*an excerpt from a paper I am writing for school...the topic is the essential needs of the child in the 3 phases of early childhood, with an emphasis on how we as adult caregivers and educators can best meet these needs...
The “little child” (birth-2.5)
The very young child needs and deserves a warm and gentle welcome. We used this phrase many times this Summer, and I believe this encompasses much of what the small child is needing at this point of development. Once the child has initiated their descent into this world, we as parents provide the garden for their experiences. As they are born unprotected into a new environment, the little child continually needs physical warmth and an environment that is almost “womb like”. As caregivers or parents, we strive to continue this protection and foster a growing attachment between mother and child during this time of transition; whether that is 40 days, 20 days, or just one week. A caregiver can create a space with this in mind…soft, filtered light (such as covering the stroller or crib with a mauve colored piece of muslin), a stroller which faces the mother, plenty of uninterrupted time at home; away from the harsh lights and mechanical sounds of busy places. This is a significant task for parents and caregivers! A parent/child “class” or gathering for infants would ideally offer an inviting, safe and developmentally appropriate space where parents feel comfortable to discuss challenges and questions. There is a true interest in the caregiver as a human being and the empowerment of the parent could be seen as the goal. This could be a time for parents to find real joy and community in parenting through a tactful facilitator and a “neighborhood” of like minded families.
Very small children are ideally able to experience free initiated activity and movement. “Uprightness” is something which they come to in their own time; not by being propped, coached, or placed. Parents should be empowered to trust in the child’s pure capability to imitate and to do “things in his own time” without the use of clever “teaching”. Understanding the large role of imitation during all phases of early childhood proves to be integral in supporting the children we have been called to care for. During this first phase of development, imitation is the river that bubbles and effervescently flows; guiding the child in all that he does.. We can best support this by offering simple and "unfinished" play materials which allow the child to organically experience weight, depth, and life. These natural sense impressions will further stimulate the inner development of the organs