Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Toddler Boundaries

I have worked with two year olds off and on for 20 years. I am educated on what is developmentally appropriate and what works with individual children. Two year olds are so much fun to work with. One challenging thing when you have a whole class to teach is how to keep the kids focused long enough for them to learn a new skill or complete a task. For new teachers just starting out this can be so frustrating. Sometimes they need to be reminded that these little whirlwinds have only been on the planet for two years. Stopping and looking at the world through their eyes makes the world of difference. I have found that the simple task of providing containers such as bowls or buckets or even a paper plate can help a toddler focus. Parts of a whole toys like puzzle pieces or blocks to a set work well with this strategy. By encouraging the children to slow down and have a target area to place their pieces in they tend to not throw small toys in boredom or frustration. Even if the task is beyond them developmentally they can still transfer objects which is a basic skill that even older infants can do and enjoy doing. This helps the children build confidence and have fun as they master activities. I have watched children take puzzles and dump them upside down repeatedly basically because it is fun. But, in a classroom situation this is usually frowned upon. It can even escalate into throwing and nonfunctional play. It can also make for a frustrated teacher. By simply offering a container to put loose pieces in solves these problems. I use this strategy during art time also. Instead of placing a large container of crayons on the table for children to share or offering a few crayons to each child to have on the table in front of them I put crayons in a cup. This gives the children ownership over their crayons. I have found that crayons stop being thrown. They aren't fisted all in one hand so functional coloring is out of the question. Boundaries are given to the activity. The crayons stay in the cup till you choose one. The children have their own cup so the territorial toddler instinct is satisfied. And the teacher is happy that the class seems to be more focused. Appropriate boundaries gives us all structure that then help us achieve our goals.

Stay between the lines and your writing will stay in line....

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