Teaching Practices

Infant/Toddler Teaching Practices

For infants and toddlers, all learning happens within the context of their relationships with important adults in their lives. Education staff use effective teaching practices to:

  • Establish strong relationships with young children and their families
  • Create learning environments that foster children’s trust and emotional security and respond to their interests and needs
  • Support and extend children’s learning in culturally and linguistically responsive ways

Use the resources on this page to strengthen infant and toddler teaching practices.

Effective Practice Guides

The Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) Effective Practice Guides provide information about domain-specific teaching practices that support children’s development. The guides show what these practices look like in early learning settings and help staff reflect on and improve their teaching practices.


Text4Teachers supports Head Start and Early Head Start teachers, staff, and others who care for and teach young children in center-based and family child care settings. Sign up to receive two free text messages per month with information, tips, research, and resources to strengthen and support your teaching practices.

ELOF2GO Mobile App

ELOF2GO is a mobile application (app) resource for teachers who want on-the-go access to the ELOF goals for children and effective teaching practices in support of those goals. It is designed for teachers, family child care providers, and home visitors. Download it now for your Apple or Android device.

Framework for Effective Practice

The Framework for Effective Practice uses a house to represent the five integral elements of quality teaching and learning for children ages birth to 5 in all program options. When these elements are connected, they form a single structure that surrounds the family in the center. The family is at the heart of the house because each house element is implemented in partnership with parents and families in their cultural and community context.

Individualizing Care for Infants and Toddlers

Part 1 of this two-part paper focuses on the importance of individualization and includes relevant Head Start Program Performance Standards. Review considerations for individualizing care and program structures and practices that support staff in doing this important work. Part 2 focuses on the "how" of individualizing care. It enables staff to respond thoughtfully to each child and family's interests, abilities, and needs.

Early Essentials Webisode 2: Building Relationships

Tammy Mann, president and CEO of the Campagna Center in Alexandria, VA, discusses ways to build relationships with expectant parents and the families of infants and toddlers.

Early Essentials Webisode 8: Responsive Interactions

Interactions with infants and young children are like a dance. Listen as Janet Gonzalez Mena and other experts discuss using back-and-forth exchanges to meet children's individual needs. Also, check out the accompanying Practice Moment.

News You Can Use: Developmentally Appropriate Practice

"Developmentally appropriate practice" (DAP) is a term often used when talking about young children. This edition of News You Can Use explores the meaning behind DAP and its purpose when working with infants and toddlers.

Let's Talk About Routines

Children are busy learning how their needs will be met by the adults who care for them. This Caring Connections podcast looks at the value of predictable routines to help young children build a sense of trust and security.

Let's Talk About Following the Baby

Even the youngest children are able to tell us in a variety of ways what they want and need. Caring adults invite infants' opinions and listen when they provide them. When we show babies that their choices are important to us, we teach them self-awareness and self-confidence. This Caring Connections podcast highlights the importance of communicating with infants and toddlers and following their lead as they explore their environment.

Engaging Interactions and Environments

These 15-minute in-service suites are a professional development resource for staff in busy, active early childhood centers and programs. They are organized around one topic or big idea and address effective teaching and assessment practices.

Last Updated: October 19, 2018