Category Archives: Pikler

Introducing New Providers to Respectful Caregiving in a Daycare Setting: Observation

The Observation Process

After completing the Interview Process, prospective teachers have an opportunity to continue learning about the center’s respectful caregiving model by attending a series of observations.  This part of recruitment is considered training and candidates are paid portions of their observation time.

The Observation Process typically looks like:

  • Day 1 (2.5-3 hours) – Observe 30-45 minutes in each environment with special attention given to adult/child interactions and language. Followed up with Q&A and discussion with a member of the Administrative Team. This helps us gauge a candidates interest and level of enthusiasm for the approach.

 

  • Day 2 (4 hours) – Work alongside the Assistant Director during morning environmental preparation time. This is an opportunity to communicate outside the classroom and share casually observations or ask questions with a veteran teacher not directly involved in the observation. It also affords us the opportunity to tailor the upcoming two hour observation later that morning which is held primarily in the environment with the teacher opening. Guidelines may include tasking prospective teachers with objectively detailing one child’s gross motor development over a 10 minute period, making note of play objects in the environment, watching a two body care routines for a comparison/contrast, etc. Always we follow up with “What did you like?” “What would you change?” “How did you feel?”

 

  • Day 3 (8 hours)- Day 3 is the last day of the interview process before candidates may be formally offered an internship. During this full-day together, prospective teachers get a feel for what goes on behind the scenes in facilitating the daily operations at the center. The ENVIRONMENT, as the “third teacher”, becomes the focal point of this training work day with time spent with school administrators, mentor veteran teachers, and other members of the teaching community. It’s a day of morning set-up, lunch preparation, cleaning and maintenance, ups & downs, dishwashing, reading and video viewing and most important OBSERVATION. Our final discussion together provides the biggest insight on a candidates compatibility with the center. What did he/she observe during what others may feel are menial tasks in our profession?

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One of the greatest benefits to the entire process is the feedback we receive from prospective teachers during the observation process.  Not only does the observation provide fresh eyes is assessment; it affords us a glimpse into a person’s natural ability to appreciate the essence of these earliest stages in human development. We’ve found the candidate’s natural observational abilities the best indicator for longevity as an early childhood professional.

When a teacher completes the Observation Process he/she will begin as an Intern within the center gleaning those those fine details that define a respectful approach to early childhood education. As new teachers build an understanding for the approach, develop a relationship with the children, and integrate into the center social fabric, they find the best ways to make meaningful contributions to the team as they learn are through environmental care and preparation and through sharing their daily observations.

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Recently, Ms. Debbie (new to us, but not new to the field) shared her observations as we discussed the topic of IF, WHEN, and HOW TO INTERCEDE. 

I heard a fly buzzing in the window. My first instinct? Catch that little sucker.

However, once I saw Johanna light up with joy at the site of what I once thought was just a pesky little critter, I stopped. I watched. I observed.

Her face lit up with joy as she pointed and laughed out loud, “A bug! Buggg!”

Why interrupt this moment?

I watched her as she looked up and down the window, quickly moving from one side to the other. Her eyes wide, smiling big, laughing out loud with excitement.

“A bug!”, she said proudly as her finger pointed and her eyes watched closely, following each movement. Every movement the critter made was a call for celebration and laughter.

It is in this moment that we must stop and remind ourselves the importance of these teachable moments. What may seem like a cause of annoyance for an adult is a cause for celebration and discovery for a child.

It is all about perspective, truly. It is in these moments that adults can learn to appreciate the joy of discovery. The world is big, it is vast, but even something as small as a fly in the window can teach us an important lesson in learning to appreciate the little things in life. Yes, even a fly buzzing in the window.

Know what drew us to Debbie during her interview process? Her interest in photography. Our gut told us that a good photographer has the patience to wait for the subject to reveal himself. A good photographer finds the art in the details that are often overlooked. A good photographer is a great observer.

All the experience in the world… all the reading and education… all the love of children can not replace the effectiveness of an astute observer. Looking for a great caregiver for your little one or for your center? Look for a great observer first.

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Five Warning Signs During the Observation Process

  1. You ask what was they observed, and they say “It was good.”  It’s important that the early childhood professional is able to articulate what they are observing. The answer doesn’t need to be in line with center policy, what is important is that the candidate is able to stay present during the observation time to provide concrete examples of what they are witnessing. Future teachers will need the ability to communicate observations to parents.
  2. Observations are over subjective. Making objective observations can be a challenge; however, if your observer is overly subjective quantifying the child as “cute,” “bored,” or “happy” you might want to dig deeper. What was it about the child that you felt was cute? Why did you think he was bored? How did you know the baby was happy?
  3. Observer leaves the environment before the end of the observation period. We allow for at least twenty minutes of observation in each environment to afford observers the opportunity to witness several interactions and at least one body care routine. If an observer cuts this time short by leaving the environment, it’s a clear indicator that they do not value observation- something that is essential to our daily practice.
  4. Observer has all the answers. Sometimes a candidate feels that they already have all of the experience and knowledge as a childcare provider. Often times, these observers pre-describe childcare routines and expectations following their observation period with something akin to, “Yes, that’s what I expected/knew what would be going on.” In reality, good observers learn each moment they are with the children. If an observer didn’t one thing within a child or community that was new, interesting, or exciting for him/her, it may be an indication that their mind is already closed to future learning. Good teachers are life long learners themselves.
  5. Observer interacts with the children or teachers while observing. We coach our observers before entering the environment to be “a fly on the wall.” It is rare with infants, but if a child were to approach, please acknowledge (a smile works great) and return to your task of observing. At this time, observers do not have a relationship with the children and so we want to pay special care that the child feels safe and secure with their primary. Observers that over engage during this process often lack the security or ability to be still, do less, and enjoy most.

 

Preparing for Safe Sleep

Being with Infants: Episode 15 SLEEP  caused quite a bit of a stir for some that watched.

“Why do you have a blanket in the crib?”

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Some might think that an odd question- why wouldn’t you have a blanket in the crib?  Yet, others, question its safety.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, creating a safe sleep environment includes:

 

  • Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
  • Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
  • Avoid baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.

Whether or not your baby may permitted to have a blanket in the crib at the Center has become a matter of public policy. Some states have dis-allowed licensed facilities the use of blankets in bed after this research conduced by the AAP.  Others, like the state of South Carolina where the Being with Infants video curriculum guide was filmed, do allow for blankets in cribs .

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At the Center, we pay particular interest in this part of our body care routines. Letting go and allowing oneself to release into the most vulnerable position within an institution of what are first strangers is the most challenging part of our day. No one script exists for each child, as family culture plays the most critical role.

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Was the baby rocked to sleep?

Does she listen to music or does white noise play in the background?

Does he doze off while nursing?

Is the room very dark? Very quiet?

Does the baby sleep alone or with a parent?

Not all of these routines and rituals can be duplicated at the Center. Complicating matters, in the interest of safety, we are required to follow the policies and procedures of our state licensing agencies regardless of family culture. In doing so, the question that often comes up is, “Can we…?”

Rather, the question might be, “Should we…?

Such is the case with allowing for blankets in the crib. We decided to revisit some of our earlier video of an older infant letting go to sleep to evaluate the child’s well-being and safety.

Two things became obvious to us in re-watching this video. One, the blanket had become untucked and had enveloped the child as she transitioned to rest. It did not cover her head and she was not alone, but what if the caregiver had been distracted. What if the blanket had gone over her head and the child went into distress.

Yet, the child incorporated the blanket in her self-regulation routines to peacefully let go to sleep. As far as well-being is concerned, this Little One seemingly needs the blanket as a transitional item. According to Healthy Children.org:

“These special comforts are called transitional objects, because they help children make the emotional transition from dependence to independence. They work, in part, because they feel good: They’re soft, cuddly, and nice to touch. They’re also effective because of their familiarity. This so-called lovey has your child’s scent on it, and it reminds him of the comfort and security of his own room. It makes him feel that everything is going to be okay.”

That’s exactly what we need in centers and institutions! So, where’s the compromise?

We asked our friends at Pikler® and RIE® to weigh in on the topic. Combining their input, we’ve come up with the following soon-to-be implemented policy at the Center.

Facilitating Sleep at the Center

  • Infants in cribs will be provided sleep sack as a cover and perimeter while resting in lieu of a blanket.
  • Infants in cribs will be provided a transitional cloth which they can have access to throughout the day. Upon sleeping, this cloth shall be removed by the provider and stored within eyesight of the child.
  • Infants transitioning to rest mats (at least one year of age or older) may be allowed an additional blanket/lovey for rest
  • Parents will be included in Safe Sleep Discussions during regularly scheduled Center Community Meetings

How do you facilitate safe and peaceful sleep routines at your center? What would you add to the above? What might you change?

 

Additional References:

Recommended Sleep Sack

Sample Transitional Cloth

The Science Behind Safe Sleep Recommendation

When to Let Your Toddler Sleep with a Blanket

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

 

 

 

Leading Early Childhood Center Promotes “Education from Birth” with Innovative Infant Video Curriculum Guide

March 6, 2017

Being with Infants: A Curriculum that Works for Caregivers (video series) by Beverly Kovach

MACTE accredited 0-3 Teacher Trainer, Pikler® Certified Pedagoge Instructor, and RIE® Associate and certified Foundations® Instructor

About the series

A 3+hour unique video training series linking early childhood providers with direct access to a comprehensive care approach. Beverly Kovach author of Being with Babies, Being with Infant and Toddlers: A Curriculum that Works for Caregivers, and numerous nationally published articles facilitates the series as caregivers demonstrate putting theories into daily best practice.

Beverly developed her theories and practices as a Fellow of Magda Gerber and under mentorship with Anna Tardos. She refined these techniques to be used within the daycare she founded in 1977, Little Learners Lodge. Current caregivers of Little Learners Lodge provide the video demonstrations for this series.

One of the greatest challenges in working with children in institutions is developing a congruent approach amongst adults as they balance the child’s emotional well-being within the guidelines of policies and procedures. This video series brings providers together in the discussion utilizing the expertise of today’s leading practitioners.

Being with Infants: A Curriculum that Works for Caregivers (video series) combines four decades of learning and presents it into easy-to-digest chapters. Demonstrations include supporting infants in transitional positions, bottle and lap feeding, sequencing to sleep, and peaceful diapering. The series also provides caregivers and centers the necessary tools to integrate the method into their own daily routines allowing each child to thrive, develop, and learn individually.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 10.26.54 AMAvailable for purchase or rent on demand via https://vimeo.com/ondemand/lllinfants. Get the entire series and receive a $40 discount and three bonus features. Organizations interested in becoming an affiliate (10% of sales) should contact  theRIEway@gmail.com for details.

What makes this video different

  • First of its kind
  • Complete introductory course of instruction specific to infant care
  • Demonstrates the daily implementation of three “best practices”
  • Well organized and easy to understand
  • Closed Captioned
  • New information for providers working with children in institutions
  • Affordable
  • Presented by childcare professionals for childcare professionals

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Who should view content

  • Caregivers
  • Teacher Trainers
  • School Owners and Administrators
  • Public Providers
  • Parents
  • Those working with infants at risk
  • Policy Makers

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About Beverly Kovach, R.N., M.N.

Beverly has been working with and consulting in early childhood centers for more than 40 years. She is MACTE accredited to train at the 0-3 level and is one of two teacher trainers certified by Anna Tardos to facilitate Pikler® intensives in North America.  Mentored by Magda Gerber, Beverly is a leading RIE® Foundations and established the first RIE® satellite training center in Melbourne, Florida. She currently serves as Vice President of the Pikler®USA Board and is a regular presenter at national and international conferences. The center Beverly founded in 1977, Little Learners Lodge, became the first RIE® certified center on the East Coast. The center serves as a demonstration site for daily implementation and paraprofessional trainings as it cares for children ages infants through Kindergarten.

In Care of Infants: A Relationship Based Curriculum

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Introduction to Pikler® Pedagogy Engaging with Infants and Toddlers through Respectful and Peaceful Care. It was interesting to learn that much of the work started by Dr. Emmi Pikler was introduced to the United States by way of Magda Gerber. This was my first training opportunity to receive information through the lenses of both a mother and caregiver.

One of the many informative topics discussed were the components that make up the infant and toddler curriculum. When teaching through peaceful and respectful care this curriculum is composed of the relationship between the environment, the caregiver, and the child. It was not until my time in a child centered environment that I realized just how beneficial to the development of the whole child a relationship based curriculum can be.

A relationship based approach for infants and toddlers focuses on developmentally appropriate concepts such as building trust, care for self, and positive social interactions. Skills which have a positive overall effect on all learning moving forward. A properly prepared environment leads to opportunities for developmentally appropriate discovery and learning to occur according to the child’s interests and readiness. The curriculum based on the synergy between a prepared environment, the caregiver, and child allows for care that is respectful, responsive, and reciprocal. This approach can be equally beneficial in the home environment.

During my time spent in more traditional early childhood environments, it was all too common to see early toddler curriculums centered on things such as handwriting, student assessments, lesson plans for math concepts, and crafts that had been chosen for the children weeks in advance. There was a lot of time and focus spent on simply walking in a straight line.

In the words of Magda Gerber, “Why do we expect what the child cannot do, and not appreciate what the child can do?”

As parents and caregivers if we are able to take time and be in the moment, we are better able to respond according to the situation at hand. When caring for children it can become easy to get in the habit of simply “going through the motions”. Being responsive and reciprocal may mean having to take an extra three minutes to help the baby calm down before starting a diaper change. Or for me, waking up ten minutes earlier for a smoother morning transition from home to school.

The ability to be fully present leads to providing care that is more accurately responsive and reciprocal to what our children are trying to tell us. Positive relationships built on trust with our children and students provide them with a secure foundation from which they can begin to learn from their environment and trust people within it.

Pikler said “As a matter of principle, we refrain from teaching skills and activities which, under suitable conditions, will evolve through the child’s own initiative and independent activity.”

Here’s a link for more information on  Pikler®USA and to link up with putting the theories into daily center practices, check out Little Learners Lodge.

(Post by Ms. Summer former Little Learners Lodge teacher and new mom)

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