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Social Studies

Self-awareness. It’s a skill we all strive for, and your toddler is beginning to search for his own meaning in this great, big world.

Circle 14

Later in life, he may find it via some of the world’s great philosophers, but today, he’s figuring out who he is and how he fits into life’s bigger picture with the people he loves and in the routines he’s familiar with.

Your 1-Year-Old

Watch him as he watches others. He’s beginning to notice the differences between himself and his playmates, as well as between himself and strangers. He knows what’s expected of him throughout the day, and he’s ready to participate in events as mundane as throwing his trash away to those as exciting as celebrating a classmate’s birthday!

  • I Know Who I Am!

    Whether it’s a birthday party, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or a Valentine’s Day party, your toddler loves a happy celebration! Gatherings like these give her the opportunity to witness culture in action — from unwrapping presents to blowing out candles to singing traditional songs. These events are the first building blocks that allow her to learn more about herself and how she fits into a larger group, including a family, a friendship or a belief system. And if a celebratory event includes cake? Well, that’s just an added bonus!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    The beautiful diverse nature of all the families and the community should be visible in the classroom. Look for family pictures on the walls, books and images that show different races, genders and families. Ask about how families participate in the classroom. A good program will welcome families at any time and in many ways.

  • I Can’t Wait Until You Get Home!

    He may not be interested in listening to a Presidential address just yet, but your toddler is establishing his awareness of government functions when he begins to understand and follow basic rules and guidelines. If his daily routine changes, notice how he adapts, or doesn’t adapt. These are great learning moments! And watch how he’s beginning to anticipate his favorite times of the day — whether it’s bath time or dinner or greeting someone he loves as he or she returns from work — your toddler is adept at expressing his joy!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Waiting is hard even for grown-ups. Teachers should minimize wait times and make what waiting is required fun. Look for teachers to sing songs and play games with the children as they move from play to lunch or other times of transition.

  • Take Me to the Park, Please!

    Do you keep her favorite crackers on the top shelf of the pantry? Does she sit on the kitchen floor and point longingly at them? That’s because your toddler understands and recognizes where her favorite things are stored. She might also communicate her desire to visit some of her favorite places by standing at the front door and saying, “Park! Car! Trees! Go!” And when you tell her it’s time to get in the car, on the bus, or in her stroller, she knows just what you mean!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Classrooms should be easy to navigate. Are the children able to find where the dolls and trucks are? Shelves should be open, labeled with pictures and words, and free of clutter. Teachers should use words to help children find and put away toys. “The dolls are in the kitchen area. Let’s put the truck on the shelf and go play with them.”

  • My Blankie Is My Bestie

    Have you ever left the house and left his beloved blankie behind? Your toddler will most likely communicate his distress with angst and tears. Why? Because his blankie is beloved! It feels like home, and it brings him great joy. He finds comfort in the familiar these days — from the warmth of your embrace to the smiling faces in his classroom.

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Have you witnessed children engaging in dramatic play that mimics daily activities or familiar roles (for example, a trip to the grocery store or a visit to the doctor)? Listen to whether teachers help build the communication skills that help children express their thoughts, feelings and actions.

  • I’m a Helper!

    Do you store her toys in a special box? Has she watched you put them away at the end of each day? Well, be prepared for her to become your little helper! She’s been watching you carry out your responsibilities day after day, and she’s ready to start contributing. Make it a game — see who can put the most toys away in the shortest amount of time. She’ll look forward to putting her toys away in the evening almost as much as she enjoys getting them out!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Your toddler’s teacher should model appropriate behavior for the classroom, including active listening and respectful dialogue. Notice, too, whether teachers respect children’s choices, within the boundaries of the classroom rules.

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