If your child is only 16-17 months at the beginning of the semester, you should plan on entering a FOUNDATIONS class for Newborn to 18 Month olds and transitioning to the LEVEL 2 class for 1.5-3.5 year olds half way through the semester or better yet, staying in FOUNDATIONS the whole semester.

A FOUNDATIONS class is typically full of 8-20 month olds and they’ll be much more confident being the oldest in class than the youngest in class. The LEVEL 2 class is a big jump and we’ve often seen children being overwhelmed with activities they can’t yet do and the adjustment takes a good 4-5 weeks when done at 1.5 years.

Here are some characteristics they should have BEFORE entering LEVEL 2 (1.5-3.5 year olds):

Physical

* Improved walking skills, feet are together, knees flexible  (vs. the “just walker” who has a wide-based, legs apart gate with locked knees)

* Beginning to imitate/explore a variety of traveling movements — run, jump, leap

Cognitive

* Reliably point to correctly identified body parts

* Can follow two-step direction

* Understands what “one” means (vs. a handful)

* Learning to use toys and objects in symbolic ways (moving beyond just enjoyment of sensory properties)

* Can interact in a directed activity

* Able to shift attention with transition

* Connects to an activity; initiates a play sequence

* Reliably responds to own name (refers to self by name in secure environments)

Emotional

* Uses gestures and language to deal with frustration (as opposed to just crying or whining)

* Sustains interest and attention in activity for several minutes (Note: not wanting to give something up, such as bells or sticks, can be a sign of maturation)

Language

* Can express wants and needs symbolically (gestures, words)

* Has vocabulary of at least 40 words; receptive language is still stronger than expressive

* Reading with caregiver becomes cooperative. Child will select book, sit, relate to the story and interact

Social

* Interested in what other children are doing

* Capable of distal communication (i.e. following verbal instructions from farther away)

Musical

* Moves to music, perhaps to steady beat