This semester I’m teaching one of my favorite courses, Infants and Toddlers. I enjoy this course in part because this age group fascinates me, the amount of learning that occurs in the first three years is incredible, and also because of how important the caregiver’s role is with this age group. I think that all too often in the field of early childhood education the focus is on the preschool/kindergarten age group, and although that is certainly important, in my experience it sometimes leaves ECEs feeling unprepared to work with infants and/or toddlers. Although we have a limited amount of time in this course, I hope that over the next few months, I will be able help my students to develop their own rich images of infants and toddlers, with an understanding of how capable and unique they are.
One of the ways that we use to get the students to start thinking about what they already know about infants and toddlers is to literally have them draw an image of an infant or a toddler. At the end of the course, I think that I will have them go back to these images and reflect on how their image of the young child has changed through our discussions. This also has me thinking about my own image of the child, be it infant, toddler or preschooler. As I have tried to consider how I can be more intentional in my practice I have to go back to my image of the child. Am I acting in a way that reflects my image of the child? If I believe that children are capable of problem solving, do I allow them opportunities to do so? I don’t believe in the necessity of adult enforced sharing, however I have intervened in squabbles over toys from time to time. I often struggle with my desire to pick up a crying baby, without first addressing the reason that the infant is communicating. As I strive towards being more intentional in my interactions with young children, I am reminded that I need to keep my image of the child at the forefront of my mind. I need to allow my beliefs about how children learn to dictate my actions, rather than the stress of the moment or trying to “fit in” to my surroundings.
That’s what I love about teaching, how it helps me to keep reflecting and to keep learning.
Photo by mikebaird on Flickr