Infant and toddler pedagogy

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The development and learning that occurs during the first three years of life is widely accepted to as forming a foundation for life-long learning and wellbeing. While infants are born with powerful innate social and learning dispositions, over fifty years of observational and experimental research now demonstrates the critical role played by the social and physical environment in fostering early learning. Recently, due to a recognition that families are increasingly sharing the care of their infants and toddlers with early childhood educators, this research attention has been expanded to include early childhood education and care (ECEC) contexts. Research about the characteristics and consequences of infant-toddler pedagogies is itself still in infancy, but a robust evidence base is emerging to demonstrate the importance of infant-toddler early education pedagogies. There is a developing appreciation that the efforts of infant-toddler educators complement those of families to shape early learning and development. In a context where infant-toddler education and care suffers from societal attitudes about the low status of care and ‘women’s work’, this evidence-base challenges early childhood professionals, leaders and policy makers to recognize and support the specialized nature of infant-toddler pedagogies. This article outlines international research about infant-toddler pedagogies across nine sections. The first provides some Key Text Books and Reference Works which collectively present and synthesize the research evidence for pre- and in-service educators and academic readers. The second section, Conceptualizing Quality in infant-toddler Pedagogies, examines evidence about the characteristics, contributors, and consequences of high quality pedagogies. The article progresses to detail research into pedagogies that have been shown to foster specific areas of learning and development. Across three sections, cited articles identify particular teaching strategies that have been associated with infant-toddler Social and Emotional Development, Cognitive and Language Development, and Physical Health and Development. The sixth section, Infant-toddler Pedagogies that Support Inclusion, presents research and practitioner articles about the inclusion of infants and toddlers with disabilities, and social-cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The final two sections, the Infant-toddler Workforce and Pre-service Education and Professional Learning, show that the capacity of educators to deliver high quality infant-toddler pedagogies is constrained by workforce conditions and professional learning opportunities. The evidence detailed in these sections provides a sobering reminder that effective infant-toddler pedagogies are reliant on the knowledge, capabilities and wellbeing of educators, and that, internationally, leadership is needed to make meaningful improvements to infant toddler educators’ preparation, working conditions and status.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford bibliographies
Subtitle of host publicationeducation
EditorsSusan C. Faircloth
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)0199756813, 9780199756810
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2022


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