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Memory: Improve

Infants and Toddlers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to help children develop memory skills 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. Here are some practices that help infants and toddlers build memory skills:1,2
    • Expand children’s exploration by describing and pointing out attributes or properties of living and non-living things (e.g., textures, size, shape, and function).
    • Talk about things not present and relate the talk to the child’s interest or activity using pictures, objects, or events.
    • Relate current activities to children’s previous knowledge and activities.
    • As children become toddlers, talk with them about events that occurred less recently to increase the distance between the event and your conversation.
    • Provide cues (e.g., verbal, gestures, signing, visual) to help children remember and learn new information.
    • Elicit or encourage children’s own use of decontextualized language (e.g., talking about things not present).
    • Play simple games that involve memory (e.g., peek-a-boo, hide-and-seek with objects, memory game with small sets of pictures).
  • In home-based programs, effective practices may also include 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, Talk about things not present and relate the talk to the child’s interest or activity using pictures, objects, or events, ask your coach/supervisor to observe you during a floor or outdoor play time. Have your them note the number of times you talk about things not present or relate your conversation to a child’s interest or an event you know the child experienced in the past. Your coach/supervisor can also look for times when you could have extended a learning moment by adding details to connect the moment to something not present (e.g., “This leaf on the ground looks like the leaves we have in our sensory table inside.”).
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages 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 child/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 developing memory skills?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/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/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/children/parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1Allyson Dean, Sarah, LeMoine, and Maria Mayoral, ZERO TO THREE Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators (Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE, 2016), 43, C-1.

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), 56–57, D.6.

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 5, 2018