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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Why Do Twos and Threes Need a Stimulating Curriculum? For twos and threes, a stimulating curriculum is the doorway to a lifelong love of learning. A stimulat- ing environment keeps their hands and bodies busy while their brains are making magnificent connec- tions. And on the flip side: a program that is not stimulating leads to boredom, aggression, and tears! What Constitutes a Stimulating Curriculum for Twos and Threes? Twos and threes need you to be a facilitator, a loving caretaker, and a partner in learning. They need you to plan a curriculum that balances safety and free exploration. Offer many opportunities for children to really experience and experiment with materi- als. Twos and threes need hands-on, sensory expe- riences to help them clearly understand new ideas and skills. They also need repetition, repetition, repetition! That is how they learn. Coming back to previous learning and then building onto it is key to mastery for this age group. You must introduce new concepts and skills in concrete ways that show value in their world in order to catch their interest. How Can We Help Twos and Threes Become Independent? We want young children to be inquisitive about their world. When we pique their curiosity and give them some freedom, we help them become motivated learners and keen problem solvers for a lifetime. The layout of your environment is key to fostering independence. First, make sure the classroom equipment is safe and appropriate for children of this age range (twenty-four to forty-two months). Twos and threes tend to run and climb more than preschoolers do, so you must plan for this. Second, when you design the environment and curriculum, create opportunities for success and independence. See that tasks and activities are developmentally appropriate so children can mas- ter them over time. Observe what works and what does not. introduction  3 How to Get Started How do we begin to develop, or add more depth to, our teaching practice as we work with two- and three-year-olds? As we recognize the importance of this amazing year in children’s lives, how do we tailor our programs to suit the unique needs of this age group? First we need to get to know the children within the group. We need to begin developing relation- ships with them—and with their families. We need to observe the children carefully and then begin to lay the foundation for the year by building a cur- riculum fit just to them. Teaching Twos and Threes carefully addresses program curriculum areas ap- propriate to children in this age group. When I was a new teacher, I found myself focus- ing on improving one curriculum area at a time, beginning with those I felt were weakest in my teaching practice. All along, I sought to find new ideas, and I tried various techniques to see what worked well and what did not. And as I recorded my ideas and suggestions in this book, I kept in mind that what works well differs for each of us, as does what works best for each program, as well as for each child. It is my hope that this book will be helpful and inspiring to teachers and caregivers of all experience levels. Chapters 1 and 2 of Teaching Twos and Threes aim to offer you a starting point for developing the ideas presented—or for developing new ideas. They offer a place to begin reflecting on—or to continue reflecting on—your teaching practice. They are de- signed to inspire you to think deeply about obser- vation and about getting to know the children, as well as to understand and define the how, the what, and the why of curriculum planning for this age group. They suggest ideas for brainstorming and a different perspective on how to understand and tackle challenging behaviors and situations not uncommon to a twos-and-threes classroom. When teachers and caregivers strive to find positive solu- tions to challenges, as you know, they create their own learning moments and personal development opportunities. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL