Let the child be the scriptwriter, the director and the actor in his own play.
Magda Gerber was the founder of Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE), an approach to interacting with infants and toddlers focusing on empathy and respect. In this approach, the adult lets the baby’s intentions and responses inform adult, so that the infant is not overwhelmed by the adult’s needs. It requires the caregiver to dial back their own conditioned or instinctive responses and observe the child carefully.
As with all age groups, there are many approaches to creating learning experiences for infants and toddlers, though much less focus has been placed on curriculum for this age group. My belief, based on my years of experience with children and my time as a teacher of infants at UC Davis’ lab school, is that teaching infants and toddlers is no different than teaching preschoolers or (gasp!) college students. It begins with respecting the individual and allowing each individual, no matter his or her age, to use what skills s/he has available to chart his or her own path to understanding. That approach leaves the teacher in the role of facilitator. It can be as hard, or as easy, to do that with babies as it is with any other age learner.–Mary Ann
Watch the parent and child in the video below. His gentle, respectful interaction allows the child to recover from the hurtful experience without being overwhelmed by a parent’s anxious response. How is this different than more typical infant-caregiver interactions?