How much difference can your baby's first teacher make? A program that teaches infants how to learn can help your child to build basic skills and develop new abilities. But not all programs are the same. Before you choose a new pre preschool for your family, take a look at what you need to know about infants, learning, and early childhood educators.
The Educator Should Have Knowledge of Infant Care and Development
Your child's first teacher should have more than just experience working with preschoolers or hold more than a basic early childhood degree. Not only do infant teachers need general developmental knowledge, they also need to know how to care for and support learning in children 12-months and under.
The more experience the teacher has working with infants, the better able they are to create lesson plans or activities that can help your child learn and grow in a developmentally appropriate way for their age. An early childhood educator with expertise in the infant years will know how to support your child's growth/learning, can set reasonable expectations, and should have the ability to create a supportive, caring, and educationally stimulating classroom environment.
The Educator Should Have Patience and Focus
As a parent, you understand the challenges infants can pose. Along with knowledge of infant development, instructional practices, and early education, your child's first teacher also needs to have patience.
Older children can follow basic directions and respond to adults verbally. But your infant isn't developmentally ready for this type of communication yet. When your baby feels frustrated, sad, angry, or even confused, it's likely they'll cry. Without patience and focus, an infant teacher can't provide the support your baby needs.
The Educator Should Have Enough Support
The best infant educator can't manage an entire classroom of babies by themselves. The more infants there are in one room, the more adult assistance is needed. According to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families Office of Child Care, the child-to-teacher ratio for infant rooms shouldn't exceed three to four babies per trained adult. This means if they are eight infants in your child's classroom, the primary teacher should have at least one other qualified adult assistant.
Support staff or extra teachers can help the main early childhood educator to care for, supervise, and educate every infant equally. If you're not sure how many infants are in your child's class or how many teachers/assistants the program employs, talk to the director. A licensed child care center should follow the three to four infants per one adult ratio. Keep these tips in mind when looking for a program teaching infants how to learn near you.