Because the work I do with very young chil­dren is so well inte­grat­ed with­in the child and its dai­ly life when in a one-to-one care basis, I’ve rarely had to sep­a­rate the ter­mi­nol­o­gy of each lit­tle facet of how it all comes togeth­er. I sim­ply expect a child of 18 months to 2 years to be hap­pi­ly absorbed and have joint atten­tion with me on any activ­i­ty we do togeth­er (usu­al­ly of the child’s choosing).

How­ev­er, after work­ing for near­ly two years in a full time day­care pro­gramme, I now realise that in the day­care set­ting, where there isn’t/can’t be one-to-one staff:child ratio, joint atten­tion rarely occurs and it will spe­cial­ly not be fos­tered with inex­pe­ri­enced staff.

Spend­ing time in an envi­ron­ment that bare­ly under­stands the foun­da­tion needs of young chil­dren: being clean, dry, well fed and with suf­fi­cient to drink, not for­get­ting appro­pri­ate hold­ing when need­ed — hold­ing often isn’t per­mit­ted under the guise of ‘not hold­ing chil­dren encour­ages inde­pen­dence’ — removes the pos­si­bil­i­ty of the major­i­ty of chil­dren hav­ing joint attention.

Those that show joint atten­tion from about 9 or 10 months of age, for exam­ple when read­ing a favourite book or involved with an activ­i­ty with a teacher, are usu­al­ly the ones who spend more time doing such things with their parents. 

Joint atten­tion does­n’t hap­pen by accident!