Babies and toddlers: Amazing learners – Video 1


Hello. I’m Anne Stonehouse. This video is about children
as active learners from birth. They seek opportunities to learn
from everything around them. They learn largely through relationships
and interactions with the people who are important
to them, especially their families, and through active engagement
with their world. Picture a newborn baby
and a three-year-old. That should be enough to convince you that the learning that takes place
in the first three years is unrivalled by the amount
and importance of learning at any other time in life. If you look at babies and toddlers
attentively, and think about what’s really happening, you can see the beginnings
of skills and understandings that will grow over a lifetime and that are often
more readily recognised later. Very early learning
not only lays the foundations for later learning
and success in school and life, it is also important
for the quality of life in the present. Early learning is particularly powerful
simply because it happens first. What you learn first, you learn best. Most people recognise obvious milestones
in the first few years, such as walking and using words, but much of the evidence of
babies and toddlers learning is subtle and easily missed unless you know
what you’re looking for. One of the broad categories of learning
is learning about yourself, learning who you are. Babies and toddlers
are developing a picture of themselves, a sense of identity, and it is crucial that this sense
of identity is strong and positive. The idea of who you are
comes from your relationships, which begin at birth,
some would say even before birth. Feeling a sense of belonging to
your family, of course, is fundamental. That sense of belonging
expands over time to other people and to groups that you’re a part of. Recognising and welcoming others
and being welcomed contributes to a strong sense
of identity. – What would you like to do today?
– Who’s this? What would you like to do today? STONEHOUSE: In the first three years,
children learn about themselves through their interaction with others,
both adults and other children. They learn whether or not
they are valued and what kind of difference
they make to others. CHILD: Mum, Mum, Mum.
WOMAN: A kiss? – Mum, Mum, Mum.
– Mwah! Oh! My hat fell off, Elijah. Who’s this? Who’s this? That. STONEHOUSE: All children
need the opportunity to see themselves
as capable and competent, as active, powerful contributors to
their own experience and that of others. The concept of children’s agency refers to the need for children
to have choices, make decisions, and have some control
over their daily lives, to understand that they make
a positive difference. and that they can engage others
and have their full attention. Sarah. That’s it. (Toddler speaks indistinctly) STONEHOUSE: Knowing the routine, being able to predict
what’s going to happen next, strengthens feelings of empowerment. Children feel more secure
when they have a sense of, ‘I know how we do things here’. They feel valued when they see that they’re doing something useful,
when they’re helping. Alright, do you want to put them
back on the shelf? Do you want to help me
put them back on the shelf? STONEHOUSE: Taking an active part
in their own daily lives strengthens that sense of agency –
‘I can do it’ – and builds feelings
of competence and confidence. When they help adults
and other children, the sense of being a valued member
of a family or other group builds. They learn about how good it feels
to achieve and to contribute. This learning is the beginning of learning how to be a citizen,
a community member. – Evie, look.
WOMAN: You did great sharing outside. Well done. Beautiful sharing. Good job. WOMAN: Good job. Get that little foot in there. Good job. (Woman chuckles) (Speaks indistinctly) WOMAN: Is that Annabel’s hat? – (Speaks indistinctly)
WOMAN: Thank you. Thanks! (Speaks indistinctly) STONEHOUSE: Babies and toddlers
take some small steps towards autonomy and independence
and begin to do things for themselves. They start learning how to look after
their own health and wellbeing. Through these actions, they learn habits
or ways of going about their daily lives that are likely to be long-lasting. With babies and toddlers,
many of the learning opportunities arise in daily living experiences, as they get ready to rest and sleep,
wash their hands, serve food, pour their drinks, eat… ..put on and take off shoes and socks,
and help to set up and tidy up. WOMAN: What do you want? Is that OK? Let’s go. You ready? STONEHOUSE: The physical environment
can support a sense of agency. In other words,
it’s important for children to find their own opportunities
to learn what they can do. Children in this setting
sleep on mats on the floor, which allows them to decide themselves
when they want to get up. Children also learn to cope,
manage frustration, and learn when and how to get help. Knowing that help and support
are available is an important contributor
to a strong sense of identity. (Whimpers) WOMAN: Would you like me to help you? – (Whimpers)
– Pull it off. You’ve got to undo the velcro. Pull this part. That’s it. And pull it at the back. Pull it off at the back. Undo the straps. That’s it. You’ve got to undo three straps. One… Are you ready? That’s it. Pull, pull, pull. Now you did it! TODDLER: Sock. WOMAN: And the socks off too? STONEHOUSE: Succeeding,
meeting a challenge, is a cause for celebration. And it’s especially good
if there’s someone to share it with. Babies and toddlers
are great communicators, even before they are able
to use language fluently. They learn to communicate and
express themselves in a variety of ways, with gestures, facial expressions,
through crying and with sounds and eventually words. (Makes word-like sounds) STONEHOUSE: Demonstrating
that they understand language and the growing ability
to communicate in words are two of the most dramatic
and significant changes that occur in the first three years. Hello. STONEHOUSE: Babies and toddlers
also communicate and express themselves through imitative, creative
or pretend play. (Speaks indistinctly) Around this wrist. WOMAN: You’re wrapping it
around your wrist, around your hand? – Around?
– Yeah. Wrapping it round and round. Oh, Tom, we’ve lost Maggie. – (Chuckles)
– (Giggles) Do you want to hide this? Oh, it’s a skirt! STONEHOUSE: Learning to coordinate
and control the body is a very important and prominent area
of learning in the first three years. Children under three spend a lot of time
learning new skills and practising ones already mastered. Just moving through space, cruising, and moving objects around
because you can… Off you go. There we go. ..are massive steps forward in strengthening that sense of agency
and making a difference. Simply walking over uneven surfaces
or turning a corner is a challenge. You have to learn how to pick up
an object off the ground without losing your balance. That’s not easy. Learning to use hands and fingers
in ever-increasingly complex ways promotes independence, exploration
and experimentation. WOMAN: Over there. STONEHOUSE: When they have exposure
to various kinds of tools, children initially explore them and then move on to using them
for a purpose. When they use paintbrushes and pencils,
they are learning basic skills that much later will allow them
to draw, paint pictures and write. Learning to control your behaviour, being able to stop yourself
from doing something that you want to do is challenging. In fact, it’s not only children
who struggle with self-control. Learning self-control involves learning
how to express strong feelings, as well as learning
to go along and cooperate with something
that you don’t want to do at times. Sometimes you can persuade people
and sometimes you can’t. Identity includes learning
about your own and others’ rights and responsibilities and learning to assert yourself
appropriately. This is a very complex area of learning. Many adults struggle with learning
to respect and care for others and also to stand up for themselves. When you’re very young, it’s not always easy to know
what the rules are and even more challenging at times
to go along with them. Learning to express
your needs and wishes and finding out that others
will take them into account strengthens one’s sense of self. Hello. Wow! WOMAN: Exciting!
– Yeah! STONEHOUSE: An experience that reveals
differences in children’s styles, their sense of belonging
and their resilience is how they make the transition between being with their family and
being somewhere else with other people. Here you go, mister. Gonna have watermelon. Just let me squeeze it together. WOMAN: Hello, Zara! Hi, Zara! Morning! Where are you heading off to already? Walking. Hi, Zara. STONEHOUSE: Arrivals
at the Education and Care Service show that each child has ways
of approaching the situation. Jake, come and say hello to everyone.
Come on. Hello! (Toddler speaks indistinctly) Hello, you gorgeous girl. See you later, darling. Oh! STONEHOUSE: Separating from the people
you’re closest to is not always easy. As children’s understanding
of their experience grows during the first three years, their reactions to separating change
and they need help at times to cope. This is perfectly normal
and to be expected. Playing the drums, weren’t they? STONEHOUSE: The sense of being a member
of a community, of belonging there, begins in infancy. WOMAN: Throw one to me. – (Woman chuckles)
– Yay! Shall we get a basket
to throw them in, maybe? STONEHOUSE: To conclude,
developing a strong sense of identity or sense of self
is a lifelong endeavour. What is best for children is that they have a range of experiences
in the first three years that teach them to be
strong, confident and curious and that they have relationships
with adults who appreciate the challenges
that accompany learning about yourself. Into this one.
Do you think you can get it into it? Think you can get it into that one? No? What about… ..into this one? Think you can throw it into there? Yay! STONEHOUSE: The following vignette captures a child who’s well on the way
to learning these things. Can I have a cuddle?
And we’ll do some singing. Yeah. Will you sing? Say good morning to everyone. Come on. Can you sing I Love Those Vowels? – (Sings indistinctly)
– Yeah! TODDLER: Yeah!
– Yeah? Can I have a cuddle? Ohh. A cuddle! Cuddle! – Shall we get the iPad out?
– iPad. iPad. And we’ll watch
I Love Those Vowels? – (Singsongs indistinctly)
– Yeah? Yeah, that’s Elijah. And we’ve got your trampoline out. Yeah? Do you want to go
and have a play on your trampoline? TODDLER: Trampoline.
– Trampoline. Hop down. You hold my hand. That’s it. Good job. Yeah! Good job. Up, up! – Whoa!
– I’m here, I’m here. I’m right behind you. I’m behind you. ? Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way ? ? Doo doo doo ? ? Doo doo doo, doo doo doo
Doo doo, doo-doo-doo ? – Hey!
– Hey. – Hey!
– Hey! Hey! ? Oh, what fun it is to ride
in a one-horse open sleigh, hey! ? – Hey!
– Hey! (Laughs)

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