Get Adobe Flash player
COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Here, I’ll simply say this: high-quality early care programs apply universal de- sign to their settings. Universal design for learning (UDL) is a concept devel- oped by the Center for Applied Special Technology. Its importance to early edu- cation programs lies in its foundational premises: children learn in different ways, and learning environments must be designed to accommodate all chil- dren, including those with special needs and/or disabilities. What does this mean, exactly? Using UDL means that your indoor and out- door settings allow children to learn from more than one source. Children learn through their senses and by hav- ing multiple experiences in their envi- ronment. For example, children have different learning experiences when they play in the block and dramatic play areas. An environment created with UDL can be adapted to meet the needs of all children. Tables and chairs are the correct size and height for the age group and can be easily accessed by all children. The floor surfaces are comfortable for infants and toddlers to roll on, crawl on, and move across with ease. Well-designed small-group spaces and center areas are inviting; they encour- age adults and children to work together on projects, build friendships, talk to each other, and play without unwelcome interruptions. Learning Domains Children develop and learn best in settings that are developmentally and age ap- propriate. As a responsive caregiver, you help children move toward skills in the four chief learning domains primarily through play. I discuss each learning domain briefly here; much more about them can be found in Foundations of Responsive Caregiving: Infants, Toddlers, and Twos. Collectively, the play activities in this book support all of these areas of development; I’ve noted which ones are primary at the beginning of each activity. Social-Emotional Development Understanding oneself and others is what we call social-emotional development. Such understanding is essential to young children’s well-being. They learn social and emo- tional skills simultaneously, and they learn them through their relationships with adults and peers. As a responsive caregiver, you help children develop a healthy sense of self, personal identity, positive relationships with adults and other children, self- regulation, empathy, caring for others, and sharing. That’s a lot! COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Setting the Stage for Activities 7