• autonomy: ability to make decisions for oneself and direct one’s own behavior
  • empathy: ability to recognize, share, understand, and consider another person’s feelings
  • positive guidance: helping a child learn good behaviors and self control


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

Young toddlers are active learners. Walking, jumping, climbing, balancing, and manipulating objects are not only skills to master, they are also tools for finding things out. Curious toddlers may touch and taste, pull, throw, and climb—just to see what might happen or what they can discover. But they are still learning what is safe and acceptable. By being a tuned-in educator, you can show toddlers that you value their curiosity, while also helping them to explore and interact in safe ways. You can provide interesting learning opportunities while also helping toddlers to understand the potential consequences of their actions and to accept necessary limits.

As they pursue their curiosity, young toddlers will want to do things by themselves and in their own way. They are developing a sense of autonomy, a sense that they can make choices and direct their own behavior. At the same time, they also need a lot of emotional support and guidance. You can give young toddlers the structure they need to feel secure and behave appropriately. By putting familiar items in familiar places, offering simple daily routines and activity patterns, and helping children manage their feelings, you can help toddlers to be confident, active learners who are proud of what they know and can do.

In this 45-minute, self-paced tutorial, you will explore best practices in supporting younger toddlers’ 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 conversation and guidance strategies that help toddlers express themselves in positive ways.
  • Explore ways to expand toddlers’ language as you talk, read, and play with children one-on-one and in small groups.
  • Examine and plan learning experiences that engage young toddlers in exploring how things relate to each other as they pursue self-chosen activities.
  • Reflect upon how your current practices support younger toddlers’ learning and identify ways to be more effective.
  • Plan how you might partner with families to support their 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 Younger Toddlers’ 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 how young toddlers explore everything around them, while also learning to express their wishes and feelings and to make choices for themselves. You will follow center-based educators Eileen, Kristen, and their colleagues, and Kathy, a family child care educator, as they help toddlers express themselves in positive ways, expand their language, and support their discoveries. As you watch, pay close attention to how educators help children master new skills and feel good about what they know and can do as the children participate in group activities and as they pursue their own agendas.

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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