The early years of life are when children acquire a sense of trust, safety, autonomy and independence. The sense of security and safety that comes from the family is echoed in the warm, responsive, predictable care teachers provide throughout the day. Teachers are loving as they feed, diaper, and comfort children. They communicate with children at eye level, join in laughter and conversations, and extend language as they respond to children’s vocalizations or queries. Teachers also narrate what is happening throughout the day to help children understand how the world works around them. They are responsive to children’s signals of distress and structure children’s days with calm in mind. Autonomy and independence increase as more opportunities for independence and self-exploration are encouraged.
We partner with families by learning about family care routines and practices so that young children feel safe and secure in our care. Teachers observe how families interact with their infants so that they can imitate a parent’s responses in ways that are warm and predictable to the child. We welcome each family’s culture and diversity by encouraging families to bring in such items as pictures, books and other materials that are familiar to each child.
Relationships and moments of one-to-one or small group care and learning are at the center of healthy development, caring, nurturing, and learning. Children connect with people through conversations and respond to their surroundings through active play. A rich, built-in learning environment allows a child to touch, talk, listen, and play and allows teachers relaxed time to nurture, feed, diaper, dress, or ease a child into or out of sleep.
The fundamental premise at Williams College Children’s Center for curriculum is that infants and toddlers are active learners who learn best through investigating the rich and carefully planned environment that teachers provide. Children are recognized as scientists and builders, as gymnasts and artisans who need active experiences with the world of people and things. Teachers offer materials and opportunities for children to create and learn and are there to stimulate and respond to the children’s language, questions, and curiosity. Staff support and encourage the children. They offer children new challenges while helping them to build autonomy, confidence, and self-discipline to develop increasingly more sophisticated skills, relationships and knowledge.