Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 2: Program Activities for Healthy Development

2.1 Program of Developmental Activities

2.1.2 Program Activities for Infants and Toddlers from Three Months to Less Than Thirty-Six Months Interactions with Infants and Toddlers

Caregivers/teachers should provide consistent, continuous and inviting opportunities to talk, listen to, and otherwise interact with young infants throughout the day (indoors and outdoors) including feeding, changing, playing with, and cuddling them.
Richness of language increases by nurturing it through verbal interactions between the child and adults and peers. Adults’ speech is one of the main channels through which children learn about themselves, others, and the world in which they live. While adults speaking to children teach the children facts, the social and emotional communications and the atmosphere of the exchange are equally important. Reciprocity of expression, response, the initiation and enrichment of dialogue are hallmarks of the social function and significance of the conversations (2-5). Infants and toddlers learn through meaningful relationships and interaction with consistent adults and peers.

The future development of the child depends on his/her command of language (1). Richness of language increases as it is nurtured by verbal interactions of the child with adults and peers. Basic communication with parents/guardians and children requires an ability to speak their language. A language-rich environment and warm, responsive interactions between staff and children are among the elements that produce positive impacts (6).

Live, real-time interaction with caregivers/teachers is preferred. For example, caregivers/teachers naming objects in the indoor and outdoor learning/play environment or singing rhymes to all children supports language development. Children’s stories and poems presented on recordings with a fixed speed for sing-along can actually interfere with a child’s ability to participate in the singing or recitation. With fixed-speed activities, the pace may be too fast for some children, and the activity may have to be repeated for some children or the caregiver/teacher will need to try a different method for learning.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Screen Time/Digital Media Use
  1. Moerk, E. L. 2000. The guided acquisition of first language skills. Advances Applied Dev Psychol 20:248.
  2. Baron, N., L. W. Schrank. 1997. Children learning language: How adults can help. Lake Zurich, Ill: Learning Seed.
  3. Szanton, E. S., ed. 1997. Creating child-centered programs for infants and toddlers, birth to 3 year olds, step by step: A Program for children and families. New York: Children’s Resources International.
  4. Kontos, S., A. Wilcox-Herzog. 1997. Teachers’ interactions with children: Why are they so important? Young Child 52:4-12.
  5. Snow, C. E., M. S. Burns, P. Griffin. 1999. Language and literacy environments in preschools. ERIC Digest (January).
  6. National Forum on Early Childhood Program Evaluation, National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. 2007. A science-based framework for early childhood policy: Using evidence to improve outcomes in learning, behavior, and health for vulnerable children. Cambridge, MA: Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University.