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
A video demonstration with the Primary Caregiver transitioning her infant from sleep to being on his own. Note the pace of the transition, how the baby’s spine is supported, and how she gently lays him on his back releasing his head last. All along, the infant is connected, supported, present and included in the process as he moves from one activity to the next.
“Physical Security Equates to Emotional Security.” -Anna Tardos
Admittedly, I was surprised to find myself sitting with a good-size group of interested and engaged parents last week for our adult educational offering geared towards developing an appreciation for healthy eating habits. I’m not sure why… for generations food has connected communities. Eating right supports not only our health physically and cognitively, but also engages us cognitively, socially and emotionally.
Think back to the time when you were young. Can you recall a favorite meal or dinner shared with family or friends?
Take a moment to recall the details of that time. Can you remember who was there? What they were wearing? Sounds? Smells? and, of course, tastes?
Mine was in the kitchen of South Carolinian home with my grandparents who often wintered with us. I recall my grandmother standing near the stove- my grandfather at the counter behind her. “Stir the dough 200 times,” she would say. He would count them off in Hungarian. Just home from school, I sat at the kitchen table watching as she prepared my father’s favorite cookies- peanut butter. As the end of the day approached, the kitchen filled with the smell of fresh baked cookies. I can still see in my mind’s eye how my dad’s face lit up as a child’s when he caught the scent upon walking up the drive.
Few memories imprint on our memory more deeply than those experienced in early childhood. Fewer, still, have more meaning that those surrounded by food.
Consider the first born baby arriving completely dependent on others for survival. Almost helpless in every other way, the infant breast walks to her mother’s nipple, latching on. Even her eyesight is limited- a newborn is only able to see from her mother’s bosom to her face facilitating attachment. One might argue even that the attachment and bonding connection equal in importance to food, water, and shelter in one’s hierarchy of needs.
Maybe that was why the evening’s adult education class was so well received.
As we sipped on our wine and snacked on the offering of fruit and cheese, we shared some of our wishes for mealtimes together. We shared a concern of the growing pressures facing parenting in the Information Age. We questioned our ability to balance our child’s need for independence and our need to get the job done. We wondered what to do when our child refuses to sit during meals.
And then we talked about all the wonderful things that transpire when we do all come together as a family to leisurely share our dinner, our day, our ideals.
At the center, we share the same value of a shared community meal. Inspired by Slow Food, teacher and child come together daily to prepare and partake of an organic, minimally processed lunch. As children learn to sit up on their own, grasp a spoon, or set a table, their involvement with the mid-day meal deepens, expectations adjust, and the environment changes in support of their growth and development. From infancy through Kindergarten, we take the moments we nourish our bodies as an opportunity to refuel our relationships. But it’s not always easy.
At school or at home, getting a child to come to the table and actively participate involves:
1. having the adults involved with mealtimes to come together first in defining their goals and expectations, remembering to revisit these ideas every so often as your child grows and develops,
2. defining the eating area- at every age, especially infants- and preparing the environment in a way that is comfortable and free from distractions for each of the members who will be sharing the experience together,
3. including the child in the preparation and transition of coming together at their developmental readiness, and most importantly by
4. cultivating within yourself a love and appreciation for the many ways food nourishes our body, minds and souls.
Just watch as these very young toddlers share a meal together with their primary Educarer.
When cultivated early, an appreciation of feeding our minds and souls while we nourish our bodies will serve as the foundation for your child’s future relationships with her body and with others. These moments remain with us throughout our lives.
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.