An environment of “yes” means that everything infants and toddlers can get their hands on is safe and acceptable for them to use. One way to ensure this is to for adults to do ongoing safety checks in group care spaces and provide families with information about doing safety checks of their own. The teacher, home visitor, and the child’s family play a vital role in making sure everything is safe, then stepping back to allow exploration. Sometimes infants and toddlers will use materials in creative ways that surprise us! When teachers feel uncomfortable about an activity, they should stop and ask themselves two questions:
Is it dangerous?
What are the children learning from this experience?
If it is decided that the activity is safe with supervision, they should stay nearby. They should be thoughtful and open to what the children might be learning. If the activity is not safe, they need to consider what else might address the infants’ and toddlers’ curiosity in the same way. For example, if young toddlers are delighted to discover that by shaking their sippy cups, liquid comes out; a teacher may be worried that this water on the floor will lead to a slippery accident. Instead, they might provide squeeze bottles outside or at the water table. The adult is responsible for keeping children safe and encouraging learning through curiosity.