Having a well-planned and implemented social-studies approach that in-
cludes developmentally appropriate activities and interactions is one compo-
nent of high-quality infant-toddler programming. Use the activities in this book
to guide your planning for social-studies learning experiences. For example,
include music and musical instruments in the classroom from a variety of cul-
tures, especially those of the children’s families and home cultures. This specific
social-studies activity supports infants’ and toddlers’ development of a positive
sense of self, links them to their families and cultures, and provides opportunities
for social interactions.

Child Development
Child development theories or explanations of how development occurs in
young children are important considerations in the creation of high-quality
infant-toddler programming. Theories of development and how it happens are
often used in early childhood education to inform and determine how to care for,
teach, and interact with infants and toddlers in ways that support their learning
and development.

Understanding child development is critical to providing developmentally
appropriate learning experiences for all children. Knowing what an infant or
toddler can typically do at different stages and ages helps you plan social-studies
interactions and learning experiences that support and advance children’s devel-
opment. Although child development focuses on the whole child, we often talk
about it by domain or area. These domains are physical, social-emotional, com-
munication/language, cognitive, and approaches to learning. Child development
is predictable and occurs in a pattern. A typically developing infant first learns
to hold up his head, then to roll over, later to sit alone, and even later to crawl
and then walk. This illustrates a predictable pattern of physical development that
most babies will go through.

As an infant-toddler teacher, you have probably noticed that although de-
velopment is predictable and sequential, each child has her own individual rate
of development, temperament characteristics, and approaches to learning. In
any infant-toddler classroom, there is a broad range of individual developmental
differences in children who are the same age. This is because each child’s indi-
vidual heredity, environment, and temperament traits influence development.

Culture, child-rearing practices, and the values and goals of families and society
are another set of influences that affect children’s development. Because of this
variety of development, including and partnering with families is an important
Infant-Toddler Social Studies 3