Infant (3wks- walking well)
Our infant program is based on intimate relationships and a high staff:child ratio (2:1). Children’s needs are met attentively and on demand. We use our knowledge of their typical schedules to be prepared to meet their needs as soon as they communicate them. Waiting for them to “ask” creates a dialogue between adults and children and creates the beginning of empowering children’s voices.
Our babies get talked to and sung to (in English and Spanish), held for bottles, lots of loving eye contact, appropriate touch, floor time, materials to explore cleaned regularly enough to be mouthed with abandon. Watching them explore each other with so much recognition and giggling is especially inspiring because you see these tiny people building social connections.
Our space is divided into spaces for eating and sleeping, and another for creating, crawling, and exploring, this way we can adapt to each child’s schedule, while minimally disrupting the others. The movement space has padded floors for all the tumbles of learning to move. The back space is part greenhouse, for views of the tree filled back yard and natural light. Weather permitted the kids get out for a stroll around the neighborhood at least once a day.
Toddlers (12-24 months)
Toddlers at Little Seeds have the schedule and predictably they need to feel safe, and the trust and creativity they need to explore and learn. Toddlers need a lot of redirection even in our very safe space, setting clear, consistent, compassionate limits set kids up to succeed. They still have close relationships with attentive staff, but eat together family style meals supplied by the program (nutritional and attentive to allergies), and nap in the middle of the day, and walk our neighborhood outings.
Their classroom takes up the whole second floor of our brownstone, and enjoys big windows and high ceilings. There’s a cuddly soft corner for books, lots of props for dramatic play, daily exposure to art, playdough, clay, water, and sand. Blocks to build with, cars to drive, soft blocks to build up and knock down, plenty of things to dump and fill, and a play kitchen for cooking up rich language and social opportunities.
Twos and Threes
Our Little Seeds Sprouts grow into more independence. While still receiving excellent attentive care and supervisions, they participate more actively in songs and stories, learn to wash their own hands, pour their own water, drink from a real cup, set up and clean up their spaces.
The materials are still play based and largely open ended, but their puzzles have more pieces, they can build tracks for their trains, take turns pretending to cook, add words and cooperation to their games, try things they might not have thought of because they saw a friend do it first.
Pre-academic skills are woven throughout their day, counting pretzels they want for snack, or how many tea cups the need for the tea party, learning to ask questions, document observations, and make hypotheses. They are measuring and cooking and planting, hatching beatles and butterflies and feeding the fish. We watch how their motor skills develop using manipulatives, and art, build attention span by feeding their inherent curiosity, and recording their words functionally around the classroom to begin a sight word vocabulary. While we enrich the play with numbers and letters, we are not drilling them, or forcing the material through rote methods. Our goal is to connect the skills children will learn in more formal elementary school lessons with their natural curiosity.
Social interaction takes a larger and larger role in play for this group. We scaffold developing relationships through modeling, and really thoughtful conflict resolution. We always try to understand underlying causes of behavior and help kids find a better way to solve their problems or communicate frustration. Our limit setting is not punitive, no shame, no blame, no yelling or isolating.
Our Sprouts get to more of the neighborhood, and take occasional field trips around Brooklyn.