In Planning with a Purpose, a cohort-based learning community, we have spent our first couple of sessions together discussing the purpose and process of lesson planning. As a result of these conversations with birth-to-three providers, we as a project want to share with you some planning-related issues that have come to light.
When it comes to planning for infants and toddlers, participants identified the frustration of finding realistic and developmentally appropriate ideas to use in their plans. We talked about utilizing websites and apps such as Pinterest, yet participants felt discouraged at the amount of time they spent searching for activities on these apps only to find average to poor quality results. This brought us to the important topic of curriculum and the distinctions in what curriculum looks like for infants, toddlers and older children.
When we think about a curriculum for infants and toddlers, it is important to remember that the focus is on what they experience from moment to moment and how they learn and develop from those experiences. For infants and toddlers, a large portion of what they learn comes from the interactions they have with their caregivers and peers and how they engage in play that shapes their brain development. Studies have shown that play enhances creativity and memory as well as language and communication development from infancy (Holmes & Romeo, 2013; Newland, et al., 2001). Through observations, we learn a child’s interests, the skills that they have already mastered and the new skills that are emerging.
Birth-to-three providers can use the information they gain from these observations along with the North Carolina Foundations for Early Learning and Development resource to determine which developmental indicator currently applies to each child and use their unique interests to extend their engagement in activities. When putting this down on paper, it may feel a little strange in the beginning as we adjust to a new way of creating our activity plans. The reward lies in following the child’s lead and giving them plenty of opportunities to practice new skills and reach developmental milestones while also offering each child their very own responsive and individualized curriculum.
Holmes R.M., Romeo L. November 2013. Gender, play, language, and creativity in preschoolers. Early Child Development and Care, 1531-1543. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.733381
Newland L.A., Roggman L.A., Boyce L.K. January 2001. The development of social toy play and language in infancy. Infant Behavior and Development, 1-25. doi:10.1016/s0163-6383(01)00067-4