Older Toddler Program

The curriculum in our Older Toddler Program is based on the belief that through child-led and open-ended play the young child will meet the world and discover their strengths and challenges.

Group with Beth

Overview

The educators in the older toddler program sculpt the day to include play outside throughout the day, routines for circle, stories, and cooking, as well as time with their primary educator as they experience daily care.  Typically, this group of children is entering their third year together in their cohort of educators and children.

Philosophy

The deep connection between emotional development and learning through play is foundational as children build their skills for academics and social relationships.  Our practice with three-year-old’s is to offer adult presence throughout the day as a backdrop in the landscape of their interactions with peers and their investigations with materials. The richness of these relationships with adults allows for an authentic focus on them, relationships with other children, and understanding of who they are in the world.  Their educators afford them time, space, and invitations to pursue play outside and inside in order to consider problems, dilemmas, and solutions.

Daily Schedule

Arrival

Children arrive at the Center and are met at the front door by their caregiver. Parents offer notes on the night and morning and caregivers use this information to offer seamless care into the day. Upon arriving children wash hands, use the bathroom, or are diapered and then head outdoors for early morning outdoor play.

Early Outdoor Play

This morning time outdoors is spent getting our yard ready for the day as a group. Children participate by helping with the setting-up chores (taking buckets and shovels out of the shed, removing the tarps, preparing the rain barrels, finding materials needed for the day) alongside their caregivers and moving into play as they feel ready. There is a quiet area with blankets and books for children who need to have some quiet time with a caregiver before joining the group and rigorous play.

Morning and Afternoon Snack

Children participate in preparing snack for the group in the morning cutting up fruit or vegetables.  We have put this practice on hold during the pandemic, but it is a vibrant part of our early morning activity. Children eat with their primary educator in their small group at the table to maintain their connection to their adult, have conversations and experience the joy of sharing a meal together.

Diapering/Toileting

Children are diapered or try the toilet throughout the day in two-hour intervals.  The OT program is supportive of children who are toilet learning and so we work in partnership with families through this process.  While young children find the diapering experience to be individual and intimate, the bathroom toileting scene in  the older toddler program is a vibrant social moment.   

Outdoor Play & Exploration on the Play Yard

The major portions of the day when children aren’t involved in routine care are spent outside playing in our natural play space. Children play in the sand, use mud and water, build with loose parts or climb on the stumps, boulders and ramps. There is a shed which allows for an 'indoor' feel for children to engage in imaginative play as well as a deck space where more specific explorations and activities occur. The materials are familiar and the changes to the space occur primarily because of the weather puddles collect in the rain, snowbanks are formed into slides, warm days bring rain barrels filled with water for streams that run through the sand and over the rocks.  Teachers sculpt the space so that there are hills of sand, trenches with rocks, ramps and pallets balancing on stumps and logs, or tents set up over stick homes. The familiarity of the environment gives way to creativity and imaginative play.

Lunch

Children transition inside from their play to have their lunch from home.  During this time, we intentionally focus on meeting needs that will offer them comfort during their meal and transition to nap. We change their clothes, offer a fresh diaper or the toilet, hand wash, and take time to reconnect.  When all children are settled inside, they sit together with their group for their lunch that has been unpacked from their lunchbox and offered to them on a plate at their place.

Story, Diapering and Rest

As children prepare for their nap, they have a diaper change or use the toilet. Their rest begins with a small group gathering for a short puppet story and then their educator sits with them while the fall asleep singing a familiar song and rubbing their back as desired.

Wake Up Routine

As children wake, they have time to sit with an educator and slowly move into their afternoon activities. Typically, they transition to a diaper change or toileting, then to snack, and finally to outside play.

Room Chores & Departures

By 4:30 the caregivers and children start to close down the play yard participating together in caring for the environment and tucking things away for another day. These chores and closing of areas signal to children that the end of the day is coming and that they will transition to inside play.  The last hour of the day is marked with final routine care moments, child-led activities in the room, and stories with their educators.

2021-2022 Older Toddler Program Staff

  • Katie Wright, Co-Lead Specialist
  • Beth Sommers, Co-Lead Educator
  • Alison Znamierowski, Educator
  • Carley Senecal, Part-time Educator