Tag Archives: Beverly Kovach

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.


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


Being with Infants Video Guide

Your Self Confident Baby

Cultivating Cooperation in Center Base Care- what works and what doesn’t

Cultivating Cooperation with infants and toddlers at home or in center base care requires an investment in time with focus on continuity in routines and relationships. Continuity being the cornerstone.

In center base care, continuity also being the crux.

Unlike its professional counterparts of the 1920s, the early childhood frontline caregiver remains underpaid, under supported, and under valued by the mainstream. As a result, continuity- keeping the early childhood professional happy, fed and resourced in the field- remains the number one challenge in center base care.

Yet, without a stable and reliable primary caregiver spanning the first two or three years, toddlers are less likely to spontaneously cooperate. Why is that important?

Cooperation demonstrates an individual’s sense of belonging to the group (society) by demonstrating that person’s desire to contribute to the betterment of her community. Along Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs, it smacks right at the center.


What does spontaneous cooperation in center base care look like?

Let’s take a look at a group of 8 Early Toddlers ranging in age from 13mths – 19mths as they come together to put on their shoes and venture outdoors under the guidance of their two caregivers. Warning: it’s an almost 10 minute observation, but I’ve had a hard time taking out even a minute, even those first few shoe chomping ones.

Early Toddler Cooperation from MMP School on Vimeo.

“Cooperation is an invitation; otherwise, it’s not cooperation.” -Anna Tardos

Remarkably, even though the door is wide open, each child chooses to stay with the group until all are ready. Although caregivers put shoes on a bit differently, the fluidity of the routine unfolds organically. Limits are tested, then reinforced. The children have free movement, are relaxed, and demonstrate cooperative gestures. At times the adult may need to break from the routine. Yet, she maintains a calm sense of order and control.

Do opportunities for improvement exist? Most certainly- to err is human. However, take a look a the intimacy in the relationship each child is able to enjoy nestled closely with his primary teacher who has been with him all of his infant life. Amazing to witness in center base care. Necessary for the toddler to cooperate without rewards or punishments on her compliance.

Given the time, commitment, and resources any early childhood center has the opportunity to cultivate toddler cooperations from the start- continuity being key.

What works- Small Group Size- children under two years of age should remain in group sizes no larger than eight. Even so, plan for times of the day where the child can break from the group individually and also in smaller groups of four or less.

What doesn’t work- Even an adult/child ratio relatively lower- for example 10 babies and 3 adults- can be less beneficial than a group size with a 1:4 ratio as the larger group overstimulates the infant brain.

What works- Primary Caregiving- dedicate one adult to be the primary caregiver for each child. She should have no more than four children under her supervision. As an advocate and resource to the parent, the primary caregiver should remain consistent over long periods of time.

What doesn’t work- Staggering caregivers or combining groups for before/after care to accommodate extended service times.

What works- Continuity of Relationships- keep the Primary Group of Four together with their Primary Caregiver as they transition through environments while in center base care. This means when a child develops the environment changes to meet that development rather than the child changes environments to meet the development. When transitions from one room to the next become necessary, the child moves with his Primary Teacher AND group of three friends. The longer the infant is with his friends and provider, the more likely he is able to be understood to get his physical needs met, feel safe and secure in a trusting relationship to explore, and then- feel a sense of belonging facilitating his cooperation.

What doesn’t work- Moving children up to the next level when they are ready physically or cognitively without considering his social or emotional needs. Severed relationships over time may inhibit the child from coopering in groups later on.

What works- Support the Early Childcare Provider with the time, resources, and salary enabling her to invest in her profession and be fully present to care for the well-being of infants and toddlers. We recommend the RIE® Foundations course as the precursor for this development. For those working in centers and institutions, Pikler® offers several advance training opportunities in the US and abroad.

What doesn’t work- Low pay, long hours, without opportunity for advancement results in a higher degree of teacher turn over.

What works- Share your experiences with parents. We’ve found coming together at least every quarter instrumental in developing consistency between home and center. A half hour in the morning every three months or so when parent, teacher, and child in primary groups of four connect is all it takes to pull the whole thing together. When parents have a sense of belonging with their center community the feeling is translated and absorbed by their child.

Witnessing the young child in cooperation in center base care demonstrates that all components are in place for a happy, healthy and full early childhood experience.

How to Approach Your Child for Toilet Learning

Reprinted with permission from TOILET TRAINING, by Beverly Kovach, MN, c.1997.   Beverly has been working with and consulting in early  childhood centers for more than 30 years. She is a RIE Mentor Teacher and was a member of the Board of Directors from 2001 until 2008. Beverly is a Montessori teacher-trainer, consultant, and presenter at national and international conferences, and co-author of Being with BabiesShe founded Little Learners Lodge and Montessori of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina in 1977 and established Waverly Place (the first RIE Satellite Center in the USA) in 2003.  Ms. Kovach also serves as a Pikler Teacher Trainer, USA.  

How to Approach Your Child for Toilet Training


When you feel your child is ready and have noticed many of the signs, you can begin with toilet learning.

I feel your approach is important to the outcome of the toilet learning.  This is a natural process.  Toileting is something we do every day in our lives.  There is nothing to be ashamed of or inhibited about.  It is important to be relaxed and very positive.  Before this cild actually sits on the toilet, it is a good idea to begin to prepare the child or ease the child carefully into the idea of using the toilet.  For example, you might let him flush the toilet to see the water go down and and then watch as the bowl fills again.

I caution you not to force the child on the toilet.  Another way to prepare the child is to let the child put a little toilet paper in the toilet and then flush.  Allow the child to watch other children or other family members use the toilet.  He or she will get an accurate idea of what is expected that way.

It is helpful to read a book about using the toilet.  An exceptionally good one is Toilet Learning: The Picture Book Technique for Children and Parents, by Alison Mach (Little Brown and Company, 1978).

It is also a good idea to introduce pants with an elastic waistband.  Show the child how to pull them down and then how to pull the pants up.  I would also introduce underpants, not necessarily trying them on unless the child wants to.

Who is ready for toilet training?  Here are the signs to look for:

1. a morning dry diaper- nighttime bladder and bowel control

2. dry diaper during the daytime- it is obvious the child’s bladder control is to the point where he or she can retain urine for a period of time (about two hours).

3. bowel movements are somewhat regular in terms of the same time of day

4. bowel movements are formed and have a definite shape

5. the child may tell you, “I have to pee pee,” when, in fact, he or she has already urinated

6. the child may ask to use the toilet

7. the child may tell you he or she needs a diaper change

8. the child may anticipate urinating or defecating then go ahead and do it, showing genuine awareness

9. balance- is the child physically able to sit on the toilet;  can he or she get on the toilet independently of the adult

10. undressing- is the child capable of pulling down pants and pulling them back up again

The reality is that once a child decides to use the toilet, he knows how to do it.  It is unnecessary to teach, practice, exercise the little techniques.  Children do learn to dress and undress themselves if parents encourage cooperation every time they care for them.  If each diapering has been a pleasurable experience- a true dialogue between parent and chid- if the caregiver has given her full attention during all these times, there will be no need for the special circus perform and of “The Day” (Magda Gerber, 1979)

Together in the WHY

The wonderful world of WHY marks your child taking that last step out of infancy and entering more fully into the social and cultural framework of his community.

Parents have little time to mourn the loss of their baby as they engage in the new discoveries and interests of a child’s emerging mind.  The environment previously absorbed unconsciously awakens leaving her stopping at almost each sentence to ask that all consuming question


David Vigliotti
David Vigliotti

For the next few weeks… or months…. car rides, neighborhood walks, story time, rest routines, meals together- walking out the front door- will be fragmented by the question WHY as your child begins to consciously categorize, understand, and delve deeper into the most fascinating world of people, places and things surrounding him.

It can be a lot.

And it can be a lot of fun, too.  So much learning takes place when you are together with your child in the WHY.

Answer the why- tells her that you feel secure in your knowledge.   If she’s interested in knowing the world around her but unsure  herself, she can turn to you for a good answer.

Why do you think- let’s him know that you are interested in what he thinks and that you value his opinion even if it’s different from your own.

That’s a good question- The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.

I wonder where we can find that answer- If you don’t know the answer to a question, you don’t have to guess.  There are reliable sources you can refer to when you are seeking answers.


Toilet Learning

Photo: David Vigliotti
Photo: David Vigliotti

“Toilet training is a process that begins in the infant room by creating an atmosphere of peaceful quality time.  During the different stages of infancy through three years old, the child is encouraged to be a cooperative member of the diapering process.  The movement from the diaper changing table (a lift up) to a standing position in the bathroom usually takes place in the toddler stage.  The important thing around toiling is the calm and positive relationship between the adult and the child. ”  -Beverly Kovach

Photo: David Vigliotti
Photo: David Vigliotti