Infants need a balance of fine and gross motor play, sensory play and outdoor play each day. Use these tips for creating individualized infant lesson plans and activities in your day care or preschool.
Infant Lesson Plans
Many caregivers believe that the daily care of an infant, such as diapering and feeding, is all there is to day care or preschool. While these daily interactions are certainly important, they are not the only things. Infants should be actively involved in sensory play, fine and gross motor activities, and outdoor play each day. While the guidelines for an infant lesson plan will look much different than for older children, there still needs to be a plan in place.
Infant lesson plans are often individual. There can be a huge difference between the developmental needs of a three month old and those of an eight month old. A five-month age difference in preschoolers is much harder to distinguish. For this reason, it will be necessary to plan differently for each child in your care depending on his/her developmental needs. Several activities may overlap, but the focus for each may be very different.
Another difference between preschool and infant lesson plans is that infant plans often don't follow a strict schedule. Since an infant's schedule sometimes varies on a daily basis, it is difficult to pin down an exact time ahead of time when you will choose to do an activity. Take your cues from the babies. If a baby has been fed and is well rested, and the other infants are happily engaged in other centers, try doing an activity or two. If the child becomes irritated, sleepy or hungry, it's time to stop. Continue the activity as long as the child is still actively involved and happy. There really is no ideal length of time for infant activities. Be sure to watch the infants for signs of fatigue, boredom or hunger.
Organizing Infant Lesson Plans
As stated earlier, it may be necessary to plan activities for infants on an individual basis. While several activities will probably be purposeful for more than one child in your class, their focus may change. For example:
Lauren: 2 months
Activity: Tummy time - Place Lauren on her tummy with a few soft toys in front of her. Encourage her to lift her head and use her arms to push her head and chest up from the floor. Use a soft voice to motivate her.
Ryan: 7 months
Activity: Tummy time - Place Ryan on his tummy with a few soft toys slightly out of reach. Encourage him to reach for the toys by pulling himself along the floor or getting up on his hands and knees. Use songs, clapping and happy cheers to motivate him.
While both infants will be participating in the same gross motor activity, the focus for each child is very different. The same can be done with sensory play, art activities and fine motor experiences. When planning for infants, be sure to keep in mind the reason you are planning each activity, and be sure to state that on the individual lesson plan. Doing so will keep your lesson plan focused.
It may be easiest for you to keep separate charts for each infant in your care with a week's worth of activities and the developmental purpose for each. Or, it may be easiest to keep a list of activities for the week and placing each participating child's name next to the activity. Planning should be done week to week in an infant classroom.
Since infants develop quickly, their developmental needs may change drastically from one week to the next. Keep this in mind when reviewing your lessons and make changes when necessary. Keep your plan displayed where parents can review them. Keep parents informed of the types of activities you are planning for their infant and allow them to make suggestions as to the activities their babies enjoy.