In The Toddler Classroom

Finding my way back. I am ready to join the conversation in my reflections and questions on teaching and learning once again. I’m sure I will have moments of deep sadness, missing my husband, but knowing with all my heart that he continues to be proud of any road I choose to travel. That being said, I spent a day subbing in toddlers!

Its been many, many years since I worked with such young children but I said yes to subbing without any hesitation. I wanted to see what was happening in the toddler classroom. I wanted to interact with them and learn from them and their teachers. And I was not disappointed! At this time of year the children secure in their relationships with teachers, friends and the environment, quickly said good bye to their caregiver (parent, grandparent or nanny). The program starts in the outdoor environment which was so appealing that I just watched and watched until a little boy asked if I would read him a book. He sat down and said, “Here I have a space for you.” We read a few books before he went off to play. There were blocks, a climbing structure, dolls, cribs, water and sand. The sensory table had cinnamon fragrant tactile “stuff” and they pulled me over to feel and smell it. Before it was time to go inside the toddlers cleaned up, wiped the sand off their feet and put socks and shoes on. Inside they sat in a circle, did some finger plays with a story board and were introduced to the next step in making their Mother’s Day gift. The snack table was set as they helped themselves, proud of their independence in pouring the water and cleaning up. More choices available from kinetic sand to dramatic play, books, blocks, and interlocking tiles. All to soon (for me and them as well) the day was over. This morning had guest readers: a toddler’s grandparents came in to read a book. The toddlers loved it and laughed gleefully at the appropriate parts. The grandparents were delighted with the enthusiastic response from the toddlers. In this program they have an overlap “bridge”  between the morning and afternoon programs. Some children leave at 11am and some stay till 12:15. The afternoon children can come either at 11 and eat lunch with the morning children or come at 12:30 when the rest of the morning children leave and the afternoon toddlers start. On the day I subbed the afternoon program was similar to the morning. The children in the afternoon were a little older and it was fascinating to once again watch and observe how they interacted with each other, the teachers and the environment. In both sessions I listened to the toddlers’ language, observed social give and take in navigating play situations, large and small motor skills and questions about every thing. The rollypollies in the garden were an opportipunity for authentic scientific discourse!

There are three adults and fifteen toddlers in this program and I’m sure like any other program it has evolved over the years to meet the needs of the children and the institution’s philosophy and mission statement. As I look back at my experience with the toddler program when I started in 1976, I am in awe of what still holds true today: a time and space to explore in an environment that they trust and trusts them, with teachers that  stand by to help pave the way and learn from them.

Have you had an opportunity to spend time in a toddler program? How is it similar or different from the one I describe?

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