Play and love: key to babies' development
Developing warm and trusting relationships and providing countless opportunities to play and explore are key to providing a quality early learning environment for babies.
Babies brains double in size within their first year,
so the intentional learning opportunities they’re exposed to within early learning environments are constant, said Goodstart Eaton
Nursery Room Lead Educator Sharon White.
“Babies brains are like sponges absorbing everything around them, which is why we plan and implement learning opportunities throughout their day, based on our observations of their interests that day,” she said.
“For example, we might observe an older baby showing an interest in cars, so we would build on that and set up a car play area and then incorporate another activity like foam blocks that the children can stack together or with their cars,” she said.
“Matching the activities we set up with where the children are at in terms of their development is really important as well,” she said.
For example, in a nursery room that has babies from six weeks to 15 months, educators might set up a musical instrument activity.
“The older babies would explore the instruments and experiment with the noises they can make, while the younger babies might sit and watch and be encouraged with finger play,” Mrs White.
Helping babies reach milestones was another focus for educators, who are often just as excited as the children’s families when they say their first word or take their first step.
“We will work really closely with each child’s family, to find out what they are doing at home and what areas they would like us to focus on,” she said.
“So if a baby is learning to walk, we will set up an area where they can play and practice that skill; or we will use mealtime as an opportunity for that child to learn self-help skills like feeding themselves or holding their bottle.”
Messy play and other sensory activities were also a great way to get babies and young toddlers engaged, stimulating their brains, said Mrs White.
But most importantly, creating a strong relationship built on trust and connection, was a priority, she said.
“Babies learn better when they feel safe and secure, which is why we use a key educator approach, where every family has an educator who gets to know them and provides ongoing support and care,” she said.
“Building trust with our babies and providing engaging and age-appropriate learning opportunities is so important because it means they will develop skills in a wide range of areas and also have that great social and emotional connection with their carers and friends.”
Goodstart Fortitude Valley
Nursery Educator Danielle Flamia said babies learn through experience and observation and they rely on their senses as they explore their surroundings which is why our nursery rooms are rich in colours and textures, sights and sounds.
“Beyond their five senses babies also need to develop body awareness and balance, so we spend time on the floor with them - rolling, crawling, climbing and cruising – helping them to move independently and build their sensory systems,” she said.