While the job of a one and a two-year-old is to solidify their sense of independence, they still need a great deal of nurturing and comfort. Our teachers offer a thoughtful balance of freedom and support. Toddlers are still egocentric and unable to fully understand the feelings of others; the staff models social skills and lovingly guides their behavior. Conscious Discipline™ is the foundation for these efforts, and you'll often hear teachers say to children, "it's my job to keep you safe, and it's your job to help!"
Besides mastering emotions and self-help skills like toilet learning and feeding, toddlers are keen to master their environment. Because knowing what comes next is linked to security and control, toddlers thrive on a daily schedule of care routines and discovery learning. This consistency creates a framework for the predictability.
One major category of time is Discovery Learning, when toddlers explore a wide variety of materials, toys, and activities. They also begin to play and cooperate in small groups. Play areas of the classroom include art, sensory, building blocks, books, manipulatives, pretend housekeeping, early science and math, and large muscle activity. Areas are changed and refreshed often. One day you may find soap, water, squirt bottles, and floating ducks on the sensory table; the next day, you may find sand, dirt, leaves, shovels, and hidden animals. In the art area, the toddlers paint with all sorts of items, such as potato mashers, feathers, fly swatters, cars, and more! They also create with markers, chalk, and tape, and they even get to handle scissors. Our toddlers get messy, so play clothes are required.
Much like "Responsive Caregiving" in the infant nursery, the toddler teachers take their lead from the children. Lesson plans are developed with their interests and abilities in mind. We call this an "Emergent Curriculum." Teachers take the lead of the children to facilitate play. The children are purposely learning all day long in a fun and playful environment.
You will always find a whirlwind of activity in the toddler room! Keeping toddlers busy and supporting their ever-growing need for independence is challenging but so rewarding.