Being with Infants and Toddlers: A Curriculum that Works
By Beverly A. Kovach, MN
After fifteen years in psychiatric nursing, Beverly Kovach began her early childhood profession with the founding of Little Learners Lodge daycare in 1977. She has spent the past four decades researching and studying best practices as it relates to the care and well-being of children in centers and institutions and is considered an expert in the field. We are excited to announce the launch of Ms. Kovach’s curriculum guide, Being with Infants and Toddlers, in video format.
This course provides early childhood providers with direct access to Beverly Kovach’s expertise in easy to digest chapters of philosophy, body care, play and learning, administration & more. Beverly concretely describes how to integrate the curriculum immediately into childcare situations involving demonstrations by certified Infant and Toddler Teachers.
The course fee of $390.00 includes over five hours of video content and a copy of the curriculum guide Being with Babies and Toddlers. During the promotional period until January 1st, participants will receive the course at the promotional offering of $200.00 which will include the guide and live webinar support.
About Beverly Kovach, MN
Beverly Kovach is a renowned Infant/Toddler Specialists and founder of Little Learners Lodge. Ms. Kovach mentored directly with Magda Gerber and is one of only two North American pedagogues certified by Anna Tardos to train in the Pikler® Model of education for young children. Beverly is published in the field and has authored two books on the topic of infant/todder curriculum. She is a keynote speaker, Trainer of Trainers facilitator, and is certified to train in Montessori (MACTE 0-3), Pikler® and Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE®). She currently serves as President and Founder of Waverly Place providing childcare training and consultation services. Contact: theCHILDcentered@gmail.com
About Little Learners Lodge
Little Learners Lodge provides childcare services for children ages infancy through Kindergarten on a year ‘round daily basis. The center serves as a demonstration site for Beverly Kovach and resource center for educators and parents. Little Learners Lodge provides the video demonstration and bonus features for the video course, Being with Babies and Toddlers.
For more information please contact
Nicole Vigliotti, Executive Director
Little Learners Lodge
208 Church Street
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464 http://www.mmpschool.com
At the 24th Annual RIE Infant/Toddler Conference entitled PROTECTING FREE PLAY IN THE EARLIEST YEARS: WHAT WE CAN DO, I was asked to present on the Role of the Adult at Little Learners Lodge during infant play.
The RIE philosophy of play can look very different from other approaches where the adult role is centered on the teacher as the educator with a planned agenda for the day’s learning. Or where babies are viewed as needing adult initiated stimulation or entertainment. Or, perhaps, where crying or frustration are things to avoid or solve for the child.
Adults facilitating PLAY using the RIE Approach take on the role as Play Facilitator rather than that of orchestrator. When adults attempt to teach play, with the best of intentions we interfere with the infant’s natural and intrinsic play process.
While not centered physically, the adult’s role during play is central- focused first on cultivating a rich and securely attached relationship between baby and her preferred adult. The adult’s play role further includes:
preparing the environment
understanding child development
maintaining play objects
handling disputes as needed
being a frame of reference
being emotionally present in the moment, and
Sometimes you don’t even need to see the adult to observe the Educarer’s (Magda Gerber’s term for the infant educator) presence in the child’s play. Take a few moments to observe Baby G at play. What do you see happening? Why is this possible?
When infants move freely during what Magda Gerber referred to as “Want’s Nothing” time, they do what they know best. They play. This baby is intentional and persevering.
Although not visible in the video, the adult (Alysse) plays a central role in the quality of this baby’s play. Baby G is in a state of well-being having been re-fueled under Alysse’s sensitive and respectful care. G’s play objects have been carefully chosen by her Educarer, simple but increasingly complicated cognitively based on her individual development. Baby G’s parents have been included in the discussion of free play and she is clothed in a way that allows for unrestricted and comfortable exploration.
Observing Baby G at play under the facilitation of her primary caregiver Alysse, we can see she is secure, comfortable, and balanced physically and emotionally. She is able to develop meaningful connections with her play objects as she explores her environment which has been thoughtfully prepared with her individual interests and developmental readiness in mind. Through her self-initiated action, Baby G connects physically and cognitively seemingly teaching herself as she constructs her world.
“A child needs to be in a state of well-being in order to play.” -Beverly Kovach, Author of BEING WITH BABIES
Many times parents feeling pressured to set up their home environment often ask, “Where do I purchase Montessori materials for our house?” I reassure them- it is not necessary to have your home environment mimic the classroom. As a Montessori certified primary teacher, I promise my children’s rooms are not fully equipped Montessori mini classrooms.
The basic concepts of a Montessori classroom, however, can easily be duplicated at home. Simply put- there is a place for everything and everything in it’s place. The external order will cultivate your child’s inner order. Build in opportunities for your child to participate in the care of his home environment and in self care. Basic discipline expectations center around respect of self, others and materials.
Montessori materials extend beyond the cognitive works designed by Maria Montessori and, in fact, a child’s success working with the specially designed Montessori curriculum greatly depends on how deeply his care, order, independence and coordination have been cultivated in Practical Life and Sensorial. These curriculum areas can easily be adapted at home.
The prepared home environment which cultivates an understanding of earth science, of practical living skills, and of self care and regulation will best prepare your child for school readiness. Some ideas that you’ll find in our Primary Classroom that can easily be adapted in the Home Environment inlcude-
1. A child friendly TOOL BOX equipped with hammer, small nails/tacks, duct tape, screws, and safety gear (adult and child size).
2. Child friendly kitchen spaces allow your child to participate in meal preparation independently. Vegetables are a great first start and the space should include peelers, bowls, mixer, cutting board, child cutting tool, scrubber, pitcher, and toaster oven. Don’t forget the environment with clean up materials as well.
3. A small box garden with soil, seeds, watering can, and spade. The garden directly ties into the Home Kitchen environment and can extend as far as the parent is willing to include worms, composting, and winter indoor sprouts.
4. A first aid kit for your child complete with mirror, tissues, thermometer, wipes, and band aides.
5. A quiet place for reflection. This can be a pillow tucked away in a corner, netting hanging from the ceiling, or a small tent. Your imagination will guide you- home water gardens, a small fish tank, crystals, window mosaics…
The internet will provide you loads of inspiration. Our favorite sources outside the Montessori world include:
I’m excited to tell you that we are expecting a baby in August! We haven’t told Joseph the news yet, and if you have any suggested reading material on how best to handle this transition for a sibling, please feel free to suggest. Also, I anticipate returning to work after maternity leave in mid-late November. We would be most appreciative if you would place us on the list for a spot in the infant room.
Thank you! Beth and Christain
What great news! Hope you have a refreshing pool to swim in this summer.
This is a transition for the whole family that will continue well
beyond August and it’s so smart of you to think ahead about it.
Joseph is at a great age for understanding needs of others as your
body, energy and availability changes and affects what you can or
cannot do. We typically recommend waiting as long as you can to
start talking about it and that will depend a bit on you. When you
have to make changes in your day that he might notice then it would be
a good time to let him know that you have a baby growing inside of
you. He is closest to you and can empathize with you needing to do
things to take care of your body (rest, eat a healthy snack, drink
lots of water, exercise, etc.)
There are great books with photos to have available (we keep one in a
basket next to Ms. Amy, there’s another one in the Parent Resource
library) and you can even create a timeline with ultrasound photos.
If he is interested you can take this further and talk about what
parts of the body are forming but be sensitive to how much you talk
about it. Afterall, this is an unknown for him and it can cause
anxiety. I remember one little boy said he would name his baby
penguin when she was born because he didn’t want a sister but he did
want a penguin.
In addition, it helps to think about what environmental changes you
will be making and if any of them affect his own space (for example,
will he have to give up a play space/sleeping space etc.) make them
now for reasons that are unrelated to the baby rather than last minute
to avoid him being resentful and putting him out. Also, think ahead
about consistency when the baby arrives to ideally keep his life very
consistent through that time.
Regardless of how sensitive you are and how much you prepare, he has
been an only child all of his life and he will be de-throned shortly
(and you will be adjusting to splitting your time between two
children). You will all feel all kinds of emotions about that and
should be allowed to within the expectations of respect. Take it slow
and resource those who are close to your family (us included). We
will maintain his school experience as his own and follow his lead on
talking about it (or not;) while he makes his own adjustment.
Hope this is helpful and hope you are feeling well right now!
In the ’70s, still relatively few families involved both parents working and if they did, extended family often took care of the little ones. My parents, however, were members of a growing group of transplants without extended family who relied on two incomes to make finances work. At the time, daycare options were limited. High quality care was virtually non-existent.
It wasn’t until I was 8 years old that my mom finally had enough. A family therapist by profession, she couldn’t believe the challenges working families faced in finding a center with regard for CARING for young children. Although her own children had aged out of a pre-school need, my mom’s mental health background fairly screamed, “If you want to make a difference, start with children.”
In 1977 (77 being my parents’ lucky number) they dove in the deep end and to this day, both remain active in advocating for quality preschool education and support of early childhood professionals.
During the late 90s, in search of more meaningful work, I left the international commodity export trading industry to check out the daycare my family still owned in Charleston, SC. Over the past 15 years, I’ve come to recognize that while the center does provide childcare services, the word “daycare” doesn’t come close to describing the work going on here. I’m saddened by the idea, however, that even after all these decades many of our children still only have daycare options available to support working parents. The long term ramifications affect the very fabric of our society.
What do I mean by DAYCARE?
The best way for me to describe the difference between “daycare” and “early childhood experience” is to turn back to my first professional experiences as a food commodity trader where I sold frozen chicken- both as a commodity and the further processed value added versions- by the container.
When you evaluate childcare options as a commodity, the assumption is that all centers are equal. As such, the only concerns would be- what is your tuition? and- how much can I get for that price, or what are your hours of operation?
While tuition and hours of operation certainly play into a family’s ability to afford or work the care into their professional lives, our experience has been that extended hours and lower tuition correlates to the quality of care your child will receive while away from her home.
Extended hours often mean children shuffle from room to room as teachers stagger in for their eight hour day. Young children may find themselves in unfamiliar environments, with unfamiliar adults, amongst unfamiliar children of a broad age range. Lower tuition typically relates to lower wages and professional development and benefits for the early childhood caregiver. Both- extended hours and lower tuition- end up equating to teacher burnout and higher turnover.
An additional $1.00/day even for small schools with enrollment under 80 families can afford your preschool flexibility to lower ratios, add curriculum enhancements, or increase teacher benefits adding to the well-being of its community.
Research continues to pour forth validating the critical importance of the formative years and the return on investment society reaps in providing a stable infrastructure for a quality early childhood experience. Paradigms are shifting- our children are our greatest resource, the most valued of products we can produce. Yet still, for the most part, the burden of treating them as such rests on the professionals and parents willing and able to deliver.
Parents on the hunt for childcare balancing the fiscal, practical and ideal can arm themselves with additional evaluative measures outside price and hours in making their assessments. Consider-
1. Size matters: schools with larger enrollment have a more difficult time offering cohesion in quality. It is difficult getting to know families, children and faculty members as resources are pulled managing the administrative needs of large groups.
2. Administration guides school leadership: what are their qualifications and how long have they served the program? Often school administrators have little classroom experience which can inhibit their ability to resource teachers and parents.
3. Facility investment: do you see evidence of continued facility improvements? Facility upgrades and curriculum additions demonstrate a continued investment on the part of the school leadership.
4. Continued adult education: in addition to teacher credentials, what was the last training offered and why? Are parents encouraged to attend? Most states require a minimal number of continued adult education hours for early childhood professionals. Evidence that teachers are encouraged to extend training above these minimal requirements is a great indicator of how they are valued.
5. Teacher retention: many believe that it takes at least five years to become a good early childhood professional. Find out the tenure of your preschool’s teaching team. Turnover directly affects the quality of any program negatively.
On our part, you’ll find our tuition and fee schedule non-published. It is shared in person upon touring the facilities in an effort to help provide parents much of the information they will need in making their assessment on who will care and provide for their child when they are away.
A special thanks to David Vigliotti for capturing our moments together at Little Learners Lodge and Montessori of Mount Pleasant. Even before joining the teaching team in 2001, it is obvious through his photos that David has always shared an appreciation for the beauty presented in childhood and the dedication of parents and educators providing for young children.