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DAP: Community Walks with Toddlers

  • 1.  DAP: Community Walks with Toddlers

    Posted 19 days ago
    Hello Fellow Early Childhood Professionals,

    I am curious to know: how do you manage community walks with large groups of young children? In particular, how do other toddler educators manage these outings in a way that is DAP and safe, but that also fosters the children's sense of belonging in their community.

    I am struggling with the current procedures for our community walks (3 educators + 16 toddlers) and feel that our practices may not be DAP.

    Thank you in advance!

    Kayla

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    Kayla de Groot
    Early Childhood Educator
    NSCECE
    Halifax NS
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  • 2.  RE: DAP: Community Walks with Toddlers

    Posted 18 days ago
    Hello everyone,
    I feel that 16 toddlers with three teachers on a walk is an accident waiting to happen. I would just take a group of 5 kids per teacher and go for a walk.
    This will allow teachers and children to fully enjoy the walk and the observations derived from it.
    Jackie S.

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    Jacqueline Frig Sankowski
    Lead teacher
    Mendon Child Care Center
    Mendon NY
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  • 3.  RE: DAP: Community Walks with Toddlers

    Posted 18 days ago

    Hi Kayla, I suspect you are struggling with walks for a good reason!

    In my toddler trainings I ask teachers if they have ever observed toddlers walking of their own free will? Picture a toddler, they always run! (Or stumble, or creep)

    Toddlers are working hard on developing two lesser-known senses. Body Awareness, (proprioception system) which is the sensation of the muscles and joints that enables the brain to know where each part of the body is and how it is moving, and Movement, (vestibular system) which contributes to our balance and our sense of where our body is in space.

    It is critical to develop these senses early in order to feel comfortable in ones own body. Toddlers can seem very clumsy as these skills are in the early stages of development. It is important for them to have a safe, but challenging environment in which to practice all the kinds of movement that lead to mastery.

    Another issue about walking from point A to point B with toddlers is that they are generally not interested in doing so. They live in the moment, and "here" is the best place to be, not "there." They can really enjoy a very small range and find meaning in small details, like cracks in sidewalks, rain running down a gutter, pipes coming out of a building or machinery working on the street.

    Is there is a safe way to take the children out into the neighborhood, very close to your center, and let them experience the community by milling around, talking, and playing? I think you will find this a richer experience and there will be plenty of chances for teachers to observe what fascinates the students and follow up on these experiences in the classroom and yard.



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    Karen Lefkovitz
    Independent Consultant
    Philadelphia PA
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  • 4.  RE: DAP: Community Walks with Toddlers

    Posted 18 days ago
    Hi Kayla,

    I love the spirit of engaging with the community. You might want the community to come to you! Our centers are often isolated, fenced environments that keep the community out. Perhaps  someone from the community can come to you with many baked loaves of bread for them to investigate, or bring a cart from the library and let them explore books, or can  you choose a nearby destination that has access to public transportation with a reliable time schedule so  the families meet at the destination and return with you to the center or end the day there?

    Walks for us are meanderings while moving in the wider community, explorations of how the various members of their community(including their peers) move and walk, sharing investigation with their community along the walk ( a house being build! A hole in the sidewalk!), and we have found that even up to 5 years of age we need one adult to 3 children! We want to encourage them to look at the world, explore the world, and often we cannot plan a destination of more than a block in mind with one adult at the end of the block in case someone runs ahead, to remind all that this is where we pause to look around before heading  back. The children are connecting socially in the community, stopping to greet a neighbor, seeing someone walking their pet, talking to one another about the walk, finding interesting artifacts on the walk and a block is far enough.

    Alternatively, a plaza where community members are already gathered (playing chess, sitting at benches, feeding sparrows), an enclosed park area of some sort, where you move from one part of the area to another vs a walk, allows for them to have agency in how they interact in that community. It, I am guessing,  is exactly what I think you have set out to do!  It is not a hurried, stressful  march for adults OR children  from the start to the end, but an investigation into the wonders along the way as they build and explore community within their peer group and within their larger environment.


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    Carol Tatsumi
    Director
    Manhattan Beach Nursery School
    Manhattan Beach CA
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  • 5.  RE: DAP: Community Walks with Toddlers

    Posted 17 days ago
    I love "here is the best place to be, not there" not only a great description of why taking walks are difficult but also why all transitions are difficult with toddlers.

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    Margery Heyl
    Chicago IL
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  • 6.  RE: DAP: Community Walks with Toddlers

    Posted 18 days ago
    If they are all under the age of 3, shouldn't it be a 1 teacher for 4 children ratio?  If so, that means for 16 toddlers at least 4 adults would be needed.  I also feel that 16 toddlers in one big mob (!) makes zero sense.  Better to break this up into 2 or even 3 groups, so that each child has a more individualized experience.

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    Mars April Caulton
    Education Coordinator,
    Mary Crane Centers
    Chicago IL
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  • 7.  RE: DAP: Community Walks with Toddlers

    Posted 17 days ago
    Hello All,

    Thank you for sharing your amazing perspectives and input!

    One piece of the puzzle that I neglected to share in my original post:
    A reason why we are broaching community walks with toddlers is because, here in NS (Canada), our regulations stipulate that when age groups combine, we must follow the ratio requirement of the youngest children in the group. Because the playground is a shared space with the Preschool program (ages 3 and 4), we cannot combine with them on the playground without an additional educator. Because of this, both the Preschool and Toddler programs alternate use of the playground and community walks to ensure the children have outdoor time in the routine.

    That said, I very much agree with all of the points you are making! Lots to think about.

    Kayla


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    Kayla de Groot
    Early Childhood Educator
    NSCECE
    Halifax NS
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  • 8.  RE: DAP: Community Walks with Toddlers

    Posted 15 days ago
    Good afternoon
    Inviting the toddlers to feel the concept of community is a wonderful idea. The smaller groups could be an inspiration for control. Five is an ideal number, anything more would be a train wreck. And really who would be in control when that happens. At the completion of the topic whether the visit was to the bakery shop, barber shop, or synagogue invite the owner, rabbi, or barber into the classroom as a way to thank them for your visit into their environment. The children would learn while you maintain sanity. Freedom is an illusion when you're a toddler's teacher. Complete the topic as a full group with a health snack and parents/guardians. A time to illustrate to your parents what you're doing as a group while having fun.

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    Patricia Little
    Pre-K Teacher
    Killeen TX
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