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

 

Trusting the Child

One day as I was scrolling through a social media feed I stumbled across a quote that said, “You cannot make a flower bloom faster by pulling it.” I felt like this was a statement that most people could easily agree with in terms of flowers; but how about applying the same idea to the child? Each child will bloom in his or her own time when their needs are properly met and without the use of force. This requires a certain level of trust in the child and their abilities.

When our son was born his feet turned in pretty severely. As a first time Dad, and eager to make his mark he was pretty persistent in wanting to teach our son to straighten his feet and push off. His reason being. . . “Well if he can crawl faster, then he can walk faster and be ahead.” Shamefully my response was a little less than kind at just two weeks post-partum, however the fact of the matter is that this is a very popular belief. We are lead to believe that faster and sooner are always better. Walk faster, read faster, sleep through the night sooner, the list goes on. When we take that stance, it’s easy to assume that the child needs specific direction, coaxing, or force in order to develop a skill that would otherwise emerge naturally in due time.
DSC_8930 We can often feel the need to be in control, which leads to a lack of trust in the child, and a more adult centered approach. In some cases our need to instruct can be more of a hindrance than a help. During the Pikler® conference (mentioned in a previous post) we performed an experiential to better illustrate this concept. We were placed in pairs, and given a chair. One person was to act as the adult, and the other a child. On the first round the adult was asked to tell the child what to do in order to climb onto the chair. For the second round the child was supposed to climb onto the chair without specific instruction, and the adult was there for support and guidance if needed. After round one when  asked how they felt, many people described the experience as being more challenging because they knew what needed to be done in order to accomplish the task but they began to feel nervous, scared, or second guess themselves based on the actions of the adult. When left to climb onto the chair on their own with the adult as an observer they stated that they felt more confident in their movements, relaxed, and knew that if they needed the help it was available.  Both in the classroom and at home, this idea of natural development and blossoming serves as a reminder to trust in the ability of the child. As parents and caregivers we can help our children to blossom by supporting their needs at the moment verses pulling them towards where we feel they should be.

“Nature never hurries, yet everything is accomplished”- Lao Tzu

 

For more information on this methodology, feel free to check out the websites listed below:

https://pikler.org

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/lllinfants

http://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/200409/Gonzalez.pdf

Starting with Respect

 

October 29th 2016, I became a new mother. Over the past few months there have been many shifts in both my work, and perspective of the relationship between the child and the adult. Nearing the end of my pregnancy I became eager for a new opportunity to observe the child. I began looking forward to applying the things I learned through RIE ® and time spent in the classroom in my own home. I quickly noted that raising my own child would be the greatest opportunity to be authentic and to raise an authentic child who is peaceful, cooperative, and inner-directed. In the early stages of infancy, the child begins to shape his understanding of the world, and himself based on the environment and the people in it. We are role models for our children. We are helping to awaken the hearts and minds of children who will then, go out and have an influence on others. On several occasions, my son has been referred to as “just a baby”, this is something I often find surprising.

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Just; as in only or simply?

From the perspective of both a mother and caregiver this saying strikes a sore spot for me. Not only does it come off as dismissive, but it also implies that somehow the child is considered less than.

“Let us realize that the child is the worker who produces man . . . it is the child that society must take into consideration, this worker who produces humanity itself.”-Maria Montessori

Our actions as parents, teachers, or members of a community are far reaching. With each word, acknowledgement, and touch we are sending messages that will help to build up, or tear down the growing sense of self within our children.  Modeling behavior not only sets an example for our children, but for other adults who may not be familiar with a more respectful approach.

So what can we do?

We can begin by treating the child with respect. We speak respectfully of children, and infants, as people of equal value. Not as “just” a child, or “just” a baby. Regarding children with respect helps the child to learn that they are worthy of receiving respect, and sets a positive example of how to treat others.  We may also model respectful behavior by acknowledging our children’s feelings. This includes their likes and dislikes. Acknowledging our children in this way sends the message that they are respected as individuals with feelings that may differ from our own.

All of this is not to say that there are no boundaries or limits. We know that children need freedom within limits to maintain safety and order. However, it is possible to maintain this order while still providing a respectful environment in which the child can thrive. In The Absorbent Mind Montessori states that, “Nature does not merely give the power of imitation, but that of transforming oneself to become what the example demonstrates.” We must be the positive examples on which our children can base their understanding of their own value and the world around them.

“Respecting a child means treating even the youngest infant as a unique human being, not as an object.”- Magda Gerber

summer and archer kids fair 2017

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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