As stated in the Reading Rockets.org article title: Baby and Toddler Milestones “Good communication development starts in the first year of life and goes far beyond learning how to talk.” Wittmer and Sanders pointed to the following, “Pines (13) reported that Montager discovered five major styles of nonverbal communication among children that begin as early as 9 to 12 months of age: actions of pacifying, threatening actions, aggressive actions, gestures of fear, actions that produce isolation” (p.155). These gestural languages of infants and toddlers will be observed, along with characteristics of prosocial behavior in a non-formal interview with a toddler teacher from my early childhood educational facility.
The names of all observed are changed for privacy, therefore pseudonyms will be used in reference to review two separate toddlers and their gestural language in Mrs. Susan’s toddler class which is ages 12 months to 24 months. Mrs. Susan has a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and has been with our preschool since 2015. Mrs. Susan gave her informal observations for two sperate students. At 20-months old Matt has been in the center since August 2020 and Lucy who is 14 months old and has been in the preschool class only for the past 2 months.
Matt is a social boy, who enjoys sharing his toys on occasion. He loves the fire trucks in the class and Mrs. Susan talks about his passion to share his love for the fire trucks by bringing her the trucks and showing the area to his friends. He sits in the block area with the fire trucks and likes to build blocks and push the fire truck to break the blocks he has built. Matt shows pacifying behavior by clapping his hands during music time and again repeats this when Mrs. Susan puts him down for nap and turns on the classic music for nap as well.
Even though he loves, fire trucks, he feels threatened during fire drills and begins to cry upon exiting the class. In the block area, Mrs. Susan shares that Matt sometimes bytes his classmates who want to play alongside him. If anyone tries to take Matt’s blocks and the word “no” does not suffice, he can grab down and byte the child in the arm. This is the observed aggressive behavior which is Matt’s gestural language which may be caused by the fact that Matt does not have a full vocabulary to showcase his feelings. The school addresses such behavior by doing an accident report and speaking to Matt about nice hands and kind actions. Matt is fearful from noises of sirens and runs away when he is playing on the playground from the area where the noise is coming from.
Lucy, who is 14 months old smiles at Mrs. Susan as she comes in with her mom daily. Lucy enjoys Mrs. Susan and has grown a bond with her classroom teacher, as Mrs. Susan remarks. However, Lucy is still learning how to transition from one activity to another and may begin to yell, as a threatening gestural language when Mrs. Susan transitions from circle time to outside play. Lucy does not show any aggressive behaviors towards her classmates or her teacher.
However, Lucy does bend backward in protest during mealtime when she does not like the food presented to her. Mrs. Susan comments on how she talks to Lucy in a low tone and uses Mickey as part of her mealtime routine to have Lucy see that Mickey is calm and enjoys lunch. Lucy seems to like physical contact with her peers and Mrs. Susan discloses that Lucy loves to run towards her friends with open arms to give them hugs when she enters the preschool setting. This gestural behavior is noted as a prosocial skill that Lucy has.
As stated by Wittmer and Peterson, “infants and toddlers go through many stages of social development as they learn how to be socially competent” (p. 154). It is the obligation of early childhood professionals to understand the complicated gestural language cues of the children under their care. Assessing such unspoken language is crucial in understanding appropriate development, creating age-appropriate lesson plans and making sure the preschool environment is a good setting for the growth and development of each individual learners.
In this assignment you will interview an infant-toddler teacher. In the interview, you will ask what gestural language she/he sees infants and toddlers use with peers. What are some examples of pacifying, threatening, aggressive, fearful, and prosocial behaviors that the teacher has observed?
Teacher: Mrs. Susan
Age Group: Toddler Class (12-24 months of age)
|Behaviors ObservedGestural Language Infants/Toddler us with Peers||Pacifying||Threatening||Aggressive||Fearful||Prosocial|
|Matt(20 months old)||Claps his hands during music and upon nap time as he hears classical music||Cries during loud noises and fire drills||Bytes others sometimes during activities in the block area||Runs away when hears sirens passing by on the playground||Brings fire truck to share with his teacher and sometimes his classmates|
|Lucy(14 months old)||Smiles at teacher upon arrival and when teacher picks up child from mom||Yelling in protest during transitions (usually circle time and music to outside)||NON-OBSERVED||Bends body backwards during meal time when food is precented not to child’s liking||Hugs her class matesHugs Micky her favorite toyLikes to give hugs to teacher|
Wittmer, D. S., & Petersen, S. H. (2018). Infant and toddler development and responsive program planning: A relationship-based approach. NY, NY: Pearson.
Florida State University. (n.d.). Baby and Toddler Milestones: 16 Gestures by 16 Months. Reading Rockets.Org. Retrieved August 2, 2021, from https://www.readingrockets.org/article/baby-and-toddler-milestones-16-gestures-16-months
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