The Waddler & Toddler Program
The curriculum is based on providing each child with a large variety of activities and experiences, which encourage growth and learning. According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, children construct knowledge from their actions in the environment. Children also learn some things such as names through social transmission.
For this reason our curriculum focuses on providing children with an environment that encourages their explorations and involvement in activities that help them to construct knowledge. In addition, children will be exposed to a language-rich environment that will help to facilitate their developing language skills and encourage social interactions. The following is a listing of specific curriculum areas and how they relate to the developing child’s growth needs.
Free play is a period of time when a child chooses from a wide variety of games, toys, puzzles or gross motor activities. Children gain a new found sense of independence through mobility, and this freedom of choice allows them to further exercise this skill. Games, toys and puzzles are specifically selected to meet the child’s development needs.
Some of the free play (child's choice) activities include:
This area can include small building blocks, small vehicles, pegboard games, stringing beads, and so forth. These activities encourage the child’s development of problem solving techniques and fine motor skills, along with knowledge about how objects relate to each other.
Water Table / Dry Pour Table:
Allows a child to experience a large variety of textures such as water, sand, dirt, rice, oatmeal, beans and so forth. Objects such as cylinders, measuring cups, bowls, and funnels re placed on the table to enable children to experiment with pouring, dumping and scooping. This encourages fine motor skill development along with increasing their knowledge about various textures and materials and the characteristics of these objects.
Dramatic Play Area:
For some classrooms, this area resembles a house with a kitchen and bedroom. It has familiar household items that children can use to imitate activities they see in their own house. This encourages children to practice familiar activities such as cooking, sweeping and talking on the telephone. This is important for their social, emotional and physical development. Because children during their early ages participate in parallel play, most social interactions are between the adult and the child. Adults can use this time effectively to facilitate language about what the child is doing. This helps the child to put words to actions and therefore encourage language and social development.
This area is established in a quiet corner of the room. Books are available for children to look at and to manipulate, and some are made of sturdy cardboard that enable the child to turn the pages. Many contain simple story lines that adults can read to children. Books are a great language facilitator and a wonderful way to introduce children to the joy that can be found through reading.
Play Dough, Silly Putty, Clay:
These materials are available for children to roll, squeeze, pat, pound and mold. Play Dough encourages fine motor strength and manipulation, and also encourages the development of knowledge about another type of texture and material. This is another area where language should be used to describe actions, textures and characteristics.
Gross Motor Area / Large Muscle Area:
Children need to practice new found developing skills and large muscles areas are an essential part of their program. This area provides children with opportunities to climb, jump, crawl, run, walk, hop and slide, all of which aid in mastery over gross motor skills.
Crayons are always available to encourage children to develop fine motor skills necessary for the eventual development of writing skills. In addition, crayons provide an open-ended activity that fosters expressions of creativity. Pencils, pens, markers, stampers and stamp pads may also be available.
Musical instruments, CD’s and tape players, may be available for manipulation and for entertainment of children. Music helps children to begin to develop a sense of rhythm through dancing, swaying and clapping. However, music can also become a part of every activity, and caregivers are encouraged to sing to children many times during the day.
Mirrors and Photographs:
Mirrors are wonderful objects children use to learn about themselves. This helps to encourage self-identity and increase self-esteem. Pictures of each child are arranges low on classroom walls and further help children to identify self and others.
In the art area our goal is to foster creativity. The desire for self-expression gives children the incentive to use tools, which increase small motor skills and refine eye-hand coordination. Through experimentation children make discoveries about cause and effect as well as becoming familiar with colors, shapes and textures.
Art materials are visible and accessible throughout the day. Children are free to choose from material such as paint, clay, play dough, markers, crayons, glue, glitter, yarn, fabric and any others treasures they may want to incorporate in their work. Each art media can be used in a variety of ways. Using paint as a media one could choose to create a water color, finger paint, work at the easel or for the more daring, spatter paint from a table top with turkey basters.
Children are exposed to a wide range of experiences, which in turn inspire the creative process. For example, a visit to the beach may give a child incentive to make a collage of shells. Autumn leaves may be collected to arrange and melt onto wax paper. Children take pride in their accomplishments and express their uniqueness through their work.
Art activities are open ended. Emphasis is placed on the process rather than product. Teachers to not make artwork for the children; rather they take measures to help the children solve the problem and use tools and materials to their satisfaction.
Special activities may include cooking experiences in which the child can actively participate. Cooking exercises include simple recipes that enable children to observe cause and affect relationships and to see how things are made. These special activities provide children with an additional learning experience through manipulation of materials. It further can be used, again, as an excellent language facilitator in talking to the children about what they are doing and the effects of their actions on the material they are using.
Outdoor play allows the children more opportunities for freedom of choice. Children can choose from among a wide variety of items such as climbers, sandbox, bikes, balls, etc. In addition, warm weather provides opportunity to bring many other outdoor activities such as art or water table play. Outdoor activities enable children to further develop their gross motor skills and give them the benefit of a change of scenery periodically throughout the day.
Rest time is an essential part of a child’s day. This gives them the opportunity to rest after a busy morning and refreshes them for the afternoon’s activities. Many times children don’t know when they need to rest; therefore it is imperative to schedule a quiet time during the busy day to allow them the advantage of a time to sleep. Children who are unable to sleep will be given quiet toys to play with while lying on their cots; and a soothing, comforting staff person to rub their backs and encourage them to sleep.
Mealtimes are a great time for all children to practice their independence in self-help skills. Toddlers love to feed themselves and therefore are provided with bite size portions that can be easily manipulated with fingers or a spoon. Toddlers are encouraged to use a spoon but fingers are also acceptable. Older children are encouraged to set a table, use appropriate utensils and are encouraged to serve themselves family style meals. Mealtimes provide opportunities for social interactions between caregiver and child and therefore should be rich with language about morning events and types of food being eaten. Additionally, the staff is trained to supervise hand washing and disinfection procedures.
Arrival and departure is the time for exchanges of information between the caregiver and the parent concerning the child’s experiences at home and daily activities at the Center. It also provides the child with a rich learning experience regarding social interactions through greetings and farewells. This communication is done through our daily reports.
Our goals for toddlers include those of infants, plus:
· Awareness of object permanence
· Investigate cause and effect (causality)
· Copies behaviors of others(imitation and play)
· Uses words to identify objects
· Identifies familiar pictures / objects
· Develop fine motor skills
· Increase muscular control
· Helps dress and undress self
· Expand social relationships
· Begins to understand the concepts of quantity, number, space, and time
· Has begun or completed toilet training