Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Approaches to Infant and Toddler Programs

The good care approach emphasizes providing for development and personal growth during the course of caring for infants and toddlers. This responsive care approach focuses on overall developmental growth tied to the principles of affectionate, protective, responsive care.

The needs approach centers on the needs of developing infants and toddlers as a foundation for planning and implementation. The list of needs varies but usually includes a safe environment, adequate nutrition, frequent adult contact that is responsive, positive emotional climate, respect for individual differences, optimal need gratification, a moderate pace of progress from dependence to independence, sensory and exploratory experiences in the context of appropriate materials and peer contact.

Language, positive social-emotional input and task involvement of staff is the emphasis in the adult roles approach. In this approach the development of the adult, teacher or caregiver is directly tied to the quality of a child’s experience in the program.

The play-learning approach is an essential feature of the traditional interactive preschool program in which the adult serves as planner and facilitator and the child engages in play unaware of the learning that is taking place.

Maria Montessori’s program is probably the best example of the settings approach which highlights the role of objects and physical arrangements in assuring that infants and toddlers have appropriate, developmentally valuable experiences in which adults are encouraged to participate.

The developmental tasks approach is a systematic set of sequential activities designed to move a child from one developmental milestone to the next. Early childhood intervention and special education Individualized Educational Plans are normally based in this orientation to infant and toddler care.

The management of infant and toddler programs requires the establishment of the policies and procedures, forms and record-keeping systems, and the design of setting and scheduling that is indicative of the administrative approach.

Clarifying issues, building understanding and making good decisions are hallmarks of the issues approach to infant and toddler care. This approach focuses on early intervention, mother-infant interaction, parent relations, and early learning theory.

In the group program for infants and toddlers the parent-home approach is useful primarily in the development of the caregivers’ and teachers’ knowledge and skills with babies since this approach emphasizes both parent and child as learners.

In order to assure that the baby receives appropriate programming, the assessment-curriculum approach emphasizes using a system of diagnosis, curriculum and assessment.

The parent education approach highlights programming aimed at improving the parent-child relationship, the home environment, and the child’s development.

The medical-health approach centers on early identification of developmental delays, provision of preventive information, and treatment of early problems.

Specific skill training is an approach used especially in early intervention programs to provide physical therapy and skill-building. An excellent example of this approach can be found clearly delineated in Bricker (1993) and Cripe, Slentz, and Bricker (1993).

The symbolic languages approach of Reggio Emilia involves doing, reflecting and redoing. It looks for depth through observation and re-observation, representation and re-representation. (Gandini, Forman and Edwards, 1993; Edwards, Shallcross, and Maloney, 1991)

Cataldo (1983) adds to these the interpersonal-environmental approach which emphasizes that adults’ interactions, stimulation, mediation, planning, and follow-up shape much of the learning and personal growth of children. It also highlights the role of the environment of organized space and procedures, toys and materials, activities, and peer experiences in facilitating learning and development.

The highest quality program for young children must incorporate all of these approaches.

Bricker, D. ed. (1993). AEPS curriculum for birth to three years. Volume1. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
Cataldo, C. Z. (1983). Infant and toddler programs: a guide to very early childhood education. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Cripe, J., Slentz, K, and Bricker, D., ed. (1993) AEPS curriculum for birth to three years. Volume 2. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
Edwards, C. P., Shallcross, D. J. and Maloney, J. Enhancing creativity in a graduate class on creativity: entering the time and space of the young child. The Journal of Creative Behavior 25(4) 304-10.
Gandini, F. L., Forman, G. and Edwards, C. (1993). The hundred languages of children: the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

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