Effective Practice Guides

Relationships with Adults: Know

Goals for Infants and Toddlers

  • IT-SE 1. Child develops expectations of consistent, positive interactions through secure relationships with familiar adults.
  • IT-SE 2. Child uses expectations learned through repeated experiences in primary relationships to develop relationships with other adults.
  • IT-SE 3. Child learns to use adults as a resource to meet needs.

Teaching Practices


Respond to children’s positive and negative emotions in ways that let children know their feelings are important.
“Way to go, Marisol!” says her mother, Ms. Ortiz, as the 1-year-old takes a few halting steps toward her. Marisol laughs with glee when she reaches her mother’s arms. Soon she turns around to toddle to a nearby chair. Ms. Ortiz is excited to see her daughter so excited. Kevin, their home visitor, says, “What an exciting development for you and Marisol. Let’s think about what you and Marisol can do together now that she is walking. Are there any safety hazards to be fixed?”

Convey warmth and affection toward children by smiling, laughing, showing empathy, and using gentle, nurturing touch.
Mario, 3-and-a-half years, Andrea, 2 months, and their grandfather (abuelo) arrive at Ms. Diaz’s family child care home for the first time this season. Ms. Diaz greets them. “Welcome back, Mario and Mr. Navas. How wonderful to meet you, Andrea.” Mr. Navas passes his granddaughter into Ms. Diaz’s arms. Ms. Diaz asks, “How does Andrea like to be held?” Mr. Navas demonstrates holding her upright on one shoulder while Mario looks for the trucks he played with last year. Abuelo waves goodbye to the children. Ms. Diaz tells them, “It’s hard for your abuelo to say goodbye, but I will take good care of you, Mario and Andrea.”


Stay aware of children’s needs by consistently scanning the setting and responding when children need help.
While Mr. Elliot is in the block area with two older toddlers, he frequently gazes around the room. When he sees Jalani and Noah tugging at a firefighter’s hat, he quickly moves to them. “Look guys, there’s another hat on the shelf. You can each wear a hat.” Jalani walks to the shelf to get the hat and then both boys pick up “hoses” to put out the fire.

Provide quiet and active areas stocked with materials children may use on their own, all the while being ready to join a child who indicates interest in the adult’s participation.
Young toddlers Nini and Silla are climbing up and down the rocking boat steps, Panuk and Sedna are dancing with scarves, and Tuuq is drumming by himself. Other children are building with jumbo Legos and sweeping the house area. Ms. Carla sees Tuuq is looking at her so she joins him in drumming. He looks happy to have her drumming with him.


Wait for a child’s response to a verbal or nonverbal communication before acting and vary responses to match or adapt to those of the child.
Freddy, 5 months old, recently mastered rolling over from his belly to his back. Until today, he has been content to stay on his back observing the goings on in the classroom and exploring his own hands and feet. Today, Freddy tries to roll back over on to his tummy. He rocks from side to side but can’t quite make it over to his tummy. Now he cries in frustration. His teacher, Ms. Shirley, has been watching Freddy’s attempts for a while. She steps in to offer help when she sees how upset he is. Ms. Shirley gets down on Freddy’s level and says, “Freddy, I see you trying hard to get back on your tummy. You can see the stuffed puppy but you can’t reach him. Would you like some help?”

Use children’s names with a positive comment, look children in the eye (if culturally appropriate) and listen carefully during a conversation, and follow their interests with actions, words, and new ideas.
“Tacto. Big tires,” an excited LaBron tells his home visitor, Kim. “LaBron sat on a tractor at the museum on Saturday,” his mom explains to their home visitor. LaBron’s mom turns back to him and adds, “You are still excited about the tractor, LaBron,” her face showing delight, her face level with his. “You sat way up high.” “Tacto. Biiiig tires,” he says again, with a huge smile. Kim turns to LaBron’s mother and says, “LaBron certainly enjoys and learns from his conversations with you—especially when you are at his level.”

Goals for Preschoolers

  • P-SE 1. Child engages in and maintains positive relationships and interactions with adults.
  • P-SE 2. Child engages in prosocial and cooperative behavior with adults.

Teaching Practices


Model and discuss pro-social behaviors so children can experience how they look and feel.
Ms. Lee and several of the 3-year-olds are picking cherry tomatoes in the garden. With a full bucket in hand, Julian hurries to the end of the row. On the way, he trips, dropping tomatoes everywhere. “Oh dear,” says Ms. Lee to the others. “Let’s all help Julian pick up his tomatoes. Then he will be able to pick some more.”

Demonstrate respect by kneeling, using eye contact (if culturally appropriate), and listening closely until children have finished talking.
Joon, 3 years, has exciting news to share with his teacher, Ms. Hannigan. He grabs her hand as soon as he enters the room, saying, “Listen, listen.” “Of course I will,” she says and kneels at his level. He begins, “I’m going to be a big brother.” Joon’s mother smiles and says, “That’s right. It is big news.”


Set up materials needed for an activity in advance so children do not have to wait.
Today, the children will make pretzels for snack. A family child care provider, Ms. Quinto, takes the ingredients from the cupboard along with the bowls and utensils they will need. She thinks, “We’ll need some eggs to brush the tops of the pretzels, but we can get those out later. The children really enjoy cracking eggs!”

Arrange materials so children can easily find what they need and return things when they are finished using them.
During a mid-year home visit, Ms. Larson, the teacher in the 4-year-olds room, notes that Nadia’s family has rearranged the items on their shelves. Now Nadia’s books, toys, and art materials are on a bottom shelf where she can reach them. Nadia’s mother says, “She can find her toys and clean up quickly when it’s time for bed now.”


Spend one-on-one time with every child, every day.
After a busy morning and a healthy lunch, the 3-year-olds are ready for naptime. Each child has settled on a cot and Ms. Eddy is making her rounds. At Eli’s cot she says, “I saw you pull Daria in the wagon. She was laughing.” Eli says, “I like Daria. I’m going to play with her later.”

Comment on and thank children for their positive behavior.
Connor, 4 years, likes to run and frequently forgets to walk indoors. At today’s group socialization, he hears his friend Diego call his name, “Connor, we need you to be the driver.” Overhearing the request, Connor’s dad, Mr. Unger, smiles at Connor and says, “Walk please.” Connor nods and walks to meet Diego. Later, Mr. Unger says to his son, “Thank you for remembering to stay safe by walking indoors.”

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 5, 2018