• Patricia Mezu LL.M, M.Ed., AMI Montessori Diploma

What About Resources For Infants And Toddlers?

Birth to three years really matters, within the landscape of early childhood education. In some ways, perhaps, it is overlooked. There's an assumption that those years aren't critical. However, research indicates otherwise.

Why Birth To Three Years Really Matters

The first three years of life are the most fundamental in the development of human beings and their potential. During the time the core of personality, social skills, and human values are developed.

Children require significant support during this period, both from their parents and if attending a preschool, from trained and experienced educators specialised in early childhood education and development.

Needs of the children vary and include:

  • Developing a strong sense of belonging

  • Independence

  • Gross and fine motor development

  • Language acquisition

  • Social and emotional development

Support for the development of the child starts from as early as the ante-natal stage, when parents can be equipped to prepare for the birth of their child. Due to work/other commitments a number of parents choose to send their children to nurseries/preschools, as early as 45 days. Educators, skilled in the profession prepare welcoming environments in order to provide requisite support and development of the very young children.

Resources and Curricula

There are a number of age-specific curricula that cater to the needs of such children and a few are listed below for the convenience of educators who specialise in the infant and toddler years.

1. Montessori - Montessori educational environments are carefully prepared for child-centred learning.

The Montessori environment:

  • Is organised to support the developmental characteristics and interests of a mixed age group within an identified range;

  • Promotes lively and purposeful engagement in both indoor and outdoor settings;

  • Can be adapted to any culture or setting; and,

  • Thrives through the trained adult’s careful observation of both universal and individual needs as revealed by each unique learner.

For further information - https://montessori-ami.org/about-montessori/montessori-programmes

You may also visit MONTIKIDS.COM and receive a discount on your first purchase by using the code - HOPE123.

2.Waldorf education — an international movement, that originated in Germany and is based upon Rudolf Steiner’s insights. Each child is seen as a unique individual who seeks to learn and grow by experiencing the path of earthly life. “Those who receive young children at the very beginning of this journey can experience reverence and awe for the hidden, spiritual processes that guide the pre-birth growth and development of the child, as well as the remarkable untaught achievements of the first three years: learning to walk, speak and think. To assist children to continue this journey into life in a healthy way, through an ever-deepening understanding of the human being in body, soul, and spirit, is the task of the Waldorf early childhood educator.”

For further information, please visit the site in the USA - http://www.waldorfearlychildhood.org/articles.php You can also visit the site in the U.K. - https://steinerwaldorf.org  

3. Resources For Infant Educators (‘RIE’) - “The Educaring® Approach encourages adult caregivers to see young children as competent and capable humans from birth. The Approach seeks to help parents and professionals build stable, secure, healthy relationships with infants and toddlers, encouraging the children’s natural abilities from the very start”.

For further information and an online course, please visit the site: https://www.rie.org/product/intro-to-educaring    


4. The Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age 3 - these Guidelines provide early childhood professionals and policy makers with a “framework for understanding child development by presenting information on what children know and should do and what development looks like in everyday life. The main goal of the Guidelines is to offer early childhood professionals a cohesive analysis of children’s development with common expectations and common language”. Please click on either of these two links for further information. The second link has a number of videos: https://illinoisearlylearning.org/ielg/ ; https://illinoisearlylearning.org/resources/videos/ielg-moments/

5. Program For Infant Toddler Care (‘PITC’) - they consider a relationship-based approach to caring for infants and toddlers as essential. “PITC believes responsive, respectful care in a relationship is key for supporting early learning, rather than developing lessons for infants to master. Adults who implement the PITC find ways to allow for, expand, adapt, and encourage infants' efforts to pursue their inborn learning agenda”. For more information, please visit their website: https://www.pitc.org/public-resources

6. Supporting Change and Reform In Preservice Teaching In North Carolina (‘SCRIPT-NC’) - There are a number of videos and resources on this site, focused on “evidence-based and competency-based practices that support the inclusion of children with disabilities and who are culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse”. Please click here to access the site: https://scriptnc.fpg.unc.edu/resources

7. Pikler - “Dr. Emmi Pikler, (1902-1984) was a Hungarian paediatrician, author and lecturer known for her revolutionary approach to infant and child care. In 1946 she founded a residential nursery in Budapest, Hungary, the Pikler® Institute, where the focus was to preserve the competence, autonomy and integrity of the young child, ages 0 to six years. For further details on the Pikler principles please click here: https://thepiklercollection.weebly.com/pikler-principles.html You may also visit the Pikler site in the USA: https://pikler.org

8. Zero To Three - this is another good resource. Their mission is to ensure that “all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life. They envision a society that has the knowledge and will to support all infants and toddlers in reaching their full potential”. Please visit their website: https://www.zerotothree.org

This is a good place for any educator to start when exploring resources for developing infants and toddlers. If you have any further suggestions, please share!

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