The Terrible Twos

This series looks at what makes the 2-year-old year so critical and what could be done to better support toddlers in America. The series was produced by The Hechinger Report and Columbia Journalism School’s Teacher Project, nonprofit news organizations focused on education coverage, in partnership with Slate Magazine.

See How Awe-Inspiring — And Awful — 2 Year Olds Can Be

Want to understand just how fast toddlers' brains are developing? Watch this video.

Your 2-year-old is full of potential. Here’s how to develop it

Yes, America needs a child care revolution, but it’s not happening soon. Here are some tips on how to cope in the interim.

A group of 2- and 3-year-olds enjoy a lunch of fish, ratatouille, fresh bread and fruit at a preschool program in Lormont, a suburb of Bordeaux.

What France can teach us about how to to educate the most vulnerable 2-year-olds

A new program in France aims to close the achievement gap by sending underprivileged toddlers to school as early as possible. Will it work?

Marin Felman, 2, smiles as she sits in a toy box at her child care center at the Bank Street College of Education in New York City.

What does a program that costs more than $40,000 a year get your 2-year-old?

Lots of attention from qualified caregivers, purposeful play, and strong relationships with families define this model program for 2-year-olds

Maikko, 2, in pink, Terrance, 1, in red, and Nailah, behind Terrance, dance as their child care provider, Lorna Parks, foreground, claps during a visit by staffers from Detroit's African-American History Museum.

How sexism and old-fashioned ideals hurt child care operators

Home-based care for infants and toddlers isn’t babysitting—it’s hard work.

Should we test all 2-year-olds for autism?

White children routinely get diagnosed much earlier than black and Latino ones. And with earlier diagnoses comes earlier support.

Arif and Meghan Sheikh smile at their younger daughter, Amelia, 1, while picking her up from her child care center. After struggling to find care for their older daughter, the Sheikhs put Amelia’s name on the waiting list here when Meghan was just a few months pregnant.

Regardless of income level, access to quality care for 2-year-olds is tight

With few government supports and an insufficient and expensive private system, finding care for young children in the U.S. is a massive headache for new parents.


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Angelina Salgado, a toddler room teacher, reads a book about colors aloud in the toddler room at the Phoenix, Ariz., branch of a model program for young children called Educare. Most state child care regulations do not require educational activities like reading aloud.

We know how to provide good child care, we just don’t insist on it

A survey of all 50 states shows that most fall behind when enforcing standards of care. Can better regulation help?

Educare Arizona classmates Nathan Jaramillo, far left, Esteban Cuevas and Melissa Gordillo “read” books during free time in their toddler classroom. Children begin learning basic literacy skills, like which direction to turn the pages, around age 2. Lillian Mongeau/The Hechinger Report

Could we improve America by treating 2-year-olds better?

Toddlers are still considered the sole responsibility of their parents, but should society be helping with their care and education?

Clark Tinker, age 2 in this photo, looks up from playing with his toy truck to listen to his mother ask him a question.

What’s it like to be two years old? Fun. Confusing. Unapologetic.

Jumping, complete sentences, an intimate knowledge of trucks and other miracles parents can expect from the ‘terrible twos’