Implementing Plans

Adult showing a toddler different items at the sensory table.Put simply, “implement” means put plans into action. The good news is that “when experiences are planned and tailored to the developmental needs of infants and toddlers, they become engaged, active learners.”[1]

Implementing plans may involve a new way to interact with a child (or for a parent to support the child), a change in the schedule or physical environment, a different approach to routine care, an introduction to new materials, or a new experience. It may also involve doing the same things as before. Either way, encourage education staff to allow children to make choices and interact freely with materials and equipment and to modify the setup of the indoor and outdoor environments and the experiences or routines.[2] Remind staff that the child’s response (or lack of response) influences how implementation occurs, and that they should observe what the child does and follow the child’s lead. In this way, staff “create with the child a learning experience that is personally meaningful and responsive, moment by moment.”[3] Note that in group care settings, especially with older infants and toddlers, expecting all children to do the same things at the same times is not best practice for individualized care. The same is true for siblings in a home visit setting.

Implementing plans may also produce surprising or unexpected results. These results, in turn, may lead staff to new insights and opportunities that refine their understanding of each child and family. Support staff in this discovery process by encouraging them to implement their plans “in the spirit of experimentation: Each time a plan works or does not work, [staff] can learn and grow from the experience.”[4]

To sum up implementing plans as they relate to individualizing care, consider the following (adapted from the California Infant/Toddler Curriculum Framework[5]):

  • Planning should reflect:
    • The abilities that infants and toddlers bring to each interaction
    • Each child’s need for relationship-based experiences
    • Family input and preferences
    • An understanding of and appreciation for each child within the context of the child’s family, home language(s), and culture
  • Implementing individualized care practices should focus staff on:
    • Enhancing their connections and engagement with each child’s family and fully supporting each family’ as their child’s first and most important teacher
    • Maximizing each child’s sense of security and attachment to the important adults in the child’s life
    • Learning to read each infant’s and toddler’s cues and responding appropriately
    • Encouraging and supporting each child’s interests and explorations
    • Addressing the child’s whole learning experience, including creating a safe and interesting place for learning
    • Supporting children’s progress toward individual goals but also allowing for variations in temperament, approach, and pace

[1]National Infant & Toddler Child Care Initiative, Infant/Toddler Curriculum and Individualization, 28.

[2]California Department of Education, California Infant/Toddler Learning and Development Program Guidelines (Sacramento, CA, 2006), 40.

[3]California Department of Education, Infant/Toddler Curriculum Framework, 47.

[4]California Department of Education, Infant/Toddler Learning and Development Program Guidelines, 107.

[5]California Department of Education, Infant/Toddler Curriculum Framework, 45-46.