Tag Archives: little learners lodge


MMP – 2014 Graduate Movie Presentation from Sunhead Projects on Vimeo.

Childhood friendships endure a life time- especially when they are nurtured from the start. We celebrate our Kindergarten Graduating Class of 2014. And thank you for your many contributions to our center community.

What is PLAY?


Play is what the child does.

It is an important part of the development of learning.

Toddler Play

“Real” play is the process by which a child interacts in his or her environment in such a way that it is SPONTANEOUS and FREE.

Play is inner-directed and non-goal orientated.


Play should never be corrected.  It is a child’s choice that is respected and should not be interrupted without an apology.


Play provides a natural outlet for a child’s curiosity, anxiety, and social experiences.  Play services a need for a child’s mastery.  It is the opportunity by which a child works out his or her life’s “struggles” and learns how to fit into society.


In play, there is no contest.


No right or wrong.

No win or lose.

RIE BabyPlay exists for play’s sake.

Written by Beverly A. Kovach,MN


Sharing- the RIE way

Knowing if, when and how to intercede is the dance of the Educarer. Here, two Early Toddlers demonstrate that when it comes to conflict, an adult isn’t always needed for resolution.

“When we make a child share, it is not sharing. This is a difficult concept for most of us, and yet I have found that when I have given the children a choice to share or not to share , with no repercussions, their inner-directed responses tend to be far more generous and giving.”

-Magda Gerber, DEAR PARENT: Caring for Infants with Respect, p.131

Simple Infant Toys Make Things Happen

While our play objects for infants at first glance, seem quite simple- an astute observer soon discovers the magic and discovery passive toys make for active babies.

“Aren’t the babies bored?” one prospective parent innocently asked during an Open House.  Glancing at the Infant Solarium, I could see how RIE play objects might look inanimate when not in a child’s hands.  I assured him that when adults trust a child to be an initiator, explorer and constructor of her own knowledge- the baby is not bored.  A bored child, rather, has inadvertently become dependent on toys designed to entertain  or on adults to shake, rattle and roll for her.  Both can rob a child of her own discovery.

An active baby engaged in simple infant toys makes things happen.  The link below affords a few minute observation of a not yet mobile child at play with simple objects.

Non-Mobile Infant Simple Toys from MMP School on Vimeo.

How important is a child’s experimentation on these open-ended play objects?

A baby’s intimate understanding of simple toys and his continually developing ability to manipulate these objects in increasingly complex ways means, “…his actions look much less magical and are much more effective.  This allows (the child) to really plan and scheme and use physical objects as tools.  By the time babies are eighteen months old, they understand quite complicated things about how objects affect each other.”  (Gopnik, Meltzoff, Kuly; The Scientist in the Crib, p77).

School founder and author of Being with Babies, Beverly Kovach, concurs, “You may be wooed by marketing strategies to buy too many complex playthings for babies.  However, babies’ brains develop by relating to objects in ways that develop their interest, curiosity, problem-solving skills, and sensory experiences.” (p 31)

It appears that when it comes to infant toys and infant learning, the experts agree- Less is More.

Here are some ideas for simple, open-ended play objects which are also highly affordable yet rich in opportunities for infants to explore, experiment and discover their unique characteristics:

Beginning objects

An increase in quantity keeps things interesting

“The toy in the child’s hand is alive.” -Magda Gerber

RIEatized- definition of RIEatized free online…

Adj. 1. RIEalized – restored to new life, vigor and understanding of Magda Gerber’s RIE Approach;

I first heard the term “RIEatized” from an infant specialist at Little Learners Lodge.  Already a very competent and experienced infant caregiver self-educated in the RIE Approach, we sponsored her RIE training in Theory and Observation more as a formality.  Yet when she returned from the training experience, she radiated with enthusiasm voicing a deeper understanding and appreciation of Magda Gerber’s work- “I’ve been RIEatized!”  she exclaimed happily.
After attending the 23rd Annual RIE Infant/Toddler Conference for Parents and Professionals last weekend, I have a better understanding of what she means.
The presenters at each break-out session I attended conveyed a deep regard of Magda Gerber’s contributions to our understanding of infants as well as the inclusiveness of the RIE Approach.  Parents, psychologists, early childhood practitioners from across the nation and overseas- be it traditional, Montessori or progressive- were connected by our appreciation of infants and toddlers. With almost 400 in attendance, I lit up with the feeling of belonging and understanding while surrounded by likeminded individuals.  It was nice to be in a place where we could freely discuss the intricacies of supporting healthy human development from a societal framework.
Keynote speaker and renowned researcher, Allison Gopnik, PhD, author of The Scientist in the Crib and The Philosophical Baby and Magda’s son, Bence Gerber lent further fuel to the excitement.
Dr. Gopnik’s research recognizes, “Baby’s are a separate developmental stage in human development- as evidence by their brains…. a baby’s brain is better than an adult’s in its design to learn.”   Yet this capacity, Gopnik further explained, comes at a high price.  A baby requires the care of an adult- actually a TEAM of adults working cooperatively- for his survival.  How the team cares for that child especially over the course of her first five or six years, will greatly influence the child’s ability to contribute to our social fabric when she reaches adulthood.  Our brains are physically wired to assist us in our roles as we reach them- first as an infant and eventually as an elder.
We are best able to assume our adapting roles if we are adequately supported at infancy.
During her time with us, Dr. Gopnik focused her discussion on two crucial areas to assist the child the first six years of life- attachment and play.  As a RIE Certified Center, we can attest to the particular attention the approach gives to both fostering secure attachment and to respecting the value of a child’s self-initiated and uninterrupted play.  If you have a few moments, you’ll find components of Gopnik’s keynote via TED:
As important as it is in “getting it right” with infants, the infrastructure we currently have in place in providing parents and early childhood professionals with the resources they may need to care for babies seems lacking- adversely affecting our security early on.  For example, infant  teachers remain under-valued as a profession with a high degree of burn-out and turnover.  And many policy makers lack the experience of being childcare providers- while they value the importance of infant care, really don’t know how to give it.
As a result, early childhood professionals- (don’t forget unlike many elementary teachers, these guys are working year ’round)- lack the time, energy and resources to advocate on a political platform that which we know to be best practices in implementation.  In addition, those not in the field are becoming more exposed to research validating our work and- with the best of intentions- feel driven to institute practices to “teach” the child, negatively impacting his innate drive to learn.
I felt the need for a little re-RIEatization.  Thanks to all the RIE (volunteer) Board members and Dr. Allison Gopnik.  Let’s get this party started:  Advocating for the Importance of PLAY