Young Toddler Program

We understand that toddlers benefit from individual schedules, responsive care, and secure relationships  so that they can relax into dependence as they move into autonomy and meet their world.

playspace with box

Philosophy

Young toddlers are moving in their environments and celebrating their new skills of climbing, walking, running, and standing. In this program, we design their play opportunities to build from those in the infant program so there are beautiful handmade climbing boxes, structures, and ramps to challenge and develop these blossoming skills. As young toddlers meet their physical successes, they become adept at carrying and lifting, pushing, and pulling objects through space. In these cases, we have weighted and heavy objects to offer resistance and heft to their movements as they build strength, endurance, and interest. Outside play occurs daily for upward of three hours in all kinds of weather. This affords the young child opportunities to experience their world as it changes in weather.

The intentional and deliberate relationships in the young toddler program help them enter a graceful dance with their primary educator adult as they look for proximity, predictable rhythmic routines, and consistent expectations. Our children are offered individual schedules, responsive care, and attention to their needs for dependence in the context of the group. The purposeful and simple environment we create avoids flooding the children with an overabundance of decisions and stimuli. Instead, we rely on the outside environment for hours of daily play in all weather and the inside space to extend the close and intimate investigations.

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 for children who need to have some quiet time with a caregiver before joining the group and rigorous play.

Morning and Afternoon Snack

Children have snack either in laps or at a table in a small group.  Their eating schedules are reflective of when they last ate.  Those with earlier breakfasts or lunches eat before those with the latest feedings.

Diapering/Toileting

Children are diapered throughout the day in two-hour intervals or as needed.  They may choose to try the toilet toward the end of their year in YT once they have begun to experience the beginning steps of toileting.

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. 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.  Staff 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, and their rest begins with a small group gathering for a story.  As they drift to sleep, staff sits with them singing a familiar song and rubbing their back as desired.

Wake Up Routine

As children wake, they have time to sit with staff and slowly move into their afternoon activities. Typically, they transition to a diaper change, then to their “second lunch” snack, and finally to outside play.

Room Chores & Departures

By 4:00 staff and children start to close 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 staff.

2021-2022 Young Toddler Program Staff

  • Heather Stephenson, Co-Lead Specialist
  • Allison McCadden, Co-Lead Educator
  • Taylor Langston, Educator
  • Marlee Glover, Educator
  • Lauren Bull, Educator