This article was written by Horizons’ Infant Teachers Herb Hickey and Rosis Del Jesus and published by NAEYC.

Amina, one of the newest infants in the class, is attempting to sit up. Teachers Rosis and Herb consider what spatial configurations and soft objects would encourage safe and active exploration at the child’s own pace. They then create options based on their thinking about what is responsive to her development. Amina will lean in different directions, so they set up “crash pads” with cushions. They also provide other options, such as surrounding her in a circle of their bent legs to provide a structure for maneuvering and placing her just inside the opening of a rigid sitting support ring. With the ability to fall safely, Amina learns to catch herself while developing the balance and core strength necessary to sit independently.

Horizons for Homeless Children is a child care program in Boston that provides early education opportunities for children and their families who might be in shelter or might have recently moved out of shelter. Families generally stay with us for several months after they find secure housing, and many of the children in our program have been with us from infancy through preschool. Because of this, the educational models we use are trauma-informed and focus on social and emotional development. We know that if we don’t get that piece right—if children don’t feel comfortable and content—learning will not take place. In this article, we share information about our program and offer specific examples of how we promote playful, trauma-informed infant care and education.

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