Responsive Relationships and Interactions: The curriculum consistently promotes responsive relationships and interactions with infants and toddlers, which research shows are foundational to children's development in all domains. Innovations: Infant and Toddler Development describes the development of attachment, and the curriculum materials provide strategies to build secure, trusting relationships with children. Strategies include engaging in reciprocal interactions, making eye contact, smiling, and sharing in children's discoveries. The curriculum activity books promote sensitive, responsive caregiving (e.g., guidance on how to cope with crying, suggestions to maximize interactions during care routines). Many curriculum activities also offer examples of how to engage children in joint attention (e.g., "Look, a squirrel!" or "You are pointing at the wind chimes, Eric."). Finally, the curriculum encourages teachers to talk with children throughout the day and respond to their vocalizations.
Daily Routines as Opportunities for Learning: Innovations: The Comprehensive Infant and Toddler Curriculum provides guidance on how to establish developmentally appropriate schedules and routines for infants and toddlers. The curriculum recommends using individualized scheduling and interacting with children during basic care routines. It also provides specific guidance on how to support children and families during transitions, arrivals, and departures. While the curriculum states that interactions during daily routines support children's social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive development, it lacks specific direction or examples of how to engage in these interactions during caregiving routines.
Play and Exploration: The curriculum promotes infants' and toddlers' play and active exploration, which research suggests provide a rich context for learning in all domains. It includes guidance on how to create safe indoor and outdoor environments that support active physical play and exploration. This may include providing climbing equipment, offering loose parts for children to arrange in a variety of ways, and making toys available on low shelves for children's independent choices. In addition, the curriculum suggests providing uninterrupted time for children to explore and play according to their own interests. Finally, the curriculum planning process encourages teachers to observe children's emerging play themes and interests to inform future plans. The webbing approach to curriculum planning allows teachers to plan learning experiences and adjust their plans based on children's individual responses and interests.
Language-Rich Environment and Interactions: The curriculum offers research-based teaching practices to promote language-rich environments and interactions. In particular, the Communication with Parents, Teachers, and Friends chapters provide guidance on how to engage in varied types of talk with infants and toddlers throughout the day (e.g., description, parallel talk, self-talk, expansion, reflective dialogue). In addition, the curriculum offers strategies to build infants' and toddlers' vocabulary, like providing word labels for things in the environment, using pictures to enhance vocabulary, playing word games with children, and adding vocabulary words to curriculum plans. Finally, the curriculum's "Literacy Possibilities" feature several opportunities to support children's engagement in early literacy learning, such as read-alouds, puppet stories, and emergent writing experiences.
Promoting Emotional, Behavioral, and Cognitive Self-Regulation: Innovations: The Comprehensive Infant and Toddler Curriculum promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's emotional, behavioral, and cognitive self-regulation. In particular, the Expressing Feelings with Parents, Teachers, and Friends chapters offer teaching practices to help infants and toddlers begin to regulate their emotions (e.g., labeling and validating emotions, modeling recognition and expression of emotions). These chapters also provide strategies to support children's behavioral regulation (e.g., setting clear limits, teaching social problem-solving, giving children words to use during peer interactions). Finally, the curriculum describes the development of executive function and provides some strategies to facilitate children's cognitive self-regulation (e.g., helping children understand logical consequences for their behaviors, supporting children as they learn to delay gratification).
Facilitating Cognitive Development: The curriculum promotes some research-based teaching practices that facilitate infants' and toddlers' cognitive development. The "Teacher Talk" prompts embedded throughout the curriculum's learning experiences provide examples of how to support cognitive development during play and exploration (e.g., narrating actions, describing objects, asking open-ended questions). Similarly, the learning experiences provide examples of how to embed math language and concepts throughout activities (e.g., counting with children, talking about size). However, the curriculum lacks explicit discussion and learning goals of children's emergent math skills or guidance on how to support those skills during daily routines. The curriculum offers instruction for how teachers can scaffold children's social problem-solving skills (e.g., calling for help, trading, walking away, taking turns, plan-making), but it lacks strategies or learning experiences that support the development of children's problem-solving skills more broadly.
Supporting Physical Development: The curriculum consistently recommends research-based teaching practices to support perceptual, motor, and physical development of infants and toddlers. The curriculum activity books include many varied opportunities for infants and toddlers to practice fine, gross, and perceptual motor skills. For example, the curriculum features several learning experiences for children to practice fine motor skills (e.g., shaking rattles, playing pat-a-cake, turning book pages, nesting cans and boxes) and gross motor skills (e.g., kicking legs with foot rattles, tossing a ball, walking on different textures). The curriculum's "Movement Possibilities" encourage teachers to allow infants and toddlers to practice physical skills and provide support to each child as needed.