Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version

July 2002


Published in Young Children 57:4 (July 2002), pp. 10-17.
Copyright © 2002 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Used by Permission.


Creating an infant/toddler program that revolves around relationships can be compared to expanding a relationship dance from first attachment figures to new ones. The educator must take On an artistic role for this performance. The educator makes the space ready, creating a beautiful place that inspires everyone to feel like dancing. For a new child just entering, the educator must take the initiative, become attuned, get into rhythm with the child, following the child's lead. Because a young child enters the programs "in the arms” of parents, the educator also enfolds the parents in this process. Gradually, as the dance between the educator and child becomes smooth and familiar, the educator can encourage the child to try out more complex steps and learn how to dance to new compositions, beats, and tempos different from those known before. The dance partnership can also widen as both child and adult try out new partners from the larger group. As the child alternates between dancing sometimes with one or two partners and sometimes with many, the dance becomes a story about who the child has been and who the child is becoming, a reciprocal self created through close relationships.