This story is part of a series on 2-year-olds produced by The Hechinger Report and Columbia Journalism School’s Teacher Project, nonprofit news organizations focused on education coverage, in partnership with Slate Magazine.
Imagine that you have just entered a room with 12 2-year-olds in it. Three are using a chair as a drum. Two are taking turns snatching a stuffed teddy bear from each other, and whoever isn’t holding the teddy bear is crying. Two more are quietly looking at books, while another is scribbling in one with a black crayon. One has just had an accident in his newly minted “big boy pants” and you can smell it from where you’re standing. Two are building a block tower that is probably about to fall on top of the one playing with a toy car.