Curriculum Statement

Infant Curriculum Statement

Created 4 Me Early Learning Centre Inc offers a child-centered, family-oriented Infant program that is designed to promote a developmental approach to the social, emotional, physical and cognitive growth of each child. We believe these areas of growth do not evolve separately, but rather support and strengthen each other.

We try our best to follow the "best practice" standards of quality care in all aspects of our program, including staff qualifications and ongoing training; health, safety  and security; program requirements; room arrangement and the daily routine care and well-being of each infant enrolled in our program.

Parents are the infants’ first ‘teachers’ and are the most knowledgeable about their infants. Educators (ECEs), through education and experience, have a wide general knowledge of infants and their developmental stages. With both these sources of information working together the infant, the family and the Educator all benefit. The importance of the partnership between parents of children and Educators at Created 4 Me Early Learning Centre is never greater than when it is applied to infants. Good, honest communication is a necessity when the infant is of an age where they are unable to verbalize their needs. Learning to distinguish between the infant’s ‘hungry’ cry, the ‘tired’ cry and the ‘frightened’ cry is easiest when the parent is involved and consulted during the initial days of child care. Parents and Educators at Created 4 Me will need to develop a mutual respect for each other and understand the importance of the partnership on which they are about to embark. Developing a partnership with the parents of infants is one of the most important jobs that the staff of an infant room in a child care centre will have.

All new infant families will be provided with an orientation and encouraged to participate in orientation visits to our child care centre. This allows our Educators, parents and infants to begin to develop positive relationships. It is absolutely critical that the infant be provided with ample time to develop a trusting relationship with one consistent Educator at the C4M before the parent leaves the infant for any length of time at the centre.

A gradual introduction to the infant room is encouraged in order that s/he has the opportunity to develop trust in the new situation and to begin to develop a bond with the infant primary and secondary caregiver. The length of the orientation for the infant to the infant room will vary greatly from individual to individual. It will depend on the developmental stage of the infant and his/her readiness to stay in the infant room without his/her parent. Trying to rush the process and make the infant remain without his/her parent before the infant is ready will make the process for all concerned lengthier and more difficult. For the first few days the infant visits for only a short time and with his/her parent. The primary and or secondary caregiver uses these visits to begin to develop a relationship with the infant. Only when it appears that the infant has begun to trust his/her primary / secondary caregiver should the parent leave the room and only for a very short time to begin with. At this time the parent should remain on-site and be available to return should the infant show signs of distress that the primary caregiver is not able to allay relatively easily. This process continues with the parent leaving for longer and longer periods until the infant is comfortable being left. When the infant is given the opportunity to trust the new situation through a gradual transition to a full day, the benefits are far-reaching. If s/he is not given the opportunity to form an attachment successfully with their primary caregiver in the centre, the negative effect on the infant’s development can also be far reaching.

Communication With Parents

Open communication between the infant’s primary caregiver and the parents is essential. This can only be achieved when there is trust between the two parties. Having the required information in order that the needs of the infant are met depends on sharing information on a daily basis. The parent needs to know:

• when the infant slept during the day and for how long

• what the infant ate/drank during the day

• when and how often the infant urinated and had a bowel movement during the day.

 

In turn, the Created 4 Me Educators in the infant room needs to have information on the infant’s sleep, eating and elimination patterns prior to coming to the centre. If this information is not shared the infant’s health can be affected. Information is also available to both the Educators and the parent about when the infant is likely to be hungry or need to sleep, allowing the needs of the infant to be more easily met. If an older infant has not napped well at the centre, s/he may need an earlier bedtime than usual that evening.  

At Created 4 Me we have found the most useful and simple way to provide and obtain the required information is the use of a daily report. It does require a little time to fill in this type of report however, it provides a concise and complete summary of the essential information. This report also includes information of a more general nature, for example the child’s mood or medical information, thus making it easier to care for an infant appropriately. It is very useful to have a chart that is divided into two sections. The first half is completed by the parent at drop-off time and the second part is completed by the primary and secondary caregiver throughout the day to provide daily information to the parent. If the parent does not drop off or pick up the infant the report can be sent home in the diaper bag to the parent. The parent completes their part of the chart and sends it in with the infant’s belongings the next day.

Communication with parents on more general matters is also important in developing and maintaining positive relationships with parents. These include:

  • talking with parents at drop off/pick up times
  • informing parents about exploration and the importance of play through various newsletters throughout the year, providing parents with articles or resources provided by the coordinator and or verbally. We also    provide  or post photographs of the children engaged in play for parents to view. We document either in the children’s daily report or at the bottom of the photograph what we observe through the eyes of an ECE.
  • regular telephone calls or letters which keep a parent connected, particularly if it is not the parent who regularly picks up or drops off the infant
  • newsletters with general information for all families
  • A parent bulletin board with information such as the current Child Care Services license, menus, any up-coming events, information sheets that may be relevant to parents and so on
  • social events for families, children and staff; for example a summer picnic or a holiday
  • regular individual meetings (if needed) will be scheduled with parents of each infant to share information and discuss the infant’s development

Infants change dramatically between the ages of birth and two years. It is the time of life when development takes place most rapidly. The needs and abilities of the newborn are vastly different from that of a two year old. The developmental level of each infant must be recognized and understood. This means that Created 4 Me will need to adapt on an on-going basis to meet the changing needs of every infant in the room. The fact that there will be a maximum of four infants in our infant room, a minimum of one trained Educator for every four infants and that each infant will have a primary and secondary caregiver who knows the infant very well allows for the needs of all the children in the infant room to be met. Age may provide a very rough guide but it is essential to recognize that each infant is a unique individual with particular strengths, needs and interests. The pattern of growth for each infant is unique. All children pass through the same stages in the same order but at different rates and at different ages. Development is not a steady progression. At times there will be rapid development in one area and very slow development in another.

As infants grow and develop, our infant program and activities at Created 4 Me must change and develop also. One of the major responsibilities of the infant Educators is to be knowledgeable about their development. These Educators must recognize the stage each infant has reached in each of the areas of development and understand what the next stage will be. In this way the program can be structured to provide the support that each infant requires.

At Created 4 Me we believe Primary Caregiver practices and having a Primary Caregiver arrangement in place is extremely important to children. Infants who have a consistent caregiver, who are attached to their caregiver and who feel secure, respected and loved develop trust and self-esteem. This in turn, leads to long-term positive effects on the child’s development. Care must be taken to insure that infants are cared for by a consistent Educator who is responsive to their needs.

Attachment is the key component of a good daily program for infants. Attachment is the bond of trust and caring that develops between an infant and the parent or caregiver. Infants generally exhibit certain behaviours around adults, such as making eye contact, scanning the adult’s face, smiling or crying. These elicit caring responses in the adults around them. Attachment with the parent (and the caregiver) is necessary to build trust and to ensure that the child feels safe in the big world around them. Optimal child care practice for infants cannot happen without attachment. While the parent will always be the person to whom the infant has his/her primary attachment, infants have the ability to form a similar bond with a variety of adults without affecting the parent-child bond.

The Created 4 Me Primary and Secondary caregivers will never take the place of the parent and should not attempt to do so. These Educators have the responsibility of establishing a bond that is secondary to that of the parent. Infants have a great need for consistency. This is how they feel safe and learn to trust the world around them. Inconsistency in the person providing the care from day to day is very disruptive for the infant who is trying to attach to the caregiver. We believe the infant needs to be able to recognize the sight, sound, smell and feel of the person providing the care before the infant can trust that person. Trust is essential for the emotional, social and intellectual development of an infant. In order to help the infants in our program form an attachment to our Educators, a Primary and Secondary caregiver system is in place.

In a primary caregiver system an ECE is responsible for the same infant(s) every day. Care giving is primary in two senses.

1. The Educator has primary responsibility for an infant.

The infant has one or two educators who:

•      holds, feeds and changes the infant and makes every effort to get to know the infant and let the infant get to know them.

•      provides the majority of the care

•      records and interprets observations on that infant are kept in the administrative office in a locked filing cabinet.

•       records the daily summaries of the infant’s feeding, sleeping and elimination patterns

•      communicates with that infant’s parents when the content is of a serious and/or confidential nature

2. The Educator provides care at prime times

The care is primary in the sense that prime times are the responsibility of the primary caregiver.

Prime times include:

  • the personal care of the infant
  •  going to sleep and waking up
  • communication with the parents/guardians of the infant

"Primary" does not mean exclusive. The Educator and infant are not an isolated unit in the infant room. They are part of a social group. Other Educators will interact and provide care for the infant on occasion and should feel free to communicate with all parents who have infants in the room. However, every infant will have an Educator in the room who has the primary responsibility for his/her care. It is the primary caregiver’s job to empower parents and infants by translating their individual concerns and needs into action.

Routine Times

Much of the “program” for young infants is made up of the care giving routines of the day; feeding, changing and sleeping. The day is organized so the infants can be tended to according to their individual schedules. For the younger infants especially, the routine times provide the opportunities for our educators to build the infant’s trust in the educator and for the educator to provide learning opportunities for the infant. One of the main goals during times when the infant’s physical needs are being met is to perform these tasks in ways that promote the infant’s development in areas such as language, emotional and social development.

Young infants must be held while being bottle-fed. Under no circumstances will a baby bottle be propped no matter how close by the educator may be. The infant needs to have the security of the human contact and the totally focused attention that results from feeding an infant “in arms”. Older infants may prefer to hold the bottle themselves and will be allowed to do so. The infant’s sleeping and eating patterns will be reflective of the routines at home and of the individual infant’s needs. All infants will not be on the same schedule. Infants, in particular, at Created 4 Me Early Learning Centre Inc. must have their needs met on their own timetable rather than expected to fit into a schedule for the group.

 

Arrival and Departure

In the infant program at Created 4 Me, every effort is made to ensure that the child is met by the primary caregiver (or the secondary caregiver who is familiar with the child). Parents must be encouraged to complete their portion of the daily report and to chat with the staff about what the infant has experienced since they were last in the centre. At departure time parents must be encouraged to read the daily report so that they will know about the care provided during the time at the centre. This exchange of information is a necessity for appropriate care to be provided for that infant during the day.

Snack/Meal Times

Children under age twelve months of age must be fed according to their own schedule as determined in consultation with their parent/guardian. As children reach the one to two year mark and are able to sit unaided, they are likely beginning to eat lunch and snacks at routine times of the day that match the routines of other young toddlers. At this time they will greatly benefit from group mealtimes and snack times.

In addition to receiving nutritious foods and learning about hygiene, nutrition and appropriate behavior at the table, mealtimes and snack times provide more opportunities for C4M educators and infants to develop their relationships with each other. All of these are most easily done in an atmosphere that is relaxing and enjoyable. To enable the educators to help older infants self-feed and to promote acceptable behavior at the table, we have a four seated table that the infants sit in. At meals times an educator will sit and eat a child-size portion with the older infants. The Educator provides a role model for appropriate behavior such as making conversation at the table and how to use the napkin. S/he also guides behavior such as, "Take one sandwich for now. If you are still hungry when you are done you can have another." and "Jimmy is asking you to pass him the plate of orange slices.

 

 

Nap/Quiet Time

In the infant program at Created 4 Me, we do not have a separate sleep room. Children in our child care centers must be supervised at all times and this includes infants both awake and asleep. As the infants waken, they have quiet play activities available to them to ease the transition from sleep to play before moving into the next part of the schedule such as snack or outdoor play. Infants in our care will be allowed to wake on their own, when they are ready. Where a parent requests that the infant be wakened, the matter should be discussed and a mutually agreed upon arrangement reached. The best interest of the child should be the deciding factor. When this must occur children will be wakened gently and gradually integrated into the activity in the home room.

All children learn through play. Young infants explore the world with their hands and their mouths, older infants creep, crawl and toddle to the action. Through this exploration of the world they develop their independence, self-esteem, their language, their intellect and their social skills. When there are infants of different developmental stages sharing the same play space, flexibility is a necessity. The layout and the program must change and evolve to meet the needs of the particular age range of infants currently being cared for. The primary and secondary caregivers will spend much of his/her time on the floor with the infants as they play.

Infants develop new skills every day. They explore and learn about their world through their senses and emerging motor skills. They are born curious and ready to learn. In the Created 4 Me Infant room we create infant learning environments to provide experiences that respond to infants’ natural curiosity and emerging skills. There are multiple sources of developmentally appropriate stimulation in the room. Learning and development for infants includes their total experience within the learning environment. It is critical that our learning environment is physically safe and clean so that infants can safely explore and interact with the other children, adults and materials in the room. The environment is designed to be warm, safe, inviting, and challenging space for the various ages of infants, and we continue to modify the space as each infant grows. Educators keep track of developmental changes and set appropriate goals for each child - goals that serve as guidelines in planning activities and deciding what materials to offer for the group and individual child.

Your baby will learn about his/her environment through exploration. Infants learn at their own paces by touching, tasting and vocalizing, and through their own play. Educators help to facilitate play by giving each infant the opportunity to be in control of his or her own experiences and make discoveries on their own. Therefore the infant environment is set-up to encourage exploration and discovery that is both planned and spontaneous. Planning learning experiences around themes is not necessary for infants however in our infant room we accentuate the children’s day with art, sensory, and other activities that have a common theme. Infants do not need their environment to be arranged by learning centers, however, the learning environment includes symbolic, sensory, literacy, curiosity, movement, music, and outdoor experiences. The room is designed with objects that hang for visual stimulation, textures and colors throughout, and small manipulative toys that even the youngest of infants can grasp and mouth. As the infants become mobile and are able to crawl and pull up, they begin to use pull-up and climbing structures, as well as tunnels to crawl through, mirrors to look in, and many kinds of toys that can be pushed, pulled, opened and closed. Walks and outdoor experiences are provided on a daily basis, weather permitting.

Infants benefit most from individualized care and should be allowed to follow their own schedule for eating, sleeping and playing. Infants are dependent on close, nurturing relationships as the source of positive physical, social, emotional and cognitive growth. Infants learn about their world by observing adult reactions.  They develop best when they are assured of having a trusted caregiver who can read their cues and respond to their needs. We understand child development and how infants learn and are able to read and respond to their needs and behavior. 

Language development is particularly crucial during the infant period. We provide many opportunities for infants to engage in meaningful dialogue.  We acknowledge and encourage the infants’ forms of communication.  We actively use and teach American Sign Language with the infants.  Baby sign gives the non-verbal child the ability to communicate and helps to alleviate frustration while they are gaining their verbal skills.

This includes setting up an age appropriate learning environment and providing appropriate levels of stimulation for each infant. Parents may sometimes worry that if their infant becomes attached to an Educator that it will somehow weaken the attachment that they have as a parent with the infant. Nothing could be further from the truth. A responsive Educator will reassure the parent that the parent-child attachment is the strongest attachment, that without that parent-child attachment the child would find it difficult, if not impossible, to thrive in a child care environment. The Educator-infant attachment is a necessary secondary attachment. Infants who have consistent care givers, who are attached to their care givers, and who feel secure and respected develop trust and self-esteem, leading to long-term positive outcomes for the infant. Infants must be provided with care by a consistent person who is responsive to the needs of the infant.

From a foundation of trust and security, the caregivers at Created 4 Me encourage independence and experimentation. By arousing curiosity and interest, infants are motivated to engage in new challenges. These experiences stimulate the development of the ''whole'' child. We value the need for each infant's schedule to remain consistent with their schedule at home and try our best to accommodate this need. We follow the individual schedules of each child for sleeping and eating, although breakfast, lunch, and snacks are incorporated into our flexible daily schedule so that babies have the opportunity to socialize with one another. As the year progresses, new finger foods are introduced, and Educators help babies learn to drink from cups.

We strive to satisfy each infant's need for a close physical and emotional attachment. As we foster this bond, we hope to become an extension of the family unit, working cooperatively to support both family and child. Connections between home and center practices are established to maintain consistency in care and to provide parent support. Infants are given love, emotional support, and affection throughout the day.

In addition to meeting all direct care needs, staff aim to provide a warm, nurturing environment and as many one-to-one interactions as possible. Both diapering and feeding times provide additional opportunities for Educators to give individual attention to each child. The changing table is an inviting place, with hanging toys that can be played with. Infant and Educators can exchange smiles, gurgles, and giggles while a diaper is changed. At bottle time, infants are very relaxed while sitting in an educators lap in a cozy rocking chair.

During nap time the room is darkened with cloth fabric, music plays continuously; each child has his or her own crib with sheets, blankets, and a soft toy from home to make them feel secure. Educators help infants go to sleep with rocking or back rubs. Infants are never left unsupervised or unattended while in our care.

The early childhood program environments at Created 4 Me look and feel welcoming for all children and reflect the diverse world in which we live. In addition to being bright, colorful, safe and clean, it includes children’s artwork and shows the diversity of the world through the supply of age-appropriate toys, dolls, books, magazines, pictures and musical instruments. Because what is in the environment, as well as what is absent, provides children with essential information about who and what is important, every effort is made to create a setting that is rich in possibilities for exploring diversity.

By creating a learning environment that respects diversity sets the scene for fostering childrens positive self-concept and attitudes. Such an environment assists children in developing positive ideas about themselves and others, creates the conditions under which children initiate conversations about differences, and provides the setting for introducing activities about differences and creating fair and inclusive communities.

 

The Environment at Created 4 Me provides opportunities to explore cultural diversity include baskets, pillows, mobiles, made from a variety of materials, puppets, rugs, wall hangings, eating and cooking utensils, recordings of music in many languages and other objects that reflect the world’s cultures. The Children can explore diversity in family structure, gender roles, and abilities if their environment contains materials such as dolls, books, dress-up clothes, puzzles, manipulatives, and dramatic play materials that depict a  variety of family structures, gender roles, and people with a variety of disabilities.

 

Created 4 Me Early Learning Centre Inc. incorporates the following into our infant and other programs and environment to create an inclusive, diverse setting:

 

·        images of the children and their families and/or caregivers as well as images of staff

·        images that accurately reflect people’s current daily lives in Canada, including home, work and recreation

·        images of children and adults that represent all groups in the children’s community

·        images of all the cultural groups across Canada and in the world

·        images that show people of various cultural groups and ages engaged in both similar and different activities

·        images that reflect diversity in gender roles

·        images that show diversity in family styles and configurations

·        images that depict diversity of abilities and body types  

·        images of employees upon entering our facility

·        our snack menu reflects a variety of enriching ethnic foods (such as Matza crackers, Quesadillas, & Bannock)

 

 

The language we use in the infant room and in other interactions with the children is very important. For example, we use terms such as people of color, people with disabilities as opposed to disabled people, and wheelchair-users as opposed to wheelchair-bound. Created 4 Me Educators use language such as caregiver, a grown-up in your home, or the person in charge, rather than just using the term parents. We use inclusive language not only to promote diversity, but also as an educational tool.

Educators work extensively with each family to meet the individual needs of their infant in order to provide a positive and rewarding childcare experience!