At the heart of the curriculum is the child, who depends on adults to support and nurture exploration and learning. Early Head Start (EHS) and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) program staff keep this in mind as they select a curriculum that meets the unique needs of their children, families, and community. Staff make sure the curriculum is based on research, aligns with the ELOF and state early learning and development standards, and supports children’s progress toward the program’s school readiness goals (45 CFR §1302.32). Additionally, a home-based curriculum promotes the parents’ role as their child’s teacher through experiences that focus on the parent-child relationship and, as appropriate, the family’s traditions, cultures, values, and beliefs (45 CFR §1302.35(d)(1)(i)-(iii)). Programs also look at how easily staﬀ can use the chosen curriculum to meet the interests, needs, and abilities of each child in the program.
An appropriate curriculum for infants and toddlers in any program setting provides guidance and strategies for supporting infant and toddler development and learning. This is done through an organized developmental scope and sequence, which include plans and materials for learning experiences based on developmental progressions and how children learn. An appropriate curriculum also offers education staff some flexibility in how it is implemented. In these curricula, staff:
- Have opportunities to discover an infant or toddler’s “individual curriculum” (e.g., the child’s interests, motivations, and needs)
- Choose and oﬀer experiences that match a child’s (or small group of children’s) interests and developmental level
- Use everything that happens (planned and spontaneous) during the day, home visit, or group socialization as learning opportunities
- Create environments that reﬂect children and families served in the program
In other words, these curricula support child-initiated and child-pursued learning and allow staﬀ to individualize learning for each child. To aid this process, use the following 15-minute In-service Suite:
Each suite contains a home-based version of the presentation, videos, and handouts, focused on implementing a curriculum responsively in home and group socialization settings.
J. Ronald Lally, “Infants Have Their Own Curriculum: A Responsive Approach to Curriculum Planning for Infants and Toddlers,” in Curriculum in Head Start, Head Start Bulletin No. 67 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Head Start Bureau, 2000); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Care, National Infant & Toddler Child Care Initiative, Infant/Toddler Curriculum and Individualization (Washington, DC, 2010), 9.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning
Age Group: Infants and Toddlers
Audience: Teachers and Caregivers
Last Updated: June 8, 2023