For several years now, I have consulted with other centers and teachers on best practices for this age group and have even taught courses at the college level in this area. But this is the first year I will actually have day to day, hands-on experience with the age group. While explaining it to others and interpreting best practice from books and videos is something I can do pretty easily, actually putting that into practice is not always as easy as it sounds.
We are two weeks into the school year and find that we are making changes on almost a daily basis. Some of the changes have been small while others have more comprehensive. We've changed the daily schedule so much that we are having a hard time even remembering what we decided on. We have adjusted the room arrangement several times as well and we still aren't completely satisfied with it. Trying to reconcile the needs and interests of the children with what can sometimes be conflicting views of best practice is proving to be a bit of a challenge. Being an accredited center, we follow the criteria of NAEYC. We are also participating in our state's quality rating system, which uses a tool that sometimes conflicts with the NAEYC standards and criteria.
To further complicate matters, I follow the many of the principles recommended by Janet Gonzalez-Mena and many other faculty of the Program for Infant/Toddler Care. When it was left to me to choose a text for the infant/toddler course I was teaching at a community college, I chose a text based on their principles. The problem is their principles don't always mesh with what the state considers best practice. So the challenge is going to be finding a way to mesh all of these theories, principles and ideas in a way that works for us and the children (and families) we care for. It is a a bit daunting at times to think about it but I am confident we can make it work. The first challenge is going to be the room arrangement. Here are some pictures of the current arrangement as well as the first big change we've made so far. I have a feeling change is going to be the one constant this year!
We set this area up near the cozy area for those times a child just wants to do their own thing.
The children weren't using this are a lot so we started setting it up in different ways each day to help them generate some ideas. The more we play in the area with them, the more we see their ideas expanding in this area.
This is one of the busier areas in the room. I wish we had more space for them to build without bumping into each other.
The older toddlers were having a hard time controlling themselves in the active play area so we thought they were in need of some new challenges. So we added some tubes they can use for exploring with balls or other items they can find in the room. We purposely put them higher so the younger children can't get to them. We have the smaller panel for the younger toddlers to explore with and we can move it to meet the needs of all children so they can all be successful in the area without interfering with one another too much.
|Active play before|
|Active play after|