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October 23, 2013

Purposeful and Intentional Infant & Toddler Care

Remember that the “‘quality of learning rarely exceeds the quality of teaching’ (Epstein, The Intentional Teacher, 2007) and that every child has a right to a quality learning experience.” So ask yourself throughout your day, “Are you a quality caregiver? Do you provide purposeful care?”

It is essential, as an intentional caregiver, to focus on children’s needs, and provide care with specific goals or outcomes in mind to foster development and learning. To be successful with this, an intentional caregiver should provide a balance of classroom experiences so that children and teachers take turns leading activities. The meaningful moments where intention and purpose take place are known as “windows of opportunity.” These are times where teachers should consciously take advantage of teachable moments. One of the first steps in assuring that you understand how to take advantage of this is to take a look at all of your toys and decide which learning domain they fall into. By doing this, it will allow you to understand which skills you are working on with your children. A list of general ideas is as follows:

Picture 1

Examples of ways in which intentional/purposeful caregiving looks and sounds:

Teacher: “Hi Audrey, I will be there to get you in just one minute (who stirs from her nap). I am just putting Evan down (gives him a hug).” “Sleep well, Evan,” as she tucks him in. (Skill: Trust and attachment)

Teacher: (Smiles as she picks up Audrey from her crib) “You had a long nap! (Skill: Trust & attachment). I think you are ready to play for a while.” (sings gently to Audrey as the transitions her) (Skill: Early sounds)

Teacher: “Let’s go get you a dry diaper first. Did you have a good nap?” (waits for a break to listen for a response and then participates) “Listen to you talk! Are you telling me about your dreams?” (Skill: Vocabulary)

Teacher: (Audrey hears laughter from across the room and turns her head in the direction of the interesting sounds). “You hear Gabby laughing?” (Skill: Cause & effect)

Teacher: After the diaper change, the teacher plays a couple round of Pat-A-Cake with Audrey (Skill: Motor)

Teacher: (Teacher hands Audrey a drumstick like the other children playing) “Let’s get you a drumstick Audrey so you can play with Gabby and Madison too!” (Audrey watches and then tries tapping it too). “Listen to the sounds you are making with your drum! Would you like to try another drumstick to hear a different noise?” (hands her another). “Ooo, the bigger the drumstick, the louder the noise!” (Skill: cause & effect)

As adults, we pass through everyday routines, we sometimes forget to pay attention to the little things which are so important for our little ones. Some suggestions to not lose sight of such important caregiving techniques, are to think of the desired outcomes you want as you plan and move through your daily routines. Be sure to strengthen your knowledge of the research that supports early development. And, remember that teaching is as much about following, as it is about leading.

Picture 3


Excerpts from:

(Schiller, Pam, “More Purposeful and Intentional Infant and Toddler Care,” Child Care Exchange, November 2007)

(Gryphon House, The Complete Resource Book for Infants)

(Gryphon House, The Complete Resource Book for Toddlers and Twos)