The Context of Child Care for Toddlers: The “Experience Expectable Environment”
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An experience expectable environment in child care classrooms is one in which teachers consistently provide positive and nurturing interactions within daily routines and activities to enhance children’s learning. Growing numbers of children are being enrolled in child care at earlier ages and staying for longer periods of time each day which is heightening the need to attend to the context of child care for very young children. Several large scale studies in social policy, biology, and human development have confirmed the links between children’s early experiences and later outcomes, and recent brain research and research in child care classrooms has highlighted the importance of these consistent, responsive, and respectful patterns of interaction, especially for very young children’s development. Yet, examination of the quality of child care has indicated interactions in these classrooms that may not support optimal development and/or that could be considered harmful. Given toddlers’ need for consistent and nurturing care, coupled with the current substandard quality of care for very young children, discussing the context of child care in terms of an experience expectable environment provides a perspective to understand the context of toddler child care. This perspective underscores the connections of routines and interactions to children’s development of neural pathways, thus setting the foundation for optimizing learning and development.
KeywordsToddler Child care Teacher preparation Classroom quality Responsive interactions
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