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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL master new skills with some effort. For example, a toddler may play initially with a wooden puzzle that has four pieces, each with a giant knob on it. You might then offer him a more challenging puzzle that lacks knobs, so he must grab and lift the puzzle pieces with his fingers. As the child masters these skills, you continue to offer him greater complexity, greater challenges—perhaps a puzzle with more pieces. In other words, you plan rich, stimulating experiences so children can explore and learn at their own developmental pace. You also follow children’s interests so their activities remain child directed. Your focus is on encouraging infants, toddlers, and twos to discover and explore their world freely. You offer them activities that stimulate growth across the social- emotional, physical, cognitive, and language development domains. (My companion book, Activities for Responsive Caregiving: Infants, Toddlers, and Twos, provides 101 play-based activities you can use in your program to foster such growth.) Here, in checklist form, are the essential qualities of responsive caregivers: ✔ ✔ Caring ✔ ✔ Nurturing ✔ ✔ Knowledgeable ✔ ✔ Patient ✔ ✔ Reliable ✔ ✔ Consistent ✔ ✔ Flexible ✔ ✔ Humorous More and more children are spending the majority of their days (and some of their nights) in the care of adults other than family members, and they must receive qual- ity care. Children deserve to be cared for by knowledgeable, nurturing, caring, and responsive individuals. Such care can be provided in a variety of settings. One or another of these may suit them best. Types of Child Care There are two main types of licensed care for infants, toddlers, and twos: family child care and center-based care. Whatever the organizational model, child care programs need adults committed to quality care. In the highest-quality programs, caregivers implement known best practices: • Licensed family child care homes Licensing requirements for family child care vary from state to state. Usually in-home providers can care for only a small group of children at a time. Family child care offers families flexible hours and is usually the most affordable. Children are cared for in homey set- tings where they can interact and learn together. Depending on the number of children in the home, care may be provided by one adult or by an adult and 8 Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL