~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning


Year in and year out I marvel that as winter ends and spring blooms, so many children experience a developmental burst. It might be physical, mental and/or emotion.

With active toddlers, that can make for a lot of challenges, with all the changes growth entails for this age range. We do a lot of talking about mommy going to work, daddy is at work and their work is to come here to play and grow. This post is about looking at a toddler’s work/job.

In one word their work is developing AUTONOMY. Now what does that mean as we observe, plan and work with toddlers in our care?


  • are discovering they have the ability to really move – two-legged locomotion
  • are ‘into everything’ ( I like to think of this as beginning to figure out how things work together)
  • are exploring their independence and having great fun doing it
  • are truly stubborn – ME, MINE, MY
  • love using the word ‘NO’ – again their independence
  • are easily frustrated (I think about this as not understanding they are only toddlers. They think they can do what older children can, but they still cannot in all instances.)
  • love to build, knock down, put in, take out…..
  • imitate, imitate, imitate
  • language is expanding in expressing feelings, ideas, pretend play, showing excitement
  • are very active, easily excited and the attention span is still fairly short

For me it’s important to keep a good variety of building toys, open spaces for movement, and easily reached toys that model real life available for this age group. I also try to find helping times for these little hands within our daily routine, like: getting out the snack cups, helping set the lunch table, bringing me the empty snack basket, getting their own shoes for going outside and of course picking up toys they played with.

For me it is really important to be having daily conversations with parents on what they are experiencing at home; what they are finding to be successful, unsuccessful; eating and sleeping patterns; being flexible with bringing that “ME” item from home; and what I’m seeing here with interaction with peers, their environment and me. When we understand what is happening developmentally at this age point and we work as a team the experience for all of us can be so incredible.

The toddler is successful at this job and moves on to being a Preschooler………


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