Erik Erikson was born June 15, 1902 in Frankfurt, Germany. His interest in identity developed early based upon his own experiences in school. At his temple school the other children teased him for being Nordic because he was tall, blonde, and blue-eyed. At grammar school he was rejected because of his Jewish background. Thus having such a profound background led Erikson to study and focus on psychoanalysis. He utilized the knowledge he gained of cultural, environment, and social influences to further develop his psychoanalytic theory. In this paper we will discuss Erikson’s approach to the different needs and abilities of infants, toddlers, and preschool children and how the teacher’s role correlates to each individual group The first three years of life are critical to a child’s healthy development. Research indicates that more rapid brain development takes place during these years than at any other time of life. During this period, children are discovering who they are, how others respond to them, and in what ways they are increasingly competent. They are also learning how to relate to others, what it means to express the feelings, and whether they are loved. Their brains are being “wired” into patterns for emotional, social, physical, and cognitive development. For infants and toddlers, development occurs in all of these areas as they use their senses to gain a sense of security and identity and to explore the people and objects in their world. Too often, curriculum guides for infant/toddler programs emphasize intellectual stimulation above other critical areas of development. The availability of books promising to build superior minds are plentiful, as are toys designed to teach lessons and skills to even the youngest infant. But what is important in meeting the developmental needs of infants and toddlers can be found in the responsive relationships children build with the important adults in their lives. An appropriate curriculum for infants and toddlers focuses on what is most essential for their healthy growth and development: a caregiver/teacher who builds responsive relationships with children and families. The curriculum should provide the big picture of what high-quality programs look like and should provide a framework for making decisions based on knowledge of child development, observations of children, and thoughtful reflection. It should define where to lead each child and family and provide a guide as to how to get there. Caregivers/teachers are the foundation of the curriculum, and the framework empowers them as decision makers. Inside the triangle are all the steps involved in creating and maintaining a high-quality program. The caregiver/teacher creates a warm, inviting environment, ensures that children are safe, and follows practices that promote children’s physical and mental health and learning. Children receive positive guidance about behavior. Planning and evaluation are ongoing. The program is individualized based on what is learned about each child and family through observations and daily interactions. Much of the teacher’s day revolves around the five routines of (1) hellos and good-byes, (2) diapering and toileting, (3) eating and mealtimes, (4) sleeping and naptime, and (5) getting children dressed. Each of these routines is used as an opportunity to build relationships with children and promote learning. For infants and toddlers, it is during these routines that learning takes place and they begin to show trust in the world. Caregivers/teachers consider the stages, abilities, and interests of the children in their care and, taking their lead, plan appropriate activities and experiences. They arrange opportunities for children to imitate and pretend, play with toys, dabble in art, enjoy stories and books, taste and prepare food, explore sand and water, have fun with music and movement, and go outdoors. As children grow and expand their interests and gain greater ability...
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