Authentic Caregiving in Centers

Authenticity: authentic caregivers, authentic baby

The RIE® method is one that makes caregiving a pleasant experience for every party involved. One of the ways this concept is best demonstrated is through the belief and practice of authenticity that Beverly Kovach discusses in her video series, Being with Infants.

As caregivers, we understand that children are coming to school on their good days as well as their bad days. For the most part, we are able to keep our expectations for them at an appropriate level. That means that we don’t expect the children to just stop being tired, stop being upset, or do anything to repress their mood on their own.

The Greeting

In my experience in centers, most adults feel the complete opposite way when it concerns themselves. Perhaps they didn’t sleep well the night before. Perhaps they are going through a situation that is causing them emotional turmoil. Despite the way they are feeling, they feel they must put on a happy face in order to be with the children.

Children can easily feel the tension in our bodies and have insight to what we are feeling – even if we don’t want to admit our feelings! Having a tensed and stressed body while having a smiling face can be confusing to any child and send them mixed messages. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to be honest with the children you are caring for? This not only helps the caregivers by being honest with her emotions, but also teaches the children about their emotions and empathy for others.

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In Magda Gerber’s book, Your Self-Confident Baby, she tells a story about a mother who learned to be authentic with her daughter. When the daughter was sick, of course the mother cared for her. When the mother got sick, she was honest with her daughter from the start. “I hear you crying, I want to give you what you need, but right now I don’t feel well.” The mother said the daughter was less demanding than she was ordinarily!

Children understand more than most caregivers might think they do. We can be authentic and honest with them.

Note: Thank you, Ms. Rebekah for sharing your thoughts on Authenticity: authentic caregivers, authentic baby. Ms. Rebekah began working with infants at the center May 2017

Sources:

Being with Infants Video Guide

Your Self Confident Baby

Introducing New Providers to Respectful Caregiving in a Daycare Setting

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The Interview Process

The process of recruiting and training the next generation of early childhood providers can be both the most exhausting and the most rewarding part of our profession. Often we hear, “I love children” from those considering entering the field. But do you know why you love being with children?

While loving the company of children provides a good start, a child in your care will demand much more from you. Working with groups of children in an institution requires the caregiver be well-versed in state laws and regulations ensuring each child’s health and safety. It may require hours on your feet, squatting, or on your hands and knees. At times, you’ll scrub dishes, wipe up floors, catch all the latest viruses, be covered in poo, deal with upset parents- or worse, upset co-teachers. The best early childhood teachers maintain a strong inner presence and calmness through all of this, modeling peace and security towards those in her presence.

They are aware of every child even as they are fully present with an individual in need. Teachers must have the ability to collaborate with other teachers who have a varied belief system regarding children. And they must respectfully communicate and partner with an even larger group of parents, grandparents and family friends all wanting what is best for a child. Through the course of their time spent working with young children, the early childhood professional will be challenged physically, emotionally and cognitively to balance her many duties in supporting the well-being of what is, at first, a stranger’s baby. And she must do this within a social culture seemingly having little care for her profession with long hours, little benefits, and minimal pay.

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When you find someone that has the character and capacity to do all of that, well- that’s exciting.

And also a little dreadful. Will they make it? Next to the fast food industry, child centers have one the highest rates of employee turnover.

In introducing new providers to respectful caregiving in a daycare setting, our first step is being honest with the requirements of the profession. We spend considerable time together at the onset ensuring that new teachers have the information they need to make an informed and honest decision. This is a matter of utmost importance for especially in these early years, young children need to rely on the adults in their lives. The caregiver must be there today and tomorrow. And teachers must be provided the support and tools to ensure each child within the institution feels accepted, valued, safe and free to learn.

Recently, our center went through a tough spell along this process with an unprecedented amount of new teachers leaving after only being with us a short bit. It has caused us to do some soul searching and revisit our introductory time together with teachers new to our center community.

Introducing New Providers to Respectful Caregiving in Daycare Settings must involve first, the interview process. At the center, we include the following in the process:

  1. First contact: the interview process begins by placing a carefully worded job description for potential candidates. Resumes are reviewed with an emphasis placed on where applicants are spending their free time and studies. A central administrator contacts possible candidates and discusses in detail the center history, philosophy, position details, vision and how applicants can obtain more information online about our offering.
  2. Second contact: applicants meet with a school director and at least one other administrator (separately) and have an opportunity to share their beliefs on child development, long-range plans, and what they have learned about our program offering online. Not a good sign if they haven’t checked us out- in fact, if they haven’t done their own research, we will write down several links for them read or demonstrations to watch. This part of the process needs to occur prior to the third contact. After meeting, the two administrators get together to share notes.
  3. Third contact: if a candidate seems to be a good fit and has done some online research, we will move to the “third contact” during the same interview time as above. If a teacher has been asked to do additional digging and returns contact with us to pursue learning more, we will arrange a third interview. This process involves a tour and observation of the facilities- regardless of age, each candidate will have an opportunity to observe at each developmental plane infancy through 5K as the center is all connected. After sharing observations, candidates are asked if they would like to continue the process depending on their natural observational skills. At this time references are checked, necessary DSS paperwork gets completed, and paid training opportunities at the center become available on a part-time basis.
  4. Paid Observational Training: candidates begin their training at our center’s hub, the kitchen. The kitchen connects all of our environments for the way we share meals with infants and young children is an integral part of our curriculum. Side-by-side administrator, co-teachers, and school owners wash dishes, prepare meals, and attend to the laundry. Here we have an opportunity to connect with the many adults comprising the center faculty. Each has an opportunity to share personally and professionally and candidates are able to contribute to the workload without yet directly working with the children. In the classroom, new teachers warm-in slowly tasked with observation, note taking, and environment preparation.

This interview process takes at least one to two weeks. At the close of the observational training, we meet again with new teachers to discuss the experience. The last question being, “Are you interested in making this work part of your profession?” with an emphasis on it being a one to two year minimal commitment.

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Photo: David Vigliotti

With a “yes”, we move onto the next phase of Introducing New Providers to Respectful Caregiving in a Daycare Setting- the observation.

We would love to hear how you recruit and retain early childhood professionals. What would you add to the above? What would you change?

Resources:

Recruitment Ad Sample

Daycare Turnover Research

 

 

 

Self-Care

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A few months ago, the idea of writing about my self-care routine as a new mom was presented to me.

My initial thoughts were something along the lines of  “. . . self-care routine? As in something “nice” I do for myself regularly? I couldn’t possibly write about this right now. I’m exclusively breastfeeding, and life pretty much revolves around taking care of Archer 24/7.. . .there’s not much self-care involved in my routine.”

As a first time mom, I had an idea of how EVERYTHING should go. I got my gym membership two weeks before Archer was born, brought glass bottles, a jogging stroller, and signed my husband and myself up for any childbirth and new parenting classes that were being offered in the immediate area.

Then, our son was born.

RIE Baby
Photo: David Vigliotti

Fast forward a couple of months and I think I’ve found my niche.

As he continues to grow older and in turn gains more independence I’m finding self-care to be easier, and more enjoyable. After preparing the environment, Archer is now independent enough to move on his own allowing him to enjoy time alone while I do things I enjoy. Most of the time it may be things such as tending to the garden, or preparing a new meal that may take a while longer. I have continued to nurse, but the introduction of solid foods has even allowed me ten to twenty more minutes of time for myself each day; and sometimes that’s all that’s needed. Making self-care a priority has been beneficial because it gives me a moment to check-in with myself, continue enjoyable hobbies, and make sure that my needs are being met. Taking this time also allows the child time to explore independently, interact socially with other children or adults, and have his own experiences.  Self-care will undoubtedly look differently for everyone, based on personal needs. These routines may even fluctuate based on the needs of the children in our care if we are practicing a more child-centered approach, however, I’ve found it to be a very important part of being able to be fully present while caring for my son.

“Raising children is not easy, and it’s important to take care of yourself.” -Magda Gerber page 61 Your Self Confident Baby under the chapter Go Out, Have Fun

  • A bike ride around the block
  • Long showers with my favorite music playing (so I know for a fact that I didn’t just hear the baby cry!)
  • Tending to the garden
  • Watching an uninterrupted episode of my favorite TV show
  • Enjoying a cup of coffee on the porch, or while checking out my aquarium