Words From an Infant Teacher

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Written by Laura Saunders - a New Shoots Teacher

The question I’ve been asked multiple times, “but, how do you TEACH babies?” 

It’s evident that many people don’t understand HOW you can teach a baby. Like, what do you teach them? They don’t read or write, many children under one don’t even talk! We are obviously just babysitters attending to the needs of our most vulnerable, needy citizens, right? Wrong!

This is what I see, through the eyes of an infant teacher:

I see a unique person, small in stature but large in personality; selective with her own preferences, cues and routines. Strong in the knowledge of his feelings and needs.

I see an equal, often underestimated by those who are meant to know better. I see a child who is naturally guarded, sceptical of those who have not yet earned her trust. I see a human being who like us, thrives with love and respect. 

I see leaders, waiting to take charge of their own growth and learning journey. A scientist who is ready to challenge his own methods. Waiting for the perfect opportunity to test his theories, without being interrupted or having it done for him. Finally, I see a capable, competent learner who becomes empowered by making their own choices and discoveries.

Until adults believe in an infant’s abilities and we start giving young children the credit and respect they deserve, we aren’t allowing them to reach their full potential. In New Zealand we unfortunately have a cultural belief that the education of young children doesn’t matter; in a nutshell, because play isn’t seen as learning. We really need to stop underestimating our children. 

As adults we are more likely to digest information about topics we find interesting. This exact reasoning is why play IS meaningful for children. Unlike studying, play engages children in an authentic manner. While having fun, children can feed their curiosity in a stress-free way. This allows them to bank new knowledge and extend on it, when they need and want to. Play provides children with challenges, which naturally progresses into mastering milestones; gaining strength and control of their bodies; making crucial brain connections and learning about the magical world around them, just to name a few! 

The first three years of a child’s life are the most important period for brain development. The interactions, experiences and environment the child participates in during this time, will form the foundation of her brain. This foundation will be responsible for how the brain develops life-long skills. Some examples include, social and cultural awareness; critical thinking; communication; adaptability and relationship building.

The optimal arrangement is for children to spend most of their time (during this momentous stage) with their most prominent attachment, usually that is with a parent/caregiver. The reason being, when a child feels safe and secure they will be comfortable in their surroundings, making learning possible. For many working households this is not an option; in this situation the next best thing is finding a quality early learning centre. 

From an early childhood teacher to a parent; we are not just babysitters. Yes, we love and care for your children. Yes, we have fun, laugh and play BUT we are passionate and experienced educators who understand infant development. We are in tune with your child and are constantly assessing how our actions and interactions will support your baby throughout the day and in the future. 

No, infants won’t remember the time they spend in their early learning centre. However, the experiences, interactions and environment they are in, will shape who they become as a person. What is more influential to teach than that?

Written by Laura Saunders - a New Shoots Teacher


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