what he is planning to do next
to support reflection and planning. To support understanding of diversity,
you could also engage in a conversation about how the child is similar to
and different from you (Aldridge, 2010). For example, you could discuss
hair color versus hair texture. When the child is done, put on your gloves
before proceeding. Teach how to get toilet paper and how to wipe from
front to back. Then let the child try to do it alone. Check to see if assis-
tance is needed in cleaning the child’s bottom. Support independence in
getting clothes back up. Remove gloves. Both you and the child should
wash your hands thoroughly.

Throughout the toilet learning process, toddlers will need special
reminders, especially during play, regarding when they typically need to
go to the bathroom. A good approach to toilet learning is to provide spe-
cific feedback on success and avoid punishing or shaming for mistakes.
The child should participate as much as possible for his or her age in
cleaning up when accidents happen.

Of course, toilet learning is not a skill that can be learned only while
in your care; it takes a concerted effort by everyone to achieve indepen-
dence. Both the home and the child care program need to begin at the
same time and use the same procedures. Let the toddler’s family direct
the timing. All human relationships are bound to involve conflicts and
disagreements. Toilet learning is an area ripe for such conflicts because
it is accompanied by such a great deal of variability in cultural beliefs
(Gonzalez-Mena, 2001; Gonzalez-Mena & Eyer, 2007). Cultural groups
and individual families within those groups often have strong beliefs

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about when and how to assist with toilet learning.
One family will start toilet learning at 1 year of age
and another will wait until the child is “ready,”
while still another may not provide any formal
assistance until the child is 4 years of age. None
of these perspectives on timing is definitively cor-
rect or incorrect; they reflect different belief sys-
tems. As a parent, member of a cultural group,
and/or a teacher, you have beliefs about toileting
also. Open communication and respectful listen-
ing are the beginning steps in addressing cultural
conflicts, but they are not enough. You must be
clear about your own views and the philosophy of
the program so that you can truly listen and work
toward solutions with the families. Issues such as
toilet learning will not be resolved in one conver-
sation. Sustained dialogue is necessary for resolv-
ing the conflict (Gonzalez-Mena, 2001).

Hand Washing
Frequent hand washing is a vital routine for care-
givers and children to establish because failure to
do it is directly related to the occurrence of illness
(Photo 9–6). Hand-washing procedures should be
thorough: a quick rinse with clear water does not
remove microorganisms.

The caregiver must wash hands before

●● working with children at the
beginning of the day.

●● handling bottles, food, or feeding
utensils.

●● assisting child with face and
hand washing.

●● assisting child with brushing teeth.

The child must wash hands
before

●● handling food and food
utensils.

●● brushing teeth.

The caregiver must wash hands after

●● feeding.
●● cleaning up.
●● diapering (remove gloves first).
●● assisting with toileting (remove

gloves first).
●● wiping or assisting with a runny

nose (remove gloves first).
●● working with wet, sticky, dirty

items (remove gloves first).

The child must wash hands
after

●● eating.
●● diapering or toileting.
●● playing with wet, sticky,

and/or dirty items (e.g.,
sand, mud).

PhOTO 9–6 Caregivers should make hand
washing a routine for themselves and the children.

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Proper procedures for hand washing include wetting the whole hand
with warm water, applying soap, and rubbing the whole hand—palm, back,
between fingers, and around fingernails. Rinse with clean water, rubbing the
skin to help remove the microorganisms and soap. Dry hands on a dispos-
able paper towel that has no colored dyes in it. Throw away the towel so
others do not have to handle it. You can also use small washcloths as towels,
with each child using his own once and then putting it in the laundry basket.

Toddlers who can stand on a stepstool at the sink can be somewhat
independent in washing their own hands. Stay nearby so you can verbally
remind them of the steps and provide physical assistance when needed.
Singing a favorite song or reciting a nursery rhyme can help make this time
enjoyable. In addition, to support scientific understanding, allow time for
the toddlers to explore the water; how it feels on their arms versus their
hands, how it splashes, and what it takes to clean up spills.

End of the Day
At the end of each child’s day, collect your thoughts and decide what to share
with family members. To help you remember, or to gather information for
other caregivers who work with the child, review the notes in the child’s port-
folio or on the report sheet. This sharing time includes the family members
in the child’s day and provides a transition for the child from school to home.

As mentioned several times throughout this section, routine care times
can be designed to support and enhance both development and learning.
Singing songs, reciting nursery rhymes and fingerplays, and exploring the
properties of water can support various aspects of learning. We will turn
our attention to planning learning experiences in the next section.

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. Why is flexibility in schedules important in an infant and toddler program?
How would you explain this need for flexibility to a child’s family member?

2. List three routine care times. Explain how each event can be used to promote
the development of the child.

3. How is toilet learning a complex developmental accomplishment?

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

9-3 Planned Learning Experiences
In between sleeping and eating, infants and toddlers have alert times when
they are very aware and attracted to the world around them. This is the
time when the caregiver does special activities with them (see Part 3). The
infant or toddler discovers himself or herself, plays, and talks and interacts
with you and others. Children have fun when in an alert state, as they
actively involve themselves in the world.

Determine the times when the infants and toddlers in your care are
alert. Decide which times each individual child will spend alone with
appropriate materials you have selected and which times you will spend
together one-on-one or in a small group. Each infant or toddler needs
some time during each day to play with his or her primary caregiver. This

alert times times during the
day when a child is attending
and attracted to the world
around him or her.

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playtime is in addition to the time you spend changing diapers, feeding the
child, and helping the child get to sleep.

As you play with the infant or toddler, you will discover how long that
child remains interested. Stop before the child gets tired. The child is just
learning how to interact with others and needs rest times and unpressured
times in between highly attentive times. With an infant, you might play a
reaching-grasping game for a couple of minutes, a visual focusing activity
for about a minute, and a standing-bouncing-singing game for a minute.
Watch the infant’s reactions to determine when to extend the activity to
two minutes, five minutes, and so on. Alternate interactive times with time
spent playing alone. Infants will stay awake and alert longer if they have
some times of stimulation and interaction.

Toddlers spend increasing amounts of time in play. There should be
opportunities for self-directed play as well as challenge and interaction
with the caregiver. Toddlers also need quiet, uninterrupted time during
their day. Constant activity, especially in a group setting, is emotionally
and physically wearing on them.

NAEYC’s guidelines for developmentally appropriate practices support
our understanding of how to create learning experiences:

1. Providing experiences for all areas of development: physical, cognitive,
language, social, and emotional

2. Building on what the children already know and are able to do

3. Promoting the development of knowledge and understanding, pro-
cesses and skills, as well as dispositions toward learning

4. Supporting home cultures and languages while developing a shared
culture of the learning community

5. Setting goals that are realistic and attainable for each child (Copple &
Bredekamp, 2009).

In addition, Freeman and Swim (2009) challenge teachers to evaluate
the intellectual integrity of their work. Examining educational rituals and
classroom practices often uncovers instructional strategies that are more
about the teacher than for an individual or a group of children. Giving
infants copies or pages from a coloring book, for example, focuses on the
perceptions of the teachers and other adults (e.g., family members) rather
than the learning needs of infants. When infants are able to hold a spoon,
they are able to hold a chunky crayon. Yet, they should be encouraged to
make their own marks on blank paper.

The following sections discuss the specifics of how to create curricu-
lum for infants and toddlers.

9-3a Daily plans
For infants and young toddlers, you should plan experiences daily for each
child (Photo 9–7). Assess the four areas of development for children by
gathering observational data using the Developmental Milestones (Appen-
dix A). Analyze your data and determine the skills that the child can do
independently and with assistance. Translate these skills into daily plans.

After implementing some planned experiences, you can use the data
gathered and recorded to plan new experiences for the next day. This is

daily plans an approach to
curriculum in which planned
learning experiences are
designed daily based on specific
observations of the children.

planned experiences
curricular experiences
designed to enhance and
support the individual learning
needs, interests, and abilities
of the children in an early
childhood program.

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called the assessment-planning-teaching loop.
As a loop, caregivers can begin anywhere in the
process. However, infant and toddler teachers are
becoming more and more accountable for using
evidence-based practices. If you start with obser-
vational data, you can more easily explain to your
director, co-teacher, or family members the ratio-
nale or justification for your planning. Imagine
that you implemented one or both experiences
outlined on Table 9–1. What data did you collect
and record after the experience, and how would
you use that information to plan the next learning
experience?

When planning experiences, you should
not only consider the children’s developmental
needs and abilities but also their interests and
culture. If you want an infant to practice finding
hidden objects, for example, hide a rattle that
the child likes. Curricular experiences should
balance practicing or reinforcing skills with in –
troducing new ones. Introducing too many
new experiences can overstimulate the infant or
make him overtired. Carefully read the child’s
nonverbal communication to know when to stop
the experience. Regarding cultural appropriate-
ness, you should select materials for learning
experiences that reflect the cultures and back-
grounds of the children in the classroom. For
example, when working with dough, select var-
ious shades of brown and pink/peach, or use
chopsticks or Splayds (Australian name-brand
sporf—a spork with a knife edge) instead of forks
and knives.

In addition, with each planned experience, consider extensions
or adaptations so that you can be flexible in addressing the children’s

Photo 9–7 Plan time throughout the day to
interact one on one with each infant or toddler.

tABLE 9–1 ◗ Sample Section of a Weekly Plan for Two Individual Children

ExamplE:

Child’s NamE: WEEk:

arEa of dEvElopmENt matErials CarEgivEr stratEgiEs aNd CommENts

Physical: (Seeing) Roberto:
Visual tracking

Red ribbon
bow

Hold bow where infant can focus. Slowly move
bow to side, to front, to other side. Observe
eyes holding focus. Stop. Talk to infant, and
repeat moving bow.

Naomi: Changing focus Red and
blue ribbon
bows

Hold red bow where infant can focus. Lift up
blue bow and hold a few inches to side of red
bow. Observe eyes changing focus. Continue
changing positions with both bows.

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reactions to the materials. How, for example, could you make the experi-
ence less challenging or more challenging?

9-3b Weekly plans
For older toddlers, you can plan experiences by the week, but you must
modify the weekly plans throughout the week to respond to the children’s
needs. Planning for the entire week affords you the ability to carefully plan
the learning environment (see Chapter 8) and make available appropriate
materials, equipment, and supplies. Materials are a vital part of the curricu-
lum; they should be carefully selected to provoke the children’s thinking and
learning (White, Swim, Freeman, & Norton-Smith, 2007). The infants and
toddlers learn by interacting with materials; the construction of knowledge
comes from holding, tasting, shaking, hitting, throwing, taking apart, and lis-
tening to objects. Select open-ended materials, such as wooden unit blocks,
clay, and sand, because they provide a variety of experiences and can be
used by each child to meet his or her needs and ideas (Curtis & Carter, 2015).

Learning Centers
As discussed in Chapter 8, learning centers organize the room and materi-
als and encourage specific use of a particular space. Select materials for
each learning center by matching them with the needs, interests, and abil-
ities of the children. Do so carefully because a poor selection of materials
can actually impede the children’s development. Materials that are too easy
can be boring, while those that are too difficult can be frustrating. Using
currently popular materials or those labeled “educational” may or may not
be appropriate or effective for promoting development for your group of
toddlers or a particular toddler. On the other hand, selecting developmen-
tally appropriate materials for each child can facilitate growth and skill
advancement (see Part 3).

For example, you notice that José seems to attend carefully to the wind
chime outdoors. You want to promote his reaching and grabbing of objects,
so you secure a wind chime in the manipulative area just within his reach. In
Elizabeth’s case, however, you want her to practice transferring objects from
hand to hand, so you put out attractive clear blocks with interesting materials
inside. You anticipate that when she picks one up to examine it, the material
inside will shift locations, encouraging her to switch hands for a better view.

weekly plans approach to
curriculum where experiences
are planned on a weekly basis
based on specific observations
of the children.

You have decided to follow Schwarz and Luckenbill’s
(2012) suggestion to help your materials be more
authentic and accurate by inviting family members
to donate items that reflect their background. You
decide that you would like to have materials for your
dramatic play area. You invite them to share “extra”
items from their homes that would work in the chil-
dren’s kitchen. You suggest that they could consider

“extra” eating utensils, pans for cooking, and materi-
als for reading/writing (e.g., cook books, menus for
favorite restaurants). The response is overwhelming!
How will you decide which materials to put out first,
knowing that your choice will communicate your
values regarding identity and dominant culture?
How might you involve the families in making this
decision?

Family and Community Connections

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Projects
After you know the children’s interests and abilities, you can plan a week’s
worth of engaging curriculum. Instead of selecting themes, you should iden-
tify moments that can be developed into an ongoing project. Many projects
have no clear beginning; they emerge (with much teacher observation
and reflection) slowly over time from the documentation (see Chapter 5) that
the teacher has collected or from her experiences interacting with
the children (Photo 9–8). Small moments encountered by one or two children
can become projects in their own ways (May, Kantor, & Sanderson, 2004).
Following our approach about the daily plans, projects should be individual-
ized for each child or a small group of children.

You can outline experiences and questions to support the project or line
of thinking and integrate the areas of development. In the infant-toddler

project An ongoing
investigation that provokes
infants, toddlers, and teachers
to construct knowledge.

Infant BraIn Development

As mentioned several times throughout this book,
infants and toddlers use everything within their
realm—people, materials, equipment—to develop
their brain. When we view very young children as
competent, constructors of their own development, it
emphasizes the role of adults in opening “a world of
possibilities that lay the groundwork for their develop-
ment” (Lewin-Benham, 2010, p. 1). In her book, Infants
and Toddlers at Work: Using Reggio-Inspired Materials
to Support Brain Development, Lewin-Benham dem-
onstrates how certain materials are essential resources
for infants and toddlers to build neural networks that,
in time, enable them to use higher-order thinking skills
and build complex relationships between and among
concepts. She especially advocates for the use of open-
ended materials “because they allow many approaches;
therefore, they reach children with diverse interests”
(p. 11). These materials also stimulate long engage-
ment, which provides evidence of prolonged attention,
and any experience that facilitates attention also builds
the brain’s capacity to learn.

Lewin-Benham advocates for using more natural
materials, such as fabric, wood scraps, leaves, and clay,
as well as man-made materials such as foil, paper, card-
board tubes, netting, and paint, as tools for engaging
the senses and building the brain. Short- and long-term
memory is constructed, in part, through the adult’s
intentional use of language to mediate meaning-making
during experiences. Infants and toddlers need words to
provide content “because to think, you have to think
about something” (p. 31). As the teacher expounds on
what is happening, asks questions, waits for answers,

and provides powerful descriptive language, she entices
the infant/toddler brain to create pathways for remem-
bering the experience and ideas associated with it. For
example, an infant is manipulating clay with her hands.
The teacher says, “You nipped off a small piece this time
using just your thumb and pointer finger. You are rolling
the clay into a ball using your hand and the table. How
will you get it to stick to the large flat piece? (pause) Oh,
you just pushed down hard on it. Will it work?”

Teachers also promote brain development through
their intentional planning of curricular experiences.
Teachers must carefully observe the children to learn
what they are interested in, what they can do indepen-
dently and with assistance, and what confuses them.
Because feeling disoriented is an essential prerequi-
site for learning, teachers should create experiences
that produce results that are counter to what the child
might expect, given their current level of understand-
ing. “The teacher, like an administrative assistance to
children’s brains, reminds, refocuses, and provokes
them to remember” (p. 148). On the other hand, teach-
ers must balance provocations with repetition. Adults
often have difficulty deferring their work so toddlers
can engage in theirs—namely, repeating an activity.
Teachers need to be intentional about following the
pace set by the children and not just impose their own.

Lewin-Benham concluded her book by stating chil-
dren’s extensive experiences with materials “trigger the
brain functions that from 0 to 3 lay the groundwork for
increasingly complex learning” (p. 158), and a large
vocabulary of materials helps children to “imagine, build
relationships, realize ideas for projects, make construc-
tions and contraptions, and in a word think” (p. 159).

Spotlight on Research

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centers of Reggio Emilia, teachers have constructed a particular
approach to curricular planning referred to as progettazione, or
flexible planning (Rinaldi, 1998). This curriculum is character-
ized by uncertainty, no predetermined outcome, and multiple
directions for the work. Teachers there plan open-ended experi-
ences to facilitate the co-construction of knowledge for children
and themselves. They view the teacher’s role as that of a resource
who does not simply satisfy needs or answer questions but instead
helps children discover their own answers and, more importantly,
helps them learn to ask good questions (Rinaldi, 1998). Therefore,
this “is a dynamic process based on communication that ge nerates
documentation and is regenerated by documentation” (Gandini &
Goldhaber, 2001, p. 128).

As discussed earlier, a key principle of the educational approach
used in Reggio Emilia, Italy, involves the many languages of chil-
dren. Children are provided with multiple opportunities and ave-
nues for expressing their understanding of the world. Thus, children
use their “one hundred languages” to tell adults and peers what
they know. Some avenues for expression include, but are not lim-
ited to, sculpting with clay or wire, painting, building with found
materials, sketching, acting out stories, and dancing with scarves.
These types of curricular experiences serve to cultivate and elabo-
rate on the image of the child as a competent, capable, active learner
who is constantly creating and re-creating theories about the world.

Sample Project
This section provides two examples of projects that can be done with a
group of children. The number and types of projects appropriate for chil-
dren this age are only limited by teachers’ thinking. The first example
extends from the butterfly garden discussed in Chapter 8. The toddlers
were curious about the butterflies that come and go in their garden, ask-
ing many questions about how they fly. You notice that the children have
discovered that they can see the butterfly garden from a window in the
classroom. You decide to extend their interest by placing a small table near
the window. On this table, you place a book about butterflies, two pairs of
binoculars, and two clipboards with blank paper/pencils for drawing and
writing. This proves to be a popular area, with many children visiting it for
10–15 minutes at a time. You decide to post a large piece of easel paper on
the wall and record all of the questions you hear being asked. After review-
ing the list, you decide to provide a new provocation and add a bird feeder
to the garden. The children immediately notice it and wonder who else
might visit the garden. When the yellow finches come to feed, the opportu-
nity to discuss and compare how the butterflies and birds fly arises.

The other example is a project about wheeled vehicles that was created
for a group of older toddlers. Joan and Derek displayed interest when the
wheels fell off a vehicle in the block area. They immediately noticed that
the car didn’t move as easily without the wheels, and after about five min-
utes of “hard” pushing, left it lying on the edge of the carpet.

Picking up on the children’s frustration about the car, Sue decided
to provoke the children’s thinking about wheels further. She placed a

progettazione Italian term that
is loosely translated as “flexible
planning.”

PhOTO 9–8 To plan engaging and
challenging experiences, create
curriculum based on your prior
observations of each individual child.

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full-size car tire (that had been cleaned) in the center of the room and
waited to see what the children would do. Derek ran right to it and began
to climb on it. Sue stood back and watched as other children began to join
in the excitement. After about seven minutes, she sat on the floor near the
children and asked questions such as “What is this?” “What is this for?”
“How does it help a car move?” “Can a wheel help you move?” “What
helps you move?” and recorded their answers. Later that day when the
children were napping, she took a few moments to review her notes. She
began to web what the children knew about the movement of wheels and
people (Figure 9–2).

Sue decided to build on the children’s interest in the wheels and
planned the curricular experiences for the following week. To “kick off”
the project, she planned to take the children on a walking field trip in their
neighborhood to look for wheels. She mapped out the route to take so they
would pass by the used car dealership and the playground with the tire
swings. She prepared a clipboard (e.g., a piece of cardboard cut to 9″ × 12″
with unlined paper held on by a binder clip) with a pencil for each child to
sketch what he or she saw. Later in the week, they were going to work with
clay to represent wheels and possibly cars. She would put books about
transportation in the reading/listening center and in the art center for when
they worked with paint or clay. She planned to add wheels to the construc-
tion area that fit on the unit blocks so children could build their own cars.

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FIGURE 9–2 ◗ An Example of Webbing About Wheels, Constructed by
the Teacher After Conversing with the Children

Tricycle

Roll

Movement

Wheels

Wagon

Cars

Feet

Run

Pedal

Kick

Walk

Push

Food

Sun

Swings

Trucks

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Of course, Sue and her co-teacher, Joni, will document these classroom
events using their digital video camera (which takes still photographs as
well), running records of conversations, and work samples. These data will
be reviewed daily during nap time and on Friday before planning experi-
ences for the next week.

As mentioned in Chapter 8, the educators in Reggio Emilia speak of
the importance of finding the “extraordinary in the ordinary” (L. Gandini,
personal communication, January 26, 2001). In other words, early child-
hood educators should balance novel and familiar objects in the environ-
ment. Exploring flashlights on a dreary, rainy day meaningfully engages
the children in investigating light, dark, and shadows. Wurm (2005)
explains that teachers and children in Reggio engage in four types of over-
lapping projects on a regular basis: intentional, daily life, self-managed,
and environmental projects. The ones most important to infants and tod-
dlers are daily life and environmental, which can both lead into inten-
tional projects. Daily life projects are those events that occur repeatedly
or on an ongoing basis for very young children. Learning to eat and dress
independently and to separate from and rejoin family members, for exam-
ple, are daily life projects. May et al. (2004) provide additional examples
of daily life projects about object permanence and identity development.

Environmental projects are inherently built into the classroom as part
of the learning environment (Wurm, 2005). In other words, these projects
emerge directly from the space and materials in which the children live
and work. Children investigate methods of construction and principles of
physical sciences (e.g., balance, force) due to the availability of different
types of blocks (e.g., large, hollow, unit blocks or cardboard bricks). Return-
ing to our previous example, the children noticed the importance of wheels
to make a vehicle move while pushing cars around on the carpet. When
the teachers provided provocations to extend the children’s thinking, they
moved the work in the direction of an intentional project. Intentional proj-
ects result from the teachers’ careful observation of and attention to the
children’s daily life and environmental projects and the teachers’ planning
and designing of flexible learning experiences (Photo 9–9) (Wurm, 2005).
Good infant-toddler curriculum, then, should provide children with conti-
nuity from home to school and from day to day or even week to week. Chil-
dren need time and support to construct and co-construct their knowledge
of the world (see, e.g., Cross & Swim, 2006).

Teachers must assume the responsibility for reflecting on and evalu-
ating the effectiveness of the curriculum (routine care and planned expe-
riences). Therefore, feedback is a critical part of the curriculum cycle,
whether you are planning for an individual child or a small group of chil-
dren. You should solicit feedback from family members, colleagues, your
own reflections, and the children themselves. Analyzing the documenta-
tion of the children’s involvement, for example, ensures that the children
have a balanced curriculum in the formal, planned times with you. Putting
these data together with those collected during routine care times should
provide evidence of a holistic, nurturing curriculum for each child in
your care. If you find that any child is not receiving well-thought-out care,
determine what changes are needed and make them to improve the quality
of care and education provided for each child.

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PhOTO 9–9 Intentional projects arise from a teacher’s observation and
attention to each child’s daily life and environment.

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9-1 Identify major influences on the curriculum.
Infant-toddler curriculum, or everything that
happens with a child during the time in an early
childhood program, covers routine care times
(e.g., eating and diapering) and planned learning
experiences (e.g., daily plans or projects). Multiple
forces, such as family culture, program philoso-
phy, and child characteristics, influence how the
curriculum is developed.

9-2 Defend why routine care times are important
for facilitating development and learning.
Routine care times (e.g., diapering, feeding, sleep-
ing) should be designed to facilitate development

and learning of each individual child. Specific
guidelines for select routines were provided.

9-3 plan daily or weekly, integrated lesson plans
that are individualized for each child.
Caregivers also plan daily or weekly, integrated
lesson plans. Like routine care times, daily or
weekly plans should be individualized for each
child.

Summary

Before moving on with your reading, make sure that you can answer the following
questions about the material discussed so far.

1. List three reasons for creating daily plans for infants and young toddlers.
2. How can a project be used to involve a child physically? Emotionally?

Socially? Cognitively?

r e a D I N G
C h e C K p O I N t

237chaPtEr 9 Designing the curriculum

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April is a teacher in a birth to 2-year-old, mixed-age
classroom at a local university. Lukaz has been in her
class since he was 6 weeks old, so she is very famil-
iar with him and his family. He is a healthy 21-month-
old child who has outstanding verbal skills. He speaks
in full sentences and possesses an extensive vocab-
ulary. He has a close friend in Tyler who is almost 2.
The two boys are almost inseparable: they both love
to read books, build ramps, and play chase games. She
has noticed lately that these two children seem bored
in the classroom and have disrupted others who were
working on two different occasions. For example, on
Monday, Mackenzie was painting at the easel, and
Lukaz pushed her arm as he walked by. Tyler laughed
when Mackenzie started to cry. As these behaviors are
not typical for either boy, April decided to spend the
next two days watching them closely and gathering
some additional data.

Here are some data April gathered along with her
wonderings.

1. Lukaz is in the book area. He picked up a board
book, opened one page, and tossed it back toward
the basket. He said “These are for babies.” Tyler
responded with, “Yeah, babies. Let’s go.” They left
the area. [April’s wonderings: When did I last add
new books? Are they ready for stories with more
words or more complex artwork?]

2. In the block area, Tyler has built a simple ramp
using unit blocks. Lukaz helped him line up the

plastic people at the end of the ramp. They have
one car and are taking turns pushing it down the
ramp to knock over the people. [April’s wonder-
ings: What else could challenge them with ramps?
What questions should I ask? Should I be con-
cerned about running over people—doesn’t seem
very caring?]

3. Mackenzie, Lukaz, and Tyler are sitting at the art
table working with clay. Lukaz is making a car. He
is challenged by the wheels not rolling. His voice
is getting louder as he rolls a wheel between his
palms. Mackenzie tells him to “Stop.” He reaches
over and pounds on her creation. She begins to cry.

a. Before addressing the specifics of the case,
think about planning curriculum in general.
What must be accomplished before an individ-
ualized curriculum can be developed for any
child? Why?

b. Do you think that April’s initial conclusion that
Lukaz and Tyler are bored is accurate? Why or
why not? Use the data she gathered to help pro-
vide evidence for your conclusion.

c. What curricular experiences would you plan to
challenge Lukaz and Tyler? How would these
experiences build on the boys’ strengths? Pro-
vide examples of daily plans as well as plans for
an ongoing project.

Challenging Lukaz and TylerC a S e S t u D Y

Lesson Plan
title: Comforting Jack
Child Observation:

Jack, 17 months, started in the program two weeks ago;
he attends four full days a week. He fell asleep in his pri-
mary caregiver’s arms but startled awake when she put
him in his crib. He cried hard for the next 18 minutes.

Teacher Interpretation:

This fits the patterns of other days; Jack has never
slept more than 30 minutes at a time. He doesn’t seem
to have a favorite item to use at nap time; a new blan-
ket is brought to the program each day. I have been in
constant communication with his grandmother since

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238 Part 2 Establishing a Positive Learning Environment

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Copyright 2017 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Due to electronic rights, some third party content may be suppressed from the eBook and/or eChapter(s).
Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

he joined our program. She told me that Jack moved in
with her and her husband when her son, Jack’s father,
was deployed as part of the National Guard. Her son is
expected to be away for 12 months.

Child’s Developmental Goal:

To facilitate the development of trust

To find comfort in a new situation

Materials: Item that Jack finds comforting at home;
Dad’s favorite scent (e.g., cologne or body spray)

Preparation: Invite Jack’s grandparents to determine
an item that he finds comfort in, such as a blanket
or stuffed animal. Have them spray a bit of his Dad’s
cologne or body spray on the item before bringing it
to the program.

Learning Environment:

1. When Jack is ready for his nap, prepare his bottle
and retrieve the item (i.e., blanket) provided by his
grandparents.

2. Draw his attention to the blanket by using descrip-
tive language. To illustrate, you could say:

“Your grandmother thought you would like this
special blanket. It smells good, like your Daddy.
Would you like to smell it?

3. Invite Jack to touch and cuddle with the blanket, if
he hasn’t already.

4. While feeding Jack his bottle, talk with him about
how scary it is to be in a new program but how you
want to help him. Say something such as:
a. It is scary to be here. You miss your dad, grand-

mother, and grandfather. Your grandmother will
be back to pick you up later. I’ll stay with you
until she comes for you.

b. New faces are scary. You don’t know me well
yet. I am here to help you. I feed you, keep you
clean, and help you find toys to play with.

5. Explain that you will rock and hold him until his
bottle is finished. Then, tell him that you will put
him in his crib with his special blanket.

6. When you put him in the crib, make sure that his
blanket is close by. Place him on his back and stay
nearby to continue comforting him. Pat his belly or
gently rub his arm if that seems to help him.

Guidance Consideration:

If Jack becomes overly upset when placed in his crib,
pick him up and comfort him. As soon as possible,
return him to his crib.

Variations:

Use the scented blanket throughout the day to provide
comfort when Jack becomes upset.

Additional Resources
Derman-Sparks, L., & Ramsey, P. G., with Edwards, J. O.

(2011). What if all the kids are white: Anti-bias mul-
ticultural education with young children and fami-
lies (2nd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.

Helm, J. H. (2014). Becoming young thinkers: Deep
project work in the classroom. New York: Teachers
College Press.

Lickey, D. C., & Powers, D. J. (2011). Starting with
their strengths: Using the project approach in early
childhood special education. New York: Teachers
College Press.

Marotz, L. R. (2015). Health, safety and nutrition for
the young child (9th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage
Learning.

de Melendez, W. R., & Beck, V. O. (2013). Teaching
young children in multicultural classrooms: Issues,
concepts, and strategies (4th ed.). Belmont,
CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Topal, C. W., & Gandini, L. (1999). Beautiful stuff!
Learning with found materials. Worcester,
MA: Davis Publications.

Professional Resource Download

239chapter 9 Designing the curriculum

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Copyright 2017 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Due to electronic rights, some third party content may be suppressed from the eBook and/or eChapter(s).
Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.

Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

10-1 Describe early intervention.

10-2 Discriminate between different types
of intervention.

10-3 Summarize the notion of speci