Tag Archives: mount pleasant

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

Living It – The Tipi


All across the United States children of all ages have begun a study of North America history and culture.  Heralded by Columbus Day and threading through until at least Thanksgiving Day, Americans delve into various interpretations on what transpired when one culture, the Europeans, collided with another, the Indigenous Peoples of North America.

At our current juncture in American history, it can be difficult to imagine life in the Americas only a few hundred years ago upon the meeting of the first Pilgrims and Indians.  However, every person residing in the United States be it Manhattan, the Badlands, San Francisco or right here in Charleston, South Carolina are within walking distance to historical sites where the two cultures met, exchanged ideas, collaborated, or came in conflict- its understanding essential in defining  modern interpretation of what it means to be American.

The primary years during which time a person is in her ABSORBENT PERIOD provides a unique opportunity to instill a concrete, sensorially rich memory upon which future history may unfold in the mind.  For this, we have found the TIPI to be essential.

This fall will mark our second year of living it with a life size replica of Sioux Tipi of the American Plains.  No dwelling in all the world stirs the imagination like the tipi of the Plains Indians.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



As we soak in the magnitude and beauty of our Tipi which now marks the entrance of our school garden, we  prepare our winter grounds.  As a place marked for silent reflection and meditation, the elders work quietly side-by-side preparing the environment to welcome the other members of our community in the coming months.  Our memories fill with what must have been similar practical and sensorial experiences of Indian children preparing their homes a few centuries ago.


the Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use, Reginald & Gladys Laubin

The Wisdom of the Native Americans, Compiled and Edited by Kent Nerburn

If You Lived with the Sioux Indians, Ann McGovern

Native Americans: Plains Indians, Mir Tamin Ansary

Sweating the Small Stuff – Things Heat Up in the Infant Room

It’s funny how The More Things Change – The More Things Stay the Same. Each Spring over the past 10+ years or so, we’ve come to anticipate the season bringing temperamental conditions in the form of runny noses, growth spurts, limit testing- even the weather may fluctuate from one extreme to the other.

If you’ve been around a few years, you learn to stay just slightly ahead of the tide. You’ll find our faculty meetings packed with reminders for health and sanitation best practices, if/when/how to apply bug spray or sunscreen, and curriculum enhancements to address growing needs. We’ve even come up with a plan on how to set the thermostat, when to open or close windows, and a communications protocol so that the entire school is able to respond to the center’s HVAC needs during days which begin in the upper 50s (10 C) and end in the mid 80s (27 C).

And each year we know where to go when making that call – the Infant Room.

While social cohesion, collaboration, self-regulation (a strong indicator for academic success) and free movement are integral components comprising our school value system- the child’s capability across the varying planes of development from infancy to Kindergarden age varies widely. Our obligation as a center lies in meeting these varying needs at the weakest- or rather- most fragile level providing the necessary infrastructure to allow the child to feel supported and competent as she works towards independence and mastery. In regards to being able to regulate body temperature- we look to our babies in determining if/when/how to close up the doors and set the thermostat.

You might think it strange that we spend so much time and energy contemplating turning on the AC – it would be much easier just to set the thermostat and move on.

While we recognize that being in the Deep South of the United States we will ultimately be relegated to the climate controlled indoors with internmittant access to the outside, we also recognize that once so, our children will break connections with each other, with their self motivation, and with nature. Once we plug into the AC the doors shut- children lose their ability to connect visually, verbally and physically with adjacent communities involving older friends and siblings. Prior to door closing movement and cognition intertwined- now free movement is more restricted usually resulting in the outdoors being a place for gross motor activity while the indoors one for controlled movements in sensitivity to the group. Reluctantly, a bird’s song, the smell of approaching rain, and soft Spring breeze is replaced with the hum of an air conditioner switching on and off.

This time of year- we’re sweating it as we balance the needs of our entire school community with that of our youngest members. When things heat up in the infant room, it’s no small matter. Overheating an infant may increase the risk for SIDS.

Revisiting our school procedures, I asked Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) Board President, Polly Elam for input. Ms. Elam has 35 years experience in the early childhood field as a ECE Center Director, Regional Program Administrator and a Community College Instructor. While State License agencies may have differing requirements regarding temperature (South Carolina lies somewhere between 68 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit) many stipulate the room temperature to be “as appropriate to the season” leaving a vague interpretation. Even parental guidance provided on the SIDS website is open to interpretation: “Do not over-clothe the infant while she sleeps. Just use enough clothes to keep the baby warm without having to use cover. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for you.”

Polly interjects-

“Keep a room at a temperature that is comfortable for you” can be debatable in a child care center where we all have varying opinions on what is comfortable. You would have to keep the temperature set at 80 for me and I would still need a sweatshirt because I am always cold. The various websites all give somewhat conflicting recommendations. It appears you are already doing what most recommend and as I recall from my visit, the children sleep with very light clothing.

Of course, it’s nice when your policies are within recommended guidelines- however, being with babies means that we have to surpass stated standards, constantly evaluating center practice and the well-bing of each child keeping in mind that an infant’s needs can often be quite different than the adult’s- even with something as basic and temperature control.  Anna Tardos, Director of the Pikler Institute (an orphanage in Budapest), reminds us that when you are assessing your practice- first and foremost- look at the child.
How IS the child.  
On that particular day, we were also taking a moment for photographic documentation- here is what we saw the children doing.  The thermostat hung between 78-80 while a breeze blew through the open solarium door.
Several times during my observation of the Infant Environment between 2:15pm-4:00pm that day I was able to reach out in gesture or smile- at times, I connected physically with the babies. What was I looking for? An infant’s skin should feel cool to the touch (not clammy), appear content and peaceful, and should be actively exploring the environment. Without looking at a control panel, I was able to assess if the temperature was comfortable and safe for the babies in our care.   Still, the relationship of a baby being overheated in question of an increase risk to SIDS lingered, so we dug a little deeper.
In regards to SIDS, fellow RIE Associate Lisa Sunburry of REGARDING BABY remarks, “…everything I’ve ever read about SIDS and room temperature seems the problems aren’t so much caused by the room temp., but by over -bundling of babies. ”  Lisa pointed us to: 
So what is our balance at Little Learners Lodge? Currently, we’re checking our thermostat for accuracy…. and in the meantime, it’s set to a cozy 78 Fahrenheit. Until the AC kicks on we’ll all enjoy our outdoor access the sights, sounds and smells of nature and our school community. We’ll remind ourselves to dress children for the weather – teachers, too- offering refreshing water breaks periodically. During sleep, we’ll keep our rest items minimal- a light blanket at most and make sure the fans are on to assist with air circulation.
We’re also on the hunt for vinyl strips (like they use in warehouses) for doorways in order that the children can pass through to the outdoors while keep the cool air in. Seen any?