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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Toddler Times

I personally love toddlers......I love watching them change from babies into toddlers and yet it seems such a fleeting time .... so soon they are Big Kids and want nothing to do with the toddler or baby rooms......but toddlers, I think, sometime get a bad reputation (ok... I know because I was the parent of two toddlers once in the dim distant past and may have contributed to this stereotype myself) and I wanted to find out what the Educators who choose to spend  many hours a day, 5 days a week with this age group thought about that... and they answered with wisdom and insight and a good dose of humour!


Question 1 - What is it that you love about working with Toddlers?

I love working with Toddlers because every day is a new experience. Young children are so curious and joyful, they bring smiles, laughter and a sense of wonder with them each day.

What I love about working with toddlers is even though they are so little they are so capable. They are growing right in front of your eyes – physically and mentally at the same time. They are exposed to new things every day and they learn something new every day. This is also the stage where they first start to use simple sentences so they are able to verbally communicate.

Toddlers are energetic, passionate, and prepared to fiercely defend their right to be heard and grow. They want to know things; they want to learn. And despite their tendency towards egocentrism, they are incredibly compassionate, sympathetic and empathetic.

I love experiencing the uniqueness of each child.  I love the laughter of children.  It is amazing to work with toddlers and to watch them grow and learn.  The toddlers’ imagination and wonder about this world is amazing.

Their development sparks my days when I work with them. It seems that I witness their progressive growth and development in physical, speech and language, cognition, social, self-help, and emotion, day by day. How lucky am I!

Gosh, that’s a good question! You know it’s funny, while I was in school for ECE, I didn’t see myself working with toddlers at all. I saw myself at a preschool, working six hour days with three and four year olds. Now almost 5 1/2 years later, here I am at a child care centre, working eight hour days, with 2 year olds and… I don’t think I would have it any other way.   I think what I love most about working with Toddlers is the time of discovery and playfulness that happens all rolled into one. Of course discoveries happen at any age, but all discoveries at any age are still different. I love that at this age, the children really begin to discover who they are and that we get to be a part of that. I love their zeal, their passion, their ideas, their theories, their sense of humour, the way they don’t hold grudges, the way they nestle into me for a cuddle, the way they their eyes light up when we sing together, I just enjoy…them.

Toddler is my favorite program and age to work with. I love toddlers, because they are always being creative and they have an enormous amount of curiosity for their environment. I love how they share their life experiences and feelings with me. There are so many things that I learn from them, because the world they see is so much simpler than our world and it’s very fascinating to learn how they see things. In general toddlers make me feel inspired to work with children even more.

I love seeing them grow and developing into their own unique personalities gradually every day. Each individual child has their own character and each of their very own unique character make them who they are. As each day that they are in our toddler program they are developing in different stages of their growth. I enjoy being their rock and supporting them by their side as they grow and learn. I love witnessing their big and small steps or leaps in their development.  I really treasure the moments when they learn something new and how proud they get. There is such a twinkle in a young child's eyes when they are curious and learning and exploring with all their senses, And of course I love all the hugs and smiles!!!

Question 2:  Do the " Terrible Twos" deserve their bad reputation? 

I think the "terrible twos" is such a negative way to describe children who are trying to make sense of their place in the world. True, it can be frustrating and exhausting as they work through their days, but with patience, understanding, and many deep breaths, it's easy to slow my own pace down and watch with wonder as the children learn boundaries. A high expectation of their abilities helps them to focus and learn the foundations for their future in our society.

No. We all know that they can “push your buttons to the edge” but they are toddlers – 2 year old children. We need to adjust our expectations to their developmental level and they won’t be terrible but terrific. There is a reason for each behaviour we just need to find these reasons

I believe it was a group of very tired adults unprepared for the shift from babyhood to super-active child who coined the moniker 'Terrible Twos'. The shift from dependence to independence happens quickly and most adults are not prepared to let go and ride the vortex of energy toddlers create.

No, because people strive for freedom and toddlers do the same, too.  They all want to think that they are old enough to act like an adult.  They explore the world that they are in and they test the boundaries

No. Toddlers do not deserve "that" bad reputation because of their lack of speech and language skills.  People who are in any age could be assumed difficult anyhow.

Well…you know…I think everyone can have a preconceived notion about a person and for us to label toddlers as having a phase where they’re considered “terrible” wouldn’t be fair. At this stage in their lives, so much awareness is developing. Awareness of their environment, of their emotions, of the people in their lives, of changes that occur, so much is going on! It can be difficult to cope
with all of these new discoveries for a little person. So I think it’s fair to say that just like us, they have their good days and their bad days. If we’re there for them to pick up the pieces on a bad day, or join in on their fun and games on a good day, it makes all the difference.

I don’t think that the “Terrible Twos” is true!  Children during this age have not completely formed and developed their language and self- regulations. They need more time to express their needs and feelings when they are lacking the ability to speak and be understood. So I think that it is perfectly normal for them to feel frustrated when their thoughts aren’t understood.

To be honest sometimes toddlers can give us very difficult times with their behaviours.  But as I try to understand them and be in their shoes. I have observed that they are not trying to give as a hard time. They are at a phase where they are challenging their own inner self. They are getting older and they are knowing a lot more around them and trying to understand the world around them. They are trying to make their own choices without us telling what they should do. They are trying different ways to be independent and possibly make the right choices. They want to be powerful .They want to feel in control of their own body and decisions. I believe that around the toddler age they are just struggling with power. I don’t think the toddlers deserve the “Terrible Twos” reputation. They are just at the age where they’re battling with power. I believe through the processes of power struggles, they are actually slowly building up their own character.

Question 3.  If you had 5 minutes with a Toddler's parents what would you like them to know?

I would invite the parents of Toddlers to Slow Down, be patient and calm in the most frustrating situations, and wait at least 10 seconds before expecting a response as their children process and think about the information they are receiving or requests from the adults in their lives.

Enjoy the time you spend with your toddler. They are toddlers for a very short time and they will grow up very quickly. They need time to absorb, so slow down, relax, sit down with your child, read to your child, play with your child, observe what he/she is doing and respect them all the time. I don’t know who wrote this quote but I think it’s true: “Your child will follow your example, not your advice” so be a superhero for your child, he/she deserves it.

Trust your toddler! They know themselves very well.

Toddlers need lots of time and space in which to move their bodies in order to learn how they function, develop coordination, and grow healthy and strong. They need a variety of challenging materials to learn how best to decode the basics of reading, math, science, and problem solving.  (Electronic entertainments serve no value in teaching these)  And they need quiet time with you to learn about you, to get to understand your expectations and values, and to know the important position they hold within the family unit.

Slow down, observe and listen, without judgment or agenda, to what your child is trying to tell you. They need the security of your unconditional love, boundaries that are fair and deal primarily with health and safety issues, as well as your faith in their blossoming physical and intellectual abilities. Invite your child to help you with everything as often as possible. Life skills are learned best through practice.

I think I would rather have a toddler’s parents trade places with us for a day or even 5 minutes. Sometimes life experiences are easier to understand if one goes through them themselves. If parents experienced a day in our shoes, I think there would be a greater sense of understanding about what we do. Sometimes it can be difficult for families to grasp that we are caring for 12 children a day, all at the same time. We face many challenges throughout each day but nonetheless we always try our very best to accommodate each child and each family to make sure everyone is happy and thriving.

I would like to let the parents that it’s okay to let the children to get wet.  Children at this stage are learning by their five senses. Water play and sensory play are important to the children. The reason why we put out the water play because we think that water play is an unique activity for children because it’s always available, open-ended, and provides opportunities for extended learning. Water play gives opportunities for children to understand why and how things happen. It encourages the children’s to develop their eye/hand coordination through pouring, squeezing, stirring, painting, scrubbing, and squirting. Water play can help children to develop the attention spend by pouring. pounding, and swooshing.  The children develops social skills by learning how to share the materials, playing cooperatively and having space for each other.  Water encourages children to use their imagination and problem solving.  There are a lot of benefits for setting up water play so it’s okay for children to get wet and messy.

I would like them to know the importance of outdoor play for children. Outdoor play is very critical for children. When children play outside it promotes curiosity, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development. Children need the opportunities to explore, experiment, manipulate discover, practice, push their limits, yell, sing, and create through outdoor environment. Outdoor play also enables young children to learn lots and lots and lots of things about the world. How does ice feel and sound? Can sticks stand up in sand? How do plants grow? How does mud feel? How do I make my tricycle go faster? What does a strawberry smell and taste like? Do butterflies have to learn to fly? Much of what a child learns outside can be learned in a variety of other ways, but learning it outside is particularly effective and certainly more fun! They can also learn about their environment and the beauty of nature

Question 4.  Is there anything else you'd like to share about your work with Toddlers?

I feel very blessed that, for me, coming to work every day is an adventure. Over the years I have spent working with Toddlers, I have come to realize what a special and fleeting time I have with them. So many changes happen in this time of their lives, and it is wonderful to be able to observe their changes  as well as help them learn and grow.

They are really amazing. Give your child an opportunity to explore the world around them through their senses because they learn through their senses. You will see how happy they will be playing in the puddles, exploring the paint, water, soil, playdough, bubbles etc. They need this experience.

Because Toddlers want only to be the best they can be, they inspire me to learn more, be more, do more. As I see it, this can only make me a better me for all of us.

I absolutely LOVE what I do. Yes, it’s exhausting at times and yes, it tests my patience but I have the best time with these little people. They encourage me to be as care-free and spirited as they are. So, although there’s times I may leave work tired, stressed or even defeated, I always look forward to what each new day brings. Toddlers are full of surprises…but you know what? I LOVE surprises!

I enjoy coming in every morning to see the children's smiling faces, to hear the laughter, and to see their joy of accomplishment. It is so rewarding to see the children "blossom" into unique little people and watch their skills develop everyday. They make my days very interesting. Everyday is a memory for me!