Toddler Philosophy

Helping children develop language skills is of particular importance during "toddlerhood". Because they have limited facility with language, toddlers' cries or calls for help must be investigated immediately.

Cornerstone's staff members encourage children to initiate language and celebrate the use of words in all aspects of the program. Toddlers learn through their own experiences: trial and error, repetition, imitation, and identification. Adults are best able to guide and encourage this learning by ensuring a safe, emotionally supportive, positive and stimulating environment.

We are firm believers in showing respect for children, their preferences and their emerging abilities. We think that it is natural and a sign of developing intellectual ability for children to test limits and assert autonomy.

Toddler Program

Cornerstone's program for children under age three invites play, exploration, touch and movement. It provides a broad array of stimulating experiences within a framework of routine with protection from stress. Interaction with others and language development are emphasized and viewed as essential elements in the quality of the toddlers' experiences.

Typical Toddler Day

Early Morning

We exchange greetings. You share pertinent information with staff. Children eat nutritious breakfast foods from home. We assess your child's toileting needs. We set the environment up for open exploration. We share stories and songs. At snack time the children develop self-help skills by passing, pouring and serving. We reinforce language development through meal-time conversation and interaction.

Mid Morning

Outdoors the children chase bubbles, dig in the sand, swing, slide, roll balls, climb (as appropriate) and master the tricycles. Indoors they choose from a variety of activities that encourage problem solving, muscle coordination and role playing. We offer creative experiences that foster experimentation with different textures and discovery of color and form such as paint, markers and crayons, glue, glitter and playdough. We read stories, sing songs and move to music.


The children wash their hands and help set the table for our family style lunch. The textures, colors, smells, temperatures of the food and table manners are part of our lunchtime conversation. After clearing the table and attending to toileting needs, the children settle down for rest time. We soothe the children to sleep as soft music plays in the background.


As the children wake, they use the toilet or we change their diapers. The children put on their shoes to the best of their ability. We read stories or play with puzzles then wash hands for snack. Outdoors the children run, hop, draw with chalk, paint with large brushes and water, dance with twirling leaves, or look for insects and birds. Inside, we may "cook" in the home center, march with rhythm instruments, sing songs, act out finger plays or whip up a batch of muffins for tomorrow's snack. We continue to assess toileting and diapering needs as appropriate.

Early Evening

We enjoy group games, creative experiences and free play in the early evening. We play outdoors as daylight permits. When you arrive at the Center, please remember to check your child's mailbox for the Daily Note (which describes your child's day), art work and notices. Your child greets you enthusiastically then you get him ready to head home. 

Toilet Learning

We think it is advisable to toilet-train children as soon as they are ready. Staff members will assist you in this endeavor. Cornerstone uses only positive reinforcement of successful effort as a learning tool. No punitive measures are ever taken.

Steps in toilet learning:

  1. The child demonstrates bladder control (consistently dry at diaper checks).
  2. The child wears cloth training pants (not Pull-Ups©).
  3. The child is taken to the toilet at regular intervals.
  4. The child is rewarded for sitting or standing appropriately and especially following productive efforts.
  5. Staff members post and maintain a progress chart. Parents should check the chart daily.
  6. Staff members take "accidents" in stride. Children are immediately changed and encouraged to help clean themselves up.
  7. Parents should provide the Center with several sets of clothing during the training process (including socks, shirts and an extra pair of shoes). Please remember that clothing should be easy for children to put on and take off by themselves.
  8. Soiled clothing will be wrapped, sealed in a plastic bag and placed in the child's cubbie. Parents should check for and remove soiled clothing daily.
  9. Cornerstone maintains some "emergency spare" clothing items. Parents are asked to return laundered "spares" the following day.

Group Organization

Each toddler group is limited to 8 children between the ages of 15 and 35 months. The Head Teacher for the toddlers has overall responsibility for program and supervision. Each group is staffed by the Head Teacher, or a Teacher, an Assistant Teacher or a Teacher's Aide sufficient to maintain the ratio of adult to child at one to four or better.