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Initiative and Curiosity: Improve

Infants and Toddlers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children’s initiative and curiosity is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Below are some practices that support infants' and toddlers' initiative and curiosity.
    • Use verbal and nonverbal strategies to follow children's interests and ideas and provide encouragement.1
    • Help children to learn about the world by providing access to different types of objects and positioning infants and toddlers in ways that allow them to explore.2
    • Demonstrate other ways to use or move objects to keep children's attention. Call attention to attributes, properties, and function of objects, gradually combining objects.
    • Provide a variety of toys to allow children to explore and offer positioning, modeling, or verbal support.
    • Nurture children's curiosity by using words and actions that demonstrate you value curiosity and are curious yourself.
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you've identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Provide a variety of toys to allow children to explore and offer positioning, modeling, or verbal support, you and your coach/supervisor can plan to focus his observation on floor or tummy time when you are positioned on the floor with infants. Your coach/supervisor can record the strategies you use to extend and enhance infants' exploration of toys and other objects. He may also note opportunities to use strategies you rely on less frequently. For example, you may use lots of verbal support during the observation but miss a chance to reposition an infant for greater access to various toys.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how you engage with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child’s initiative and curiosity?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach or supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child or parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

Preschoolers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children’s initiative and curiosity is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Below are some practices that support preschoolers' initiative and curiosity.3
    • Provide ample time for free exploration. Schedule play and exploration periods of at least one uninterrupted hour at a time.
    • Adapt tools, play materials, and the environment to encourage children with disabilities to explore (e.g., provides gloves for children who are tactilely defensive, lowers the water table for children who use walkers or wheelchairs, puts gripper cloth on tables to prevent objects from sliding off).
    • Observe individual children while they pursue their own interests. Determine each child's level of engagement, curiosity, enthusiasm, self-confidence, and persistence.
    • Model curiosity and enthusiasm when learning new things.
    • Encourage children to choose activities based on their own interests. Ask children periodically about their plans to reinforce the idea that they have the power to make their own choices.
    • Engage in play and exploration with children, giving language to shared discoveries and modeling a spirit of curiosity.
    • Provide ample time for free exploration, Schedule play and exploration periods of at least one uninterrupted hour at a time.
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you've identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Encourage children to choose activities based on their own interests. Ask children periodically about their plans to reinforce the idea that they have the power to make their own choices, you can plan for your coach/supervisor to observe during free choice. Ask her to note the number of times you encourage children's own choices about activities versus making recommendations or selecting activities for children.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how you engage with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child’s initiative and curiosity?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach or supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child or parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1Sally Atkins-Burnett, et.al., Measuring the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions with Infants and Toddlers: The Q-CCIIT Observer Certification Training User's Guide (Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research, 2016), 21, A.3.

2Sally Atkins-Burnett, et.al., Measuring the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions with Infants and Toddlers: The Q-CCIIT Observer Certification Training User's Guide (Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research, 2016), 26, B.1.

3California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 1 (Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education, 2010), 57–58, Social-Emotional Development, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf.

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 5, 2018