Our work with infant and toddlers centers on relationships – the closer and happier our relationships with the children are, the more the children grow and the less stress everyone feels. To strengthen your interactions and add a lot to the relationships you have with children, check out the simple tips below!
- Acknowledge children’s emotions.
Whether a child feels happy, sad or something in between, one simple thing to do is verbally respond to the emotions of children. Saying things like “Wow! That made you happy” or “Ouch! You are sad because that hurt” helps children understand that you care about their feelings. Additionally, children learn a lot more about emotions when you use language like this rather than saying “You’re ok.” Want to know more about nurturing children’s emotional skills? Discover more great tips for teachers and parents here!
- Ask open-ended questions throughout the day.
When you chat with the children in your care, do most questions you ask have simple yes or no or right or wrong answers? While some simple questions are useful, more open-ended questions with no set answers can extend children’s learning and thinking skills. Try working some questions like “what do you think,” “why did that happen,” “what might happen next,” or “what do you need” into your daily routine. Learn more about brain development here!
- Link ideas from one activity to another.
Throughout your day, build on classroom activities by helping children connect one idea to another. If you are reading a book about animals, ask if the children in the classroom have any of them as pets. If you already know that a child does have a pet, create a conversation around that. Tying ideas you teach and talk about in your classroom to the children’s lives or experiences builds relationships and critical cognitive skills. Get more information about how supporting relationships and development helps children prepare for school from birth here!
As you can see, everything we do with infants and toddlers can tie together – but it all starts with meaningful relationships! If you would like more information or supports about how you can build upon the relationships you already have, reach out to the infant toddler specialist at your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency.