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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Implementing Curriculum through the Planning/Observation/Individualization Cycle 29 children to make choices about which activities they will do and when, different ways in which they will use the materials, and with whom they will interact while they do so. Also, within this careful planning, a teacher provides some activities where she is the leader and initiator, not the child. The question to consider is: How much of children’s explorations should be based on their choices and how much should be based on teach- er suggestions or directions? Chapter 6 will focus on finding just the right balance between child-initiated and teacher-led activities in preschool and kindergarten classrooms so that children’s productive exploration of the classroom can take place without chaos or anarchy. Ways to plan for effec- tive teacher-led large- and small-group times will also be explored. Respectful, Caring Relationships with Children and Families When they begin their preschool or kindergarten experience, many children may be leaving their home environment for the first time. Warm relationships with caring adults at school will make this transition go more smoothly for children and enhance their overall experience. “From birth, a child’s relationships and interactions with adults are critical determinants of development and learning” (NAEYC 2009, 17). Teachers and children build strong, caring relationships through their daily interactions. Teachers get to know each child well. They express their faith in children’s potential and their willingness to help them to grow and learn. The classroom environment is set up to encourage children to be active explorers yet provides structure and guidance for their exploration. Being an explorer means being a risk taker. Young children will not take risks in a classroom unless they feel safe and trusting. They turn to the adults in the environment to provide that safety and to earn their trust. When they establish a caring relationship with those adults, they will ven- ture further, develop more independence, try new activities, and experi- ment with new peer relationships. Building relationships with children is an ongoing task involving observation, intuition, and knowledge of age-appropriate behaviors and skills. It also involves getting to know each child’s family. Asking questions about their cultural background, the members of the household, and the family’s dreams and goals for the child can help teachers work together with family members to support the child more fully. Establishing relation- ships with each child’s family members strengthens the relationship be- tween teachers and child. All adults in the child’s life are working together COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Robin: “It’s so important to build rapport with students, to reach children so that they get it.”