At the core of our infant program, we rely on certain beliefs to guide our teaching. We believe in building a trusting relationship with each child and family; providing responsive, individualized care; and promoting a healthy and safe environment for each child to learn and grow. Our infant teachers are certified in Early Childhood Education in addition to a minimum requirement of either an Associate's or a Bachelor's degree. We require that teachers come into our classrooms with experience and background working with infants in order to provide a comprehensive and well rounded learning experience. Family Flex offers an infant program for children ranging in age from 10 weeks to 18 months. There are three classrooms in the infant program that cater to the unique age and development of each child. The youngest classroom provides a more individualized schedule for each child and the older infant classrooms transition to a more group oriented schedule once a child is ready. We rely on a research driven assessment called Teaching Strategies GOLD (www.teachingstrategies.com) to guide our decisions for experiences and routines in the classroom.
The Learning Environment: The infant classrooms maintain low ratios and small classroom sizes in order to promote a conducive learning environment. For younger infants, we aim to keep a 3:1 ratio, and for older infants, a 4:1 ratio. Each room is set up with different areas to play, including a “dress-up” area, a soft block and building space, a place for music and movement, a library with books and cozy items, an active area to play and climb, and an place for the class to enjoy family style meal times. We strive to create a community feel in each of our infant classrooms by having pictures of children and families, toys that are appropriate, and child created artwork.
Teachers use routines and experiences to guide learning in the classroom. We use routines as an opportunity to foster a trusting relationship with the child. Through hello's and goodbyes, toileting/diapering, dressing, feeding, and helping each child go down for a nap, teachers are able to have positive one-on-one interactions that help to create a secure base for children so that they can develop curiosity and competence. Experiences offer opportunities for children to connect with the world through senses, whether it be enjoying a storybook, building with blocks, dabbling in art, listening and dancing to music, or playing with sand and water. We also try to experience the world outside our classroom by playing on our playground, going on walks in our buggies, and playing in our "Jungle" or multi-purpose room.
What Children Learn: The Creative Curriculum works through four areas of development while placing an emphasis on meeting the individual needs of each infant. Teachers use the following developmental areas to plan, guide, and assess children's learning and development. We use authentic assessments to measure progress and share it with parents at each parent teacher conference, which are held quarterly. Each child has a portfolio which tracks their progress throughout the year. We keep picture samples, work samples, and any relevant notes related to a child's learning. These are shared with parents at each conference and then given to parents at the end of the year to keep as a memory of their child's early childhood years.