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  • October 2017
  • Vol. 18, No. 7

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Working Toward a Definition of Infant/Toddler Curricula

Research has shown that the first 3 years of a child's life is an important developmental period characterized by rapid brain development, reliance on relationships with adults and social interactions, and heightened responsiveness to environmental stimulation, making this period an ideal opportunity to make a long-term impact on a child's future outcomes.

The brief Working Toward a Definition of Infant/Toddler Curricula: Intentionally Furthering the Development of Individual Children Within Responsive Relationships, produced by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation and the Network of Infant/Toddler Researchers, focuses on the term "curriculum" when applied to early education and care programs serving infants and toddlers. The authors intend for this information to be useful for stakeholders in early childhood education, such as those who provide group care in home and center settings, including Early Head Start and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs.

According to the brief, existing definitions of infant/toddler curriculum combine content and teaching style. The curricular content for this age group usually includes planned experiences and activities aimed at supporting learning and that are based on the child's interests and abilities as well as their internal sleep/wake schedules. Infant and toddler curricula also include environmental aspects such as having appropriate materials aimed at supporting motor, social-emotional, cognitive, and language development.

The brief also discusses the implications of this definition for educators and researchers, how to measure and verify the implementation of an infant and toddler curriculum, current examples of the verification process, and implementation within the context of supportive and sustained relationships between educators and children's families.

The brief, Working Toward a Definition of Infant/Toddler Curricula: Intentionally Furthering the Development of Individual Children Within Responsive Relationships, is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/nitr_report_v09_final_b508.pdf (4,434 KB).
 

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