As some of you may know, my initial plan for my adult life was to become a pediatrician. For various reasons, I changed my mind. I decided to go to graduate school to pursue my doctorate in infant cognition and perceptions. Because of illness, I had to give up that dream, though not before publishing my masters thesis.
Then I spent about eight years (on and off) teaching English in South Korea. When I came home, I battled illness, both physical and psychological. An excellent treatment team consisting of the University Hospitals, Cleveland bariatrics program, a general practitioner, a psychiatrist and a psychologist.
Just over three years ago, I applied for jobs in the child care/early childhood education industry. Despite what some may believe, we are not baby sitters. We are qualified educators with requirements to maintain our qualification. Like our K-12 colleges, I have to write lesson plans, do assessments, set goals, have parent/teacher conferences and much more. It really annoys me when someone tells me it must be so much fun to play with babies all day. Yes, it is a lot of fun, but it’s a TON of work, especially with the youngest infants.
I landed a job at a center just four minutes from my house. I began as a preschool teacher. Although I liked what I was doing, it wasn’t just right for me. I spent one summer developing and running the Summer Bridge program to help insure our school aged students didn’t lose too much ground over their long vacation. That definitely wasn’t the right place for me. I have so much respect for my K-12 colleges. I could not do their job. After returning to the preschool for a while, I found my true love, unsurprisingly, infants.
I started working with the older infants, 12-18 months of age. I enjoyed my ability to watch development, in what seems like fast forward. Then COVID hit. Our center closed. When we reopened, due to staffing difficulties, we combined the younger and older infants into one room. We being providing care for infants beginning at six weeks of age. So far, the youngest infant came to me at just under four months. She’s now 14 months old and it amazes me every day how much she’s changed. My little Londynn was basically a blob when she came. I had to feed her, hold her, carry her, decipher her cries. Not anymore. She’s saying single words and even a phrase or two (like “eat eat” when she’s hungry). I’ve been home sick for the last week (scientists don’t need to develop bioweapons, just use baby snot), so she just might be walking on her own now.
That’s a long preamble to post some pictures of my classroom. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I have a bit of a perfectionistic trend. I take great pride in keeping my room fresh and interesting. I have taken continuing education courses on how to set up an effective infant or toddler classroom. When we had our Step Up to Quality visit a few months ago, I received great feedback from the assessor. I’ve helped other teachers set up and enhance their classrooms as well.
Without further ado…
I love displaying the artwork the babies do. I generally have a theme for the bulletin board over the changing table. Currently, it’s summer. In the photo above, we did some tape resist painting using their initials. Other artwork is on the walls using inexpensive bulletin board boarder from the dollar store to frame it. The red, yellow and green posters are pictures of the babies in various activities. One is them eating, another is them doing art and the final one is them reading. And boy do they love to read. The large bulleting board above the play kitchen area says, “What Us Learn… and Grow!” and features pictures of them doing various activities.
As for how they do art? There’s an art to doing art with babies, but once you discover the methods, it’s a lot of fun, and surprisingly not very messy. I have a container and marbles that I put paper and paint in and let them shake, shake shake it. I have a salad spinner that I load with paper and paint and they push the plunger, sometimes with some assistance from me. I put the paper and paint in a plastic zipper bag, seal it up and they pick it up and smush and squish to their hearts desire. The next method is the one with a higher chance of mess, but it’s not too bad. You take your paper and paint (or even wooden forms) and sandwich them between two slices of deli paper (or any other sort of paper bigger than the artwork) and let them pat it, hit or rub it. Peal the deli paper away and your art is left behind. This is how I helped them make their initial. For those who are brave, I’ve done handprints. And for those who are super duper extra dedicated, take their shirts off, put on an art shirt and let them finger paint. There is nontoxic washable paint on the market, or you can make your own using various edible materials.
I hope you enjoyed