In today’s working society, parents need to rely on quality daycare for their children. However, finding a daycare that will strive to nurture each child’s unique qualities and create a work environment that encourages professionalism, growth, and diversity can be stressful for a parent because of the realization of how important this decision may be.
A daycare teacher must focus on many different areas to provide a developmentally appropriate curriculum for young children. As a teacher in a toddler room, my girlfriend Christine needs to communicate to her peers, children and parents on a daily basis both verbally and non-verbally.
As I entered the room, early this morning, I noticed five children, each of them doing his or her individual thing. About 70 percent of children, at this toddler age, have a vocabulary consisting of 50 to 250 words (Ginny Graves, 2003); however, only one of them spoke when I entered the room. Once the two females of the room noticed me, they immediately stopped what they were doing and looked at me in a disapproving way. One of the females hid behind the shelf, exposing only her part of her face, while the other turned her back to me to continue playing in the “dramatic play” sand box.
As for the three boys, they seemed content, as if I were not a foreign object in the room. The set of twins waved to me as if to say “Welcome to our room” while the third boy said “Hi” with a big smile. I previously met the set of male twins on a recent previous trip from a few days ago; therefore, the warm welcome from the boys was expected. As I said, “Hello friends” to the children of the room, Christine immediately said “Hello Pete”, along with a big wave and smile to give example to the children.
After taking a few steps into the room, I was asked to bend down so that I was at there level. Christine began to associate me with a picture of myself, which is posted on the closet door at the toddler’s eye level by saying, “Friends, we know Pete, he is in the picture”. Christine held the hands of the two females and brought them over to the picture and pointed to the picture of me and asked, “Do you see Pete in the picture”? One of the girls pointed reluctantly and the other bowed her head as in an uninterested manner.
A few minutes into the observation and it was snack time, well at least to one of the twins it was. The boy was pointing to where they keep the snacks so Christine bent down to his level and began to say “You are pointing to the cabinet, does this mean you want snack”? The boy grunted as if to say yes. Christine said, “Yes you are right, it is time for snack, but what do we do right before snack?” Once the rest of the children heard this, they began to jump up and down to show their appreciation of snack time. The children understood what had to be done by placing his or her hands in the air. “That’s right. We need to wash our hands first before we eat”.
Christine gave each toddler one direction at a time as to not overload them. She asked that they stand in a line in front of the sink so each of them could wash their hands, independently reinforcing with word labels as to how the child is washing his or her hands. She then played a game with them to find their appropriate place at the table. For each child, she asked them to sit in a colored chair that she announces for them to sit in, and then repeat back to her the color; this seating arrangement changes daily so that they learn their colors and as well as how to appropriately say them. This exercise helped them with speaking to others at a proper tone by not shouting.
Once they all sat, she gave each child the option for apple juice or cranberry juice. Only one boy was able to make the decision on his own using words while the other grunted and pointed. As one of the females finished her first sip, she said the word “cold”. Whenever a child uses telegraphic speech, it is highly recommended for the instructor to reiterate what was said by the child in complete form (Michael K. Meyerhoff, 2002). Christine said, “That’s right. The juice is cold. Can everyone say cold? What else is cold?”
The snack chosen by Christine was a common snack consisting of “Gold fish” and craisins. As the children began to eat the snack, there was one disapproving member of the bunch. This child immediately tossed her plate on the floor to show she was not satisfied with her snack. Christine immediately displayed her disapproval of this children’s action by saying to her “Please use your words. We do not throw the craisins on the floor. They are for eating”. This child acknowledge what she heard by trying to speak the word “Sorry”. Once the children were finished eating, they were notified that they would be going outside in 10 minutes. Again, the children showed their appreciation by jumping up and down in excitement.
Toddlers communicate with a combination of grunts and gestures as a preferred method of communicating. Understanding what the toddler is attempting to communicate, through these combinations, comes with time, dedication, understanding and patience.
;Spending just a short amount of time sheds new light as to why Christine needs a few minutes alone to herself when she arrives home. All day long she has keep all her non-verbal communication positive in front of the children for eight hours a day; this includes showing her pearly whites in the room even when she wakes up on the “wrong side of the bed” (Christine, personal communication, August 19, 2005).
Ginny Graves (2003, April). Parents magazine: Toddler Talk
Michael K. Meyerhoff (2002, April v20) Pediatrics for Parents:
Perspectives on Parenting: Communication and language acquisition skills in toddlers. P8(2)