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x   Foreword COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL or elaborating threads of connection between different learning encounters. Yet such a viewpoint clearly underestimates children’s search for meaning and their drive to discover the dimensions and relations of complex situations, as Malaguzzi describes in the quotation on the previous page. Who exactly are “toddlers and twos” anyway? Are they babies? Or are they preschoolers? In fact, there is great professional uncertainty about whether toddler­hood is a distinct phase of the life cycle, and this uncertainty bears on why teachers may disagree on how best to support their learning. From a develop­ ment standpoint, the period bridging infancy and early childhood (between about twelve and thirty-six months of age) is seen as a time of rapid growth and change, yet no consensus exists among the experts about when toddlerhood begins and ends or even about whether it is a full-fledged phase, much less a stage, of the life cycle. Psychologists define a stage as a distinct time of development bounded by fundamental reorganizations in cognitive and social-emotional capacities and characterized by a unique pattern of developmental issues, tasks, and achieve­ ments. Toddlers and twos are children making their way between infancy and early childhood, but they look more like a mix of both stages than something categorically distinct from them. Thus, some child development textbook authors divide their material on childhood into three major periods: infancy, early child­ hood, and middle childhood. In contrast, others treat infancy and toddler­hood as two separate periods prior to early childhood. When authors blend toddlerhood into infancy, they tend to place the boundary age marking the transition to early childhood at twenty-four months. But when they treat toddlerhood as a separate period, they tend to move the boundary age forward to the middle or end of the third year, at thirty or thirty-six months. Whichever approach they take, psycholo­ gists tend to describe certain kinds of tasks as salient to children in their second and third years of life: achieving autonomy and independence, forming a self- concept, mastering impulses and regulating emotions, and becoming prosocial and oriented to rules and standards of the community. Todd Wanerman, thankfully, does not bother with this academic controversy but shows us through his examples and his sequence of chapters that he inti­ mately understands the highly individualized ways that children face their life tasks. For example, children are becoming self-reliant and concentrated in their play, or they are overcoming fears of messy materials or dangerous-seeming stim­ uli. Toddlers also grow and change in their approach to materials from age one to age three, in a way captured by Wanerman’s shorthand phrase “from hand­ prints to hypotheses.” I found it very helpful to think about how projects focused on younger toddlers involve more open-ended sensory exploration of how their hands and bodies interact with the world, while projects focused on older toddlers involve more cognitive abstraction and purpose to probe or represent concepts COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL