In the Classroom: The Moonbeams

Toddlers discover the fun of playing together

Terrific Twos

Most of us have heard of the Terrific Twos*, the approximate age when the sweet, agreeable bundles of sunshine we have nurtured since birth somehow transform into unreasonable and often defiant creatures. Children at this stage of development have realized they are their own entities, separate from their parents and other caregivers, and are not shy about making that fact known. 
There are many ways in which the Moonbeam teachers work to support the autonomy that develops during this time. Children have lots of freedom to select and participate in activities, which also means they have some responsibility for tidying up.
Whenever possible, we allow the ‘Beams to do things for themselves, such as putting on their own shoes; this task would take a grown-up five seconds, but may take a child several minutes. When children do need help, we often ask a peer to offer assistance, instead of having a teacher intercede right away. 
Our ratio for much of the day is 1 adult for every 4 children, which means we can often prevent conflicts from erupting. Teachers are able move around the room and be present where several children are playing, to model appropriate social interactions and cooperation.
Children often want to interact and be friends, but are not always sure how to take turns or share space. Teachers can provide words for a child may be trying to express, such as  “It’s my turn,” “I don’t like that,” and “I need space.” Eventually, children will start to recognize that other children are their own separate entities as well. 
One of the remarkable changes that teachers in the 2's classrooms get to see is the beginning of cooperative play, when two or more friends figure out that working together to do something could be a lot more fun than playing alone!
*a popular euphemism