- Describe ways responsive routines can support physical growth and development.
- Identify ways to support physical growth and development for infants and toddlers during specific daily routines.
- Examine ways to individualize routines so that all infants and toddlers can enhance their physical skills.
High-quality supportive early-learning environments include responsive routines that support infant and toddler physical development. These consistent routines should offer emotional security, which in turn helps children feel safe to explore and learn. By participating in everyday routines, a child is better able to learn about the world around them and begin to understand what is important within their environment, and how it effects them. These experiences provide opportunities to grow and develop.
Supporting Physical Development During Daily Routines
In the Learning Environments course, you learned the importance of daily routines and ways of supporting infant and toddler development throughout routines. This lesson will focus specifically on supporting physical development during particular daily routines. You also learned about key caregiving strategies that help you create responsive routines. Learning from families and through observations remain as two important strategies that you will continue to use when supporting the physical development of infants and toddlers during daily routines.
Ongoing observation is an important part of your role as a caregiver and it is an essential piece to the daily care and experiences you offer in your classroom. As you watch children and observe what they do and say, you are able to learn more about their strengths and needs; which provides you with information for developing responsive routines.
Routines such as feeding and eating, diapering and toileting, and sleeping or resting provide multiple opportunities to support physical growth and development. For example, you may support toddlers climbing up steps attached to the diaper changing table as a way to provide gross-motor skill development. The table below offers examples of interactions and how you can utilize moments throughout your daily routine to help build fine- and gross-motor skills and sensory experiences.
Opportunities During Daily Routines to Support Fine- and Gross- Motor Skills
Other routines for infants and toddlers may include arrival (hellos), hand washing, teeth brushing, cleaning, and departure (goodbyes). Keep in mind:
- Temperament of the child
- A family’s values, beliefs, and the cultural differences of each child
- Your personal experiences and thoughts about physical development and routines
- Variables that impact the caregiving environment (e.g., physical set-up of room, caregiver schedules, materials available, etc.)
Supporting Physical Development through Individualized and Responsive Routines
Each child approaches the world in his or her own way. Several things contribute to this approach; such as temperament, family culture, and past experiences. In an effort to support each child’s development and learning, you should provide individualized, responsive routines within your childcare setting. Observe and reflect on what infants and toddlers are experiencing, and then think about additional ways to support them through interactions during; their care, their environment, activities, and other experiences in an effort to help each individual child feel confident and successful in his or her growing skills.
Routines are a significant part of development and learning for children of this age. Therefore, it is important to coordinate with the child’s family to ensure that routines are supportive of, and based on, the child’s strengths, needs, and learning interests; while also complimenting the family’s values, beliefs, and goals. This collaborative approach can help support all of the infants and toddlers in your care. Individualized approaches to routines include:
- Learning about and implementing routines based on families’ cultural preferences and practices related to feeding or eating, diapering and toileting, and sleeping and resting
- Creating individual schedules for those routines
- Understanding the child’s temperament style (e.g., sensitivity to touch, such as when using a wet wipe, or sensitivity to certain food textures)
- Adjusting your pace for routines to match the pace and rhythm of the child, so that they have plenty of time to practice their skills while eating, drinking, toileting, washing and dressing
- Establishing transitions into daily routines so that children are able to feel emotionally secure and confident in their learning environment when moving from one activity to another. Consider incorporating elements of movement into transitions that match the energy level of the activity or environment children will transition into (If moving from gross motor time to a fine motor tabletop activity, consider transitions where movement allows for bodies to ease into this different environment)
Below are examples of what an individualized approach may look like during a care routine:
Caregiver, Ms. Raquel, learned from Rebecca’s family that they give her items to hold and manipulate during diapering routines. Rebecca is 4-months-old, and Ms. Raquel has noticed that some objects appear to be too heavy for her and she seems to be struggling to hold them. Ms. Raquel found some lighter and thicker options, thinking these might be easier for her to explore. Ms. Raquel offered Rebecca a rattle made from soft fabric during a diapering routine. Ms. Raquel noticed she was able to grasp and hold onto this rattle. At the end of the day, Ms. Raquel shared this observation and information with Rebecca’s family.
Mr. Gregory and Charlie’s family have noticed that Charlie, 26-months-old, will cry and run away when it’s time to wash hands before and after mealtimes. Mr. Gregory shared with the family that Charlie seems to prefer the liquid soap and is able to take part in the routine more comfortably if he sings a song that describes the experience of touching and feeling the soap and water. “First we have to rub, rub, rub with soap…and now our hands are soapy and slippery…so let’s rinse them off!”
Being a responsive caregiver means you:
- Provide a nurturing, consistent and responsive environment for infants and toddlers.
- Respond to the needs of infants and toddlers quickly and appropriately.
- Recognize that establishing relationships with the children’s families and primary caregivers is key. Modify your environment as infants and toddlers develop and change.
- Continuously examine and reflect on what you are observing from the children in your care, the environment you have created, as well as the interactions, experiences, and activities you offer.
- Balance the predictability and comfort of routines with the changing needs of infants and toddlers.
In essence, being a responsive caregiver means you do a lot!
Consider the descriptions above and try at least one of the following ideas below to offer a responsive approach to supporting physical development during routines:
- Offer toddlers a no-splash pitcher so they can practice pouring with minimal spills during mealtimes or snacks. You can also expose children to this concept and practice this skill by incorporating pitchers for pouring various materials during sensory play, like water or sand, into other containers.
- Hang an acrylic safety mirror near the diapering table for infants.
- Post photographs or illustrations on hand washing so infants and toddlers can see the steps and have visual reminders.
- Sing a relaxing and calming song before nap time to allow the children to wind down.
Providing infants and toddlers appropriate experiences and interactions to help support their physical development is part of being a responsive caregiver. Read and review the handout below, A Responsive Approach to Blowing Bubbles During Goodbyes. You will read through different approaches to blowing bubbles during goodbyes (departure) and determine which approaches fit with which age group. Compare your answers to the answers provided and if you have any questions you can discuss your responses with your coach, trainer, or administrator.
It is important to offer learning experiences and activities that are appropriate, engaging and supportive of children’s learning and development across various developmental domains including cognitive, social-emotional, physical, language and literacy, and creative development. Staff working toward their CDA credential should use the CDA Gross Motor Activity Plan handout to develop an outdoor gross motor learning experience from your curriculum (or a new activity you plan on implementing).
A Responsive Approach to Blowing Bubbles During Goodbyes
Daily routines offer opportunities for caring and learning. You will spend a great deal of time in routines with the children in your classroom, so it is important to make these moments meaningful. Read and complete the handout below, Supporting Physical Development During Daily Routines. Think about the infants and toddlers in your care and all you have learned throughout this course and this particular lesson. Use your knowledge of infants and toddlers (consider reviewing the Infant and Toddler Physical Development milestones information from Lesson Two), and think about the ways you can continue to support their physical growth and development during routines. First review the example provided. Then, complete the sections for each infant and toddler in your care. Once you have finished your responses discuss your plan on supporting the children in your care with your coach, trainer, or administrator.
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