• attunement: understanding and smoothly responding to a baby’s nonverbal signals and communications; getting “in tune” or “on the same wavelength” with a baby as you get to know each other and build a special bond
  • being present with a baby: giving the baby your full attention so you can get in tune
  • bonding: the mutual love and trust between a baby and a family member or educator who gets in tune with him
  • en face: (pronounced “on fas”) face-to-face, making eye contact, and attuned (or getting in tune)
  • open-ended questions: questions that require critical thinking, invite opinion or explanation, and have the potential to result in multiple-word answers
  • primary caregiver: the educator in an infant room or mixed-age setting who has primary responsibility for a particular baby, builds an enduring relationship with him and his family, and can help him connect with others in the program
  • responsive interaction: back and forth conversation, play, or interchange in which partners take turns answering each other’s words, sounds, actions, or other communications
  • verbal mapping: putting words to a baby’s actions or telling him what is happening or what will happen


Before watching this video, read the text below. When instructed, watch the video from beginning to end.

In order to learn, young infants need to feel safe and secure. As you respond to a baby and engage with her in back-and-forth interaction, the two of you build a special bond—you learn to understand the baby’s communications and to follow her lead. Your back-and-forth, face-to-face “conversations” with smiles, coos, babbles, and words strengthen your connection and build the baby’s language and cognitive skills. When you tell the baby what you are going to do or what is happening (verbal mapping), you help her feel secure. As you talk with the baby throughout the day, you help her discover interesting things to look at and explore. You can use your special relationship to help the infant pursue her curiosity and connect with other people.

In this 45-minute, self-paced tutorial, you will explore best practices in supporting young infants’ learning. A seven-minute video will show seasoned educators using best practices in action. After re-watching segments of the video, you will review and reflect on what you’ve seen and heard.

During this tutorial, you will:

  • Learn how to get in tune with individual babies and follow their leads.
  • Explore how face-to-face interaction and verbal mapping build babies’ language.
  • Practice using responsive interactions and verbal mapping to help babies explore interesting materials and connect with other children.
  • Reflect upon how your current practices support babies’ learning and identify ways to be more effective.
  • Plan how you might partner with families to support children’s learning.

First, do a self-assessment to discover what your strengths are and to identify specific skills you'd like to work on.

  1. Download and print the Self-Assessment (PDF).
  2. Complete the first half now, before you begin the training.
  3. Save the sheet with your answers. At the end of the training, you'll complete the second half, compare your "before" and "after" responses, and find out how far you've progressed.

Now watch all of Supporting Young Infants’ Learning featuring Eleonora Villegas-Reimers, Associate Professor of Education at Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts. In the video, you will hear Professor Villegas-Reimers explain that babies are learning all the time. You will follow Demetria, a center-based educator, and Kathy, a family child care educator, and observe some of the strategies they use to build relationships with the infants in their care. These caring, supportive relationships help the babies build a sense of security and trust that supports babies’ learning. As you watch, pay close attention to how the educators and babies respond to each other.

Download and print the Learning Log (PDF). Use it during the tutorial to answer questions, reflect upon the materials presented, and jot down ideas and insights about how to apply what you have learned to your own learning environment.

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