The Young Child Community (YCC) provides a rich environment that encourages growth and development, especially independence. Children between the ages of 18 to 36 months are exposed to practical life work to promote autonomy in areas such as care of the self, the indoor and outdoor environment, as well as grace and courtesy. There is a great emphasis on language and materials devised to refine grasps, eye-hand coordination, and focus. The space is arranged in a manner promoting success and the materials allow the children to continue working towards self-sufficiency through guidance from the adults. In this quest to help children help themselves, here are a few key elements to aid and support children through this wonderful journey.
First and foremost, children participate in dressing and undressing themselves as independently as possible. They will learn to Velcro, zip, button, snap, and buckle using materials and then their own clothing. Also, as soon as a child enters the YCC, the process towards toilet independence begins as all children wear heavy cotton underwear throughout the day. A set routine is put in place whereby the children are taken to the bathroom regularly to encourage success.
Furthermore, the children prepare our daily snack. They learn to make rolls and muffins, peeling and slicing eggs, cutting cheese and bananas, and so much more. Snack is an opportunity for the children to expand their taste buds and the children love to eat what they have helped prepare. As part of a community, the children set the table with placemats, plates, glasses, utensils as needed, and pitchers. They learn to pour their own drinks and serve themselves. They are also responsible for cleaning up once they are done. The children love this work as they are in charge and recognize that they can impact their own environment.
The YCC incorporates the three period lesson to model and foster learning. The first period is introduction of an object, the second period is one of recognition, and the third period is when the child is able to recognize and name the object.
The YCC provides both a half-day and full-day program. Full-day children eat lunch together brought from home and then prepare to nap. Low cots are used for naptime in order to allow the children to independently go to and to leave their cots. Children are encouraged to fall asleep on their own.
Hence, the Young Child Community is designed for children to freely discover their potentials through guidance and modeling from adults. As they become more capable, the children continue to explore through work as they continue on this adventure to discover their abilities as independent beings. Treated with respect and care, these children become a true and supportive community.