Supporting the Professional Development of Infant and Toddler Teachers and Caregivers

Competencies Needed in Infant/Toddler Teachers and Caregivers

The field may benefit from better ways to understand how to hire and support teachers and caregivers who are ready to promote development and learning of infants and toddlers. Clear frameworks for the competencies needed in this workforce can help. When we know what knowledge, skills, and attributes are essential to providing high-quality infant/toddler care, we can better tailor professional development (PD) opportunities for this workforce. Teachers and caregivers can learn and improve specific competencies over time, so a competency framework may lead to more effective PD that in turn may improve caregiving for infants and toddlers over time.

A range of competency frameworks for infant/toddler Competency Framework: A compilation of competencies intended to convey the range of knowledge, skills, and attributes essential to a particular area of practice, job, or profession.16 teachers and caregivers are already being used in practice, and they have important similarities and differences. Using an internet search, researchers identified 58 competency frameworks, 51 of which were developed for teachers and caregivers in specific states and 7 of which focused on teachers and caregivers nationally.

The following domains appeared across many frameworks:

  • Instructional planning, child assessment, and progress monitoring
  • Arts and creativity
  • Health, safety, and nutrition
  • Social and emotional development support
  • Cognitive development support
  • Language and literacy support
  • Motor development support
  • Cultural identity and responsiveness
  • Family communication and engagement
  • Community partnership
  • Professionalism

Online Professional Development Supporting Competency Development

Providing targeted PD can support the growth of specific competencies and may be an effective way to make CCEE environments more supportive of infants and toddlers. Delivering competency-based PD online may be an accessible format that allows teachers and caregivers to participate more readily. However, there are relatively few existing online PD systems that include content specific to infant/toddler teacher and caregiver competencies. Researchers identified several online PD systems and reviewed 5 systems in-depth that include such content, three of which have at least one study of their outcomes. CCEE leaders who are interested in supporting competency development among their infant/toddler teachers and caregivers might consider using or embedding aspects of these PD approaches in their own supports.


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