Posted by: Roseann Murphy | June 4, 2012

Early Introduction to Technology – Too Much Too Soon?

 I came across a number of important articles that speak to many of the concerns I have regarding the march to integrate technology into ECE curriculum.  Lisa Sunbury of Regarding Baby posted an interesting article asing  the question, print book or digital books for early readers. (http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/05/for-young-readers-print-or-digital-books/)  Comments and responses to Lisa’s FB page indicated that parents/educators are still leaning toward print book.  I was grateful to see the thoughtful responses.

A few hours later, while rereading segments  from Dr. Jane Healy’s”Endangered Minds” I came across one of her timeless passages.  This passage applies to children in the 90’s, today and in the future:   “Nevertheless, since these electronic developers are lining up to stake out a claim in the brains of today’s children, I believe we should try to figure out a few more questions to ask before we sign the contract.  We have already witnessed clear changes in children’s habits of mind:  declining verbal skills, changing patterns of attention, a less reflective approach to problem solving.  How might they fit with our conjectures about the future?  Are human brains about to get caught in the experiential fragmentation of machine technology, or will they gain broader abilities to stand back and understand what is happening?” (Chapter 15. page 332).
After reading her work I decided to continue to search the web to find additional responses to the recent movement to integrate technology into the early early childhood curriculum.

It was my good fortune to come across Lisa Murphy’s draft/letter (http://msooey.tumblr.com/post/24176924383/my-response-to-the-draft-naeyc-technology-use-in-ece) to the NAEYC’s recent statement advocating a movement  to integrating more technology into our young student’s lives.

I felt invigorated and wanted to share the letter with our readers in case you haven’t had an opportunity to find it amongst the wealth of information on the Internet.

June 1, 2012
My Response to the (draft) NAEYC Technology Use in ECE Position Statement

Sent electronically as a PDF to TechandYC@naeyc.org on Thursday May 26, 2011

OF IMPORTANT NOTE: I am posting this here on tumblr for archive purposes.  Since I wrote it, NAEYC has adopted a final position which was adopted in January 2012.  Point being, I don’t have a link to the actual verbiage that this was written in response to.  If someone still knows of one, please send it along!  (I searched before posting this here on the tumblr to see if I could find a link to the draft, but to no avail)

To whom it may concern:

Discussions around the topic of technology use with children often turn into debates between the camps of “pro” and “con.”   I recently wrote an article that offered a modified definition of technology that stretched beyond consumer based electronics (TVs, computers, iPhones, etc.) attempting to show educators and parents that technology is not limited to things that get plugged in or need to be charged up.  The new NAEYC position statement, however, is not so broad.  By limiting the definition of technology to electronic and screen-based tools the divide between the camps of pro and con will continue to grow.  It has also encouraged many of us in the con camp to find our collective voice.

This being said, I am thankful for the opportunity to provide feedback on the (draft) position statement regarding technology use in early childhood programs:

I appreciate that in the new position statement NAEYC calls on teachers to have a solid understanding of child development and DAP which would allow them to “make good choices” when it comes to technology use, but the reality is that too many states allow 18 year olds with only a high school diploma to be responsible for the daily care and development of our children; as sad as it is to admit, NAEYC cannot assume that all early childhood educators ARE grounded in solid theories of child development or DAP.

This position statement relies heavily on the importance of the role of the teacher in choosing DAP tech materials when the reality is that many materials are purchased by someone else and teachers are simply told to use them.  We cannot assume that ece teachers will “know better” because the embarrassing reality is that due to inconsistent (often substandard) initial employment qualifications and (lack of) ongoing training requirements, in many instances, they unfortunately don’t.

This position statement appears disconnected from the reality of how technology IS being used in many ece environments.  It often IS being used in such a way that decreases the prevalence of real, hands-on experiences.   Touch screens DO replace crayons and markers; in some places because they are “cleaner” and not as messy.

More of a question than a comment, I would like to ask what prompted the decision for a revision to the original position statement?  I remain curious as to the potential influence of the “Rationale Statement” authored by Donohue and Schomberg, which was included in the references.

Additionally, when a “Center for Children’s Media” is co-authoring a position statement on technology use it can be perceived as being a bit biased.  I was left wondering as to the nature of the relationship between NAEYC, the Fred Rogers Center and the various authors of the document (who all appear to be affiliated with tech-based institutions).

It is rather unsettling that the appropriate age for  “technology use” has been expanded to include infants and toddlers; flying smack in the face of the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The position statement indicates that children without early exposure to tech will be at a disadvantage and their ability to compete in a 21st century workplace will be impeded.  This argument is completely asinine.  The tech tools currently being used by three year olds will be obsolete by the time they are old enough to be hunting for a job and “competing in the workforce.”  Additionally, the jobs they will be hunting for have not even been invented yet.  The “at a disadvantage myth” preys on consumer guilt, is not grounded in any research and does nothing but increase sales of tech driven products.

This position statement grants permission to tech manufacturers and sales staff to ramp up their already relentless and aggressive marketing techniques.  The vendor halls at most conferences already border on inappropriate, it is only going to get worse with the ability to now pitch products as being, “In line with NAEYC’s position statement.”

In true developmentally appropriate early childhood programs you will witness children busy creating, moving their bodies, running, climbing, singing, problem solving, discussing, using their hands, observing, reading and playing; and quite frankly, we don’t have the time, desire or need for flat, solitary, sterile, passive, tech-based media experiences that keep children sitting still and getting fat.

I will remind all who are involved with the creation of this document that no screen can replace the feel of water dripping down your arm as you pour it and measure it in the sensory table, no program or app can capture the tickle of a caterpillar crawling across your hand, no software can transmit the coldness of the ice and snow as you work with peers to make a winter shelter and nothing you plug in can replicate the experience of molding and squeezing clay with your fingers.

“If you want it in their head, it must first be in their hands.”  Why we would ever take a position that states otherwise, thus appearing to undermine the importance of children touching and manipulating real objects in the crucial years of early childhood, is beyond me.

Respectfully,

Lisa Murphy

B.S., CEO, Founder

Ooey Gooey, Inc.

http://www.ooeygooey.com

Author, lecturer, and current NAEYC, New York AEYC and Rochester (NY) AEYC member, former student member of Chicago Metro (student) AEYC, and former member of both California and San Diego AEYC

Filed under naeyc technology position statement response draft”

As a parent, child advocate, early childhood educator and clear thinking individual, I believe we must think long and hard before we make the decision to use even more technology in early childhood centers.   Theodore White eloquently said:  “To go against the dominant  thinking of most of the people you are in contact with everyday  is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform.”  In the case of early introduction to technology I think we need a bit of heroism when it come to saving our youth from too much too soon.

Post by Roseann Murphy

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Posted by: Roseann Murphy | May 1, 2012

Mister Rogers Says…

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you many never even dream of.  there is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person” 

From The World According to Mister Rogers



As teachers of very young children it is easy to dismiss  the impact we have on the parents and children we come in contact with.  When working with young children the relationship can end very abruptly, jobs change, situations change and there may be little chance to say goodbye.  If you  that is the case, a note or a photo sent directly to the child might be a lovely way to say farewell…
Post by: Roseann Murphy
Posted by: Roseann Murphy | April 27, 2012

Magda Gerber 1979 International Infant Conference

 Today, November 1st is Magda Gerber’s Birthday.  Magda’s impact on the child care community continues today and  will  continue long past my lifetime.  Thirty-seven years ago I was fortunate to participate in the child caring panel at the conference.   My dear friend and colleague, Norma Friend was also a member of the panel representing family child care.  We had the opportunity to share with the conference goers the significance of  Magda Gerber’s teachings  on  children and parents in our programs.  After all these years, I think of Magda daily.  There are many of us who experienced the passion of her work first-hand. I particularly love Rhonda Garcia’s insight into Magda’s presentation at the conference…she sums up Magda and her work……”Magda left us with the feeling that she understood our dilemmas,”  ….breast-feed, bottle-feed; wean abruptly, wean gradually; start solids at birth, breast feed for years; feed according to the clock, feed according to demand; give the pacifier, pull out the thumb; don’t give the pacifier, allow the thumb; both…neither…..” As a way of understanding these contradictions, she encouraged us to critically examine current child-rearing practices in light of those which encourage our own goals and ideals for children.”   I am so proud to have known you, Magda Gerber.  Happy Birthday.  Thank you for your work.         (The following article  was originally published in the  Educaring  Resources for Infant Educarers.   Volume I Number I Winter 1979   by Rhonda Garcia)

The International Infant.  The first Resources for Infant Educarers Conference, held in June 1979, presented a unique opportunity, for those 500 participants who attended, to hear Dr. Emmi Pikler.  The conference which was held in both Los Angeles and Belmont, California on back-to-back weekends, served to introduce infant educarers to the R.I.E. philosophy of infant growth and development.

The International Infant Conference was the (as yet) largest undertaking by R.I.E. and it seemed appropriate that Dr.Pikler should be the featured speaker.  The philosophical roots of R.I.E.extend from the founder and director Magda Gerber, to the National Methodological Institute for Residential Nurseries (Loczy) in Budapest, Hungary and Loczy’s founder, Dr. Emmi Pikler.  In a collaboration which extends beyond the Institute’s founding in 1946, Magda Gerber and Emmi Pikler have consistently worked to improve infant caregiving practices.  Dr. Pikler has been nominated for the Hungarian National Academy of Sciences for her pioneering work on the learning of motor skills on the basis  of self-induced movements.

Dr. Pikler’s lecture on the “competent infant” seemed to spark within us a renewed sense of respect and appreciation for the young children in our care.  She reminded us that the need for competency is basic to human development, and one which effects later personality development.  It is exactly the day-to-day experiences which most influence the child’s  feeling of self-esteem and autonomy.  Dr. Pikler presented competence as the result of an infant allowed to interact and adapt effectively within an environment.  The infant needs to be able to (1) select from the environment and form a schema and plan, then (2) be allowed to initiate a sequence to achieve objectives, and , (3) be able to learn from the experience and formulate new behaviors.  Thus, on a practical level, as we re-assess our own infant environments, we need to examine whether our worlds are safe enough to foster and encourage competence.

Magda Gerber’s charismatic presentation of the applicability of the R.I.E. philosophy was welcome reassurance that through respect as a basic guideline, it is possible to watch the competent infant unfold into an authentic adult.  She defined the role of the educarer as one who “facilitates the development of an active child who is challenged by problems, enjoys his autonomy,and trusts adults.”  Magda left us with the feeling that she understood our dilemmas,”…breast-feed,bottle-feed;wean abruptly, wean gradually, start solids at birth, breast-feed for years;feed according to the clock, feed according to demand; give the pacifier, pull out the thumb;don’t give the pacifier, allow the thumb, both….neither…”  As a way of understanding these contradictions, she encouraged us to critically examine current hild-rearing practices in light of those which encourage our own goals and ideals for children.

Ast the conference came to an end, many of us were left with unanswered questions, and the feeling that we wanted still more information.  The conference served to provoke challenging and thoughtful discussion among us, and many will return to work with new insights to their day-to-day problems.  Yet for some participants, the weekend was only the beginning.  The conference proved to be a valued introduction of the R.I.E. philosophy to the infant carer who attended.  It was only an introduction, we hope to share much more in the months and years ahead.

(This article was originally published in the Educaring Resources for Infant Educarers.   Volume I Number I Winter 1979   by Rhonda Garcia

More than thirty-seven years later  R.I.E. continues to share the teachings of Magda Gerber and Dr. Emmi Pikler.  For those of us who participated and attended this marvelous conference..The memories are very vivid.  Although Magda and Dr. Pikler are no longer with us…their  teachings continue to impact the lives of educators, parents and children.

Post by Roseann Murphy

Posted by: Roseann Murphy | April 27, 2012

Celebrating Magda Gerber’s RIE

In celebration of the upcoming  2012 Resources for Infant Educarer Conference, an article celebrating Magda Gerber and the RIE philosophy.
This beautiful article further explaining the Magda Gerber RIE philosophy was written in 1982 and published in The New Age Source.  The flattering title reads:
Educarer, Magda Gerber   Her Babies Teach Parents and Teachers

Until recently the care of infants in this country has largely been the concern of the family and family physician.  Only in the last two decades has the need for alternative care become increasingly apparent.  Magda Gerber has been a pioneer in this field and through the years of study and work with young children she has developed a program entitled RESOURCES FOR INFANT EDUCARERS.  Much of her philosophy was nurtured along by the eminent Hungarian Pediatrician, Dr. Emmi Pikler.   Dr. Pikler was her family pediatrician.  So profound was Dr. Pikler’s influence that Magda decided to study and specialize in the care of young children as her own life’s work.

    At the National Methodological Institute for Infant Care and Education there were guidelines Magda absorbed and have guided her work throughout the years.
One is that children are not artificially stimulated.  That is “the infant is never put in more advanced position, in order to promote gross motor development, than he is able to attain by himself from a supine position (Pikler).”  He is never put in a bouncer, or his attention drawn to a toy by placing it in his hand or dangling it over his head.

MAGDA: “This new scientific knowledge that infants are more competent than we thought they were created a revolution…which has meant, let’s make them more competent, they are capable of perceiving-let’s teach them.
  We follow this thinking and what parents end up doing is programming their children.  But the programs are not appropriate; they don’t make sense with the child.  Learning is taking in and organizing.  Today the child is being programmed with unrelated tidbits, fragmented knowledge, which is crazy in our time because when we have computers we should free our heads of these bits of knowledge because we can ask the computer.”
It is a matter of principles in the R.I.E. model that educators and parents refrain from teaching skills and activities which under suitable conditions will evolve through the child’s own initiative and independent activity.
This leads us to wonder what sort of environment is suitable for growth and the acquisition of knowledge.

MAGDA:  “We should learn from what is.  If we could accept that our path is to provide safe and large enough environment and put in a few simple objects; the child will learn the basics; what is hard , what is big, what is heavy, all these things.  
    A child raised in this manner is always an initiator, always finds from the available things what they are.  This child will allow himself/herself to be sleep, to be alert, to pay attention or not pay attention. These are all the ways we learn to be authentic, how to listen to our inner needs and how to respond to outside stimulation.  
There is one thing, I believe, that all of us want, no matter whatever differences are between us, the one thing we cherish from another human being is attention.

I am very much for creating one place, one room (and yes everyone will be horrified), and put a gate in front of that room because the whole place cannot be safe.  Allow the child to freely move around without restricting, without teaching, without stimulating, within one room.

It has been hypothesized in child development theories – that infants do not readily distinguish themselves from their surrounding, including the people within their environment.  If this is true, it may explain the importance placed upon maintaining a familiar and predictable environment.  We tend to take for granted that children need a relationship with their parents, but in this day of divorce and parents without custodial care the nature of the parent/child relationship can become foggy.  What is helpful to the child?  What is it that enhances a child’s positive sense of themselves?  Pikler found that it was important for young children to interact consistently with one or two stable adults regardless of whether or not they were the parent.  Bathing, dressing, and being attentive for at least some period of time each day was found significant.

MAGDA:  “There is one thing, I believe, that all of us want, no matter how old we are, no matter whatever differences are between us, the one thing we cherish from another human being is attention. Love…is not certain.  Some people will love us, and some people will not.  But the one thing that anyone can give to any other person is simple attention.  It is not as involved as in love.  This attention may last 20 minutes or many hours.  If you live with somebody it is repeated.   ‘You are worthy of my attention that, I think, is the greatest gift we can give each other”
For the working parent it may seem overwhelming to juggle the home hours and tasks and to make room for quality time.

MAGDA:  “If the parents have to work and the child is still very important, then they must find time for that special quality time—to be attentive.  They must ask themselves what sort of solution to their life style would be satisfying to both them and to the child.  I believe that if you want something strongly enough you will find it.  I would like to see those parents who can’t be with their children find one adult, who they feel confident, feel warmly towards and pay them to take care of the child.  This person would feel they are a professional, and would take great interest in the job since it would be doing the most important profession that exists.”
“The R.I.E. program is geared primarily toward the education and nurturing of the infant, and yet there is within each of us an infant, one that has been vulnerable and so to understand the infant is potential to understand an aspect of the adult.”

MAGDA:  “I teach at many different places and lecture at others; and I had one wonderful student, a psychologist, who had pre-teen children.  I asked him why he was taking a class on infancy.  He said, “I believe that if I take the class, I will understand myself better.”  It is very difficult for many adults to be around infants.  Infantile amnesia made us want to forge that time.  Often I have seen it bring up emotions you would never think, when you start watching the infants, that that could be the reason some don’t like to be around them, they would rather get busy with them.
    Teen-agers go through a rep-birthing of the infant, but in big bodies.  It is easier for infants because they can be picked up.
    Abraham Maslow wrote about it so beautifully, about the security vs. adventure.  Adventure is going out, leaving the secure base, leaving the parent.  Then the world is tough and you go back to the parent.  Then the world is tough and you go back to the parent.  It is a lifetime process begun in infancy.
The key word in Magda Gerber’s philosophy is respect…respect for the child as a unique personality and respect for each adult as a provider, an “educarer.”  The approach involves constant attention to the subtleties of inter-personal contacts and attention to the opportunities inherent within the environment.
End of actual interview with Magda…

But the journalist went on to say what Magda was doing at the time of the interview so I added the past tense:
“While Magda was alive she shared her insight and time with professional care providers, with expectant parents and parents of young children.  She taught at Pacific Oaks College, through the R.I.E. program; sponsors film series at Children’s Hospital and a program to educate and certify professionals. She has published a resource book using the same name as the program, Resources for Infant Educarers

Post by Roseann Murphy

Posted by: Roseann Murphy | April 26, 2012

Toilet Training by Magda Gerber

  Magda’s article   is lengthy and involved and worth the read….it is filled with clear and concise information allowing us to make an informed, intelligent decision when it comes to toilet issues.

Magda begins the article:

“I feel strongly ambivalent about calling attention to a book that I consider harmful.  In our society, a negative response attracts more attention and, therefore, may sell a product better than a positive one.  Yet, since several mothers have asked for my opinion on a book with the catchy title “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day” (Simon Schuster, 1974, N.Y.) I will share my concerns with you.

On the back book cover a photograph shows the smiling authors, Nathan H. Arrin and Richard M. Fox, squatting, with a child and a musical potty chair between them.  The front cover of the book says, “The breakthrough book that describes a professional-tested new method of successful toilet training in one pleasant and exciting learning period.”  How can even a sensitive, knowledgeable mother resist all that?

The book certainly lays the ground work for credibility.  After describing their previous research work with profoundly delayed persons who, with their method could be trained in three days, the authors, both with PhD’s, devised their method for “normal” children.  ‘Within three or four hours,’ they write, ‘the young child has learned to toilet train himself…’ (page 10 of book).  In case you are not desperate enough about toilet training, here are some of the titles of 23 mother’s letters:  Help – 36 months,”  “At our wits’ end – 47 months,” “He positively will not – 32 months, “Tried everything – 42 months, “I am desperate – 24 months and 36 months.” (pgs.13, 14, 18).

The authors of the book then proceed to tell how expensive diapers are, about $200 a year for disposable and diaper service (much more in 2012), or how much time and energy it costs to do the laundry yourself.  But this is minor compared to what you go through with each diapering, which takes “about nine hours per week.” *(pg.21).

“In criticizing the “old method”, Magda goes on to say, the authors further elaborate on how much of the mother’s time that training requires.  ‘She must dress and undress the child, sit him on the chair, remain with him for an extended period, dress him again and empty the potty in which he urinated.’ (pg.24).  It sounds like the authors have difficulties believing that mothers may enjoy being with their children, or lo and behold, even enjoy caring for them.

     Obviously one advantage of the “new training method” is speed.  Another one, “the pleasantness of the …experience (pg 31) is more questionable.  I will sketch some aspects of the procedure so each of you can decide how pleasant or unpleasant the experience sounds to you for your baby and yourself.  Throughout the procedure “your intent is to give your child undivided attention and you should not allow any even to interrupt the interaction.”  (pg.47)   (No phones, TV, radio, guests or even family members).

Place: in the Kitchen.  Aids and Supplies:  A potty chair, a doll (which can drink and urinate) for demonstration, many snack items for reward, a variety of drinks for reward, and to fill the child’s bladder.  “If you child is reluctant to drink…stimulating his thirst by giving salty items… by placing the cup against his lips and lifting it…” (pg 62).  When the child does what the mother wants, rewards him with praise, snacks, drinks, hugging, kissing, clapping, “be enthusiastic, exuberant, excited, and expressive and let this delight be very visible. (pg.70). In addition you can call on a “supportive crowd of enthusiasts, such as aunt, uncle, and friend, Captain Kangaroo or Grandma.  Grandma will be so happy.”

But what if the child has wet pants?…  The Book continues, “Reprimand him immediately by loudly saying, “No!”  “Wetting is bad.”  “Mommy does not like wet pants.” (pg 84)… and then make him practice.  “Practice going to the potty chair, practice quickly.  Practice pulling your pants down.  Practice quickly.  Practice getting up quickly, you wet your pants.  Practice pulling your pants up, practice quickly.” (pg. 85).

Magda says, “I cannot help having a frantic nightmare at this point.  I see miniature Charlie Chaplin moving quickly to the potty chair, urinating (potty chair signals), eating salted crackers, drinking more fluid, standing up, pulling pants up, down quickly, quickly faster, faster, stop.  It seems like the caricature of a future shock world for children.”

The reality is that once a child decides to use the toilet, he knows how to do it.  It is unnecessary to teach, practice, and 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 child, if the mother has given her full attention during all these times, she will not need the special circus performance of “The Day” (of training).

But suggestions to parents to do something unnecessary would not drive me to call a book harmful.  In order to convey my concerns I will try to describe how much more is involved in toilet training than just getting urine and feces in the toilet.

Toilet training happens as a result of a healthy, normal child, living in an average accepting, caring family.  As a part of his natural development the child wants to b e like, and act like, his parents.  The child has to be ready physically (capacity of the bladder to hold more fluid, better muscle control), cognitively (be fully aware of what he is expected to do), and emotionally (be ready and willing to give up a comfortable situation, such as just letting urine and feces out whenever it does so naturally).  For the child it means that he has  to delay and control a natural urge, to give away something that he may believe is still part of his body, and therefore valuable, and to conform to an adult-designed and time routine.  It is an area and time of inner conflict.

Endless volumes have been written on the consequences of how a child achieves this important milestone on his way to autonomy.  In Erick Erikson’s famous epigenetic chart*, the first three critical steps, conflicts or crises a young child must go through are:  trust vs. mistrust during infancy, autonomy vs. shame and doubt and around toddlerhood and initiative vs. guilt during the preschool years.

Let us now come back to the book we started with.  On page ten the authors state:   “No single theoretical orientation is followed exclusively.  The procedure borrows heavily from the many different approaches to children.  We have utilized the psychoanalytic emphasis on the possible effect harsh toilet training on later personality by making the experience a pleasant one.”  This latter statement shows that the authors have a full misconception of what the psychoanalytic theory is all about.  There are few concepts as thoroughly described in psychoanalytic literature as toilet training, the vicissitudes involved, the characteristics of the anal personality, etc.  To go into more detail on this huge subject is beyond the scope of this writing.  I will mention some of the struggles of early childhood which have an effect throughout our whole life:

Dependence and independence or autonomy

Holding on and letting go

Taking and giving

Progression (wanting to grow up) and regression (wanting to stay a baby)

Though these are lifelong struggles, they seem to be crucial during the anal stage of development.  Erikson writes, “this (anal) stage, therefore, becomes decisive for the ration of love and hate, cooperation and willfulness, freedom of self-expression and it suppression.  From a sense of self-control without loss of self-esteem comes a lasting sense of good will and pride; from a sense of loss of self-control and of foreign over-control comes a lasting propensity for doubt and shame. (pg 254).

Magda  goes on to say, “I feel sorry for the parent who tricks and treats his child rather than trusts him.  I feel sorry for the child is manipulated and deprived of making this important step towards autonomy by his own volition.

I believe the “gentle” operant conditioning the book advocates is as harmful and psychologically harsh as any old punitive, bribing, coercing method ever used.  It shows no respect or love for the child, but a phony, exuberant and manipulative joy for his performance.  This book is the product of our impatient society looking for instant results, forgetting the importance of every experience in the long process of learning.” *Erik H. Erikson, Childhood and Society, W. W. Norton, NY. 1950

Magda Gerber and Emmi Pikler spent years researching and observing children.  Their results and findings are invaluable.  The book Magda is describing was written in 1974.   Her observations can be used for any of the numerous article and books on the market today.  We do unspeakable  things to our children.  Potty training before a child is ready is one of them.    Thank you to Magda Gerber for her reliable, dignified, respectful and thoughtful  methodology.  Article taken from “A Manual for Parents and Professionals” Published by Resources for Infant Educarers, Copyright, 1979.  (Pages 40-42)

Post by Roseann Murphy

Posted by: Roseann Murphy | March 20, 2012

Memories of Magda pt.2

Memories of Magda pt.2

by Magdalena S. Palencia

In the late 60’s in Argentina, during a conversation with my cousin about  her studies in education, she asked me if I heard of an Orphanage in Europe. She mentioned just by chance that Dr. Emmi Pikler was making breakthroughs in developmental education that challenged traditional parenting. I remeber being very intrigued.
At the time I was not aware  of Magda Gerber, but clearly the work that she had been doing, including brining this new kind of thinking to the United States, was leaving a lasting impression. It was not until many years later, in 1989 that Roseann Murphy would afford me the pleasure of introducing me to child specialist Magda Gerber at a conference.I left the conference with a lovely impression of Magda Gerber, who even with a demanding schedule and no clear idea of who I was, had the grace and patience to talk to me during a break.Even while people were lined up behind us, I fondly remember her taking the time to speak to us. In her special way, she looked at my name tag and said  “Oh look, we both have the same name” recognizing that we had the same name on our name-tags despite being from very different parts of the world.

When I see first hand the benefits that Magda Gerber’s teachings have in the lives of children, I am reminded of the lovely impression she left with me. I always have admired how far ahead of the times she was. Many of the observations that Magda Gerber made about childhood development many years ago are still being confirmed and reconfirmed through scientific studies today. It was a real special honor to have met such an incredible person.

Post by Magdalena S. Palencia
Posted by: Roseann Murphy | March 15, 2012

Memories of Magda

Memories of Magda

By Roseann Murphy

Wonderful news.  Recently Magdalena Palencia and I were invited to share  thoughts and memories regarding famed infant specialist, Magda Gerber and her organization Resources for Infant Educarers. http://www.magdagerber.org/

Lisa Sunbury of Regarding Baby, Bence Gerber, (Magda Gerber’s son and if I am reading it correctly, Lisa Sunbury’s fiance) and Janet Lansbury of Elevating Childcare are hosting the site.
Magdalena and I  speak of  Magda Gerber often..  I have always thought Magda Gerber’s RIE methods and ideas were not meant  exclusively for very young children but for  people of all ages.  Based on Magda’s teachings,  everyone on earth wishes for dignity and respect in  everyday life.  We all thrive on the three basic tenets of Magda Gerber’s RIE – consistency, continuity and respect.
We noticed on the new site  someone mentioned that “back in the day” students and colleagues called Magda Gerber by the name Madge.  Reading that brought back many memories.
Can you imagine a world without Magda Gerber and her teachings?  That could have easily happened if educators  chose to dismiss this extraordinary woman due to  her accent or from where she came. Luckily, Magda was embraced  for the message she brought to the children or the United States.
I met Magda in 1978 while a student at Pacific Oaks and  employee UCLA Child Care Service.  My job included working in a program developed specifically to raise awareness of the importance of the child care worker. I was privileged to work with many hard working professional child care providers, many who worked 60 hour per  week while earning $35 per child!
The Director of UCLA Child Care Services at that times was the well-known child care advocate    She has written many books and is very well known in the field. Upon meeting Magda, at UCLA or Pacific Oaks,I recall Magda mentioning  the director suggested she change her name to “Madge”.  The director thought people might not understand a name like Magda. Because of this suggestion some fellow educators actually though Magda’s name was “Madge”!.  The name “Madge” just did not fit the elegant educator, Magda Gerber. Thinking back on it now..the suggestion sounds preposterous.
As you can imagine,  Magda Gerber did not let anyone influence her for very long.
In June, 1979 RIE presented the International Infant Conference.  Back-to-Back presentations introduced the  Pikler and RIE methods to the infant community in Los Angeles and Belmont, California.  The excitement was unforgettable.  I was asked to sit on a panel with esteemed colleagues who had first-hand experience with the Pikler/Gerber methods.  I spoke of my experiences with a child who suffered from severe separation anxiety.
Along with sitting on the panel…a most vivid memory was meeting  Dr. Emmi Pikler. Dr. Pikler was the featured speaker and spoke  of “The Competent Infant”….
When it was Magda’s turn to make her presentation she was introduced with the dignity and respect that she deserved…She was presented to the audience of 500 as Magda Gerber….founder of Resources for Infant Educarers.
Post by Roseann Murphy
Posted by: Roseann Murphy | March 8, 2012

Parenting on a Schedule: A Matter of Attention

          After a brief sabbatical I have returned to the business of education and child development. I am currently working with three infant girls ranging in age from ten weeks to ten months. In addition, I am working with an eighteen month old boy who entered our program at ten weeks of age. His first care arrangement did not work out so little Cal’s adjustment required patience and open communication between home and here. These experiences bring back wonderful memories. I find myself picking up right where I left off a few years ago, spending my day observing infant behavior and allowing the optimal environment for eating, sleeping and playing.
ImageIn  October 1982 Madga Gerber of Resources for Infant Educarer fame was interviewed by The New Age Source News Publication.  As always Magda Gerber’s insight follows through all the years, fads and philosophies.  We continue to hear the terms “quality time or special time” especially in today’s technologically foggy world. Magda was asked what is helpful to the child when parents are so busy and time is so limited.  Magda responded: “What is it that is helpful to the child? What is it that enhances a child’s positive sense of themselves? Pikler found that it is important for young children to interact consistently with one or two stable adults regardless of whether or not they are the parent. Bathing, dressing and being attentive for at least some period of time each day was found significant” (New Age Source, October 1982 page 3.)
The A Bilingual Childhood Education Blog by Magdalena S. Palencia March, 2012 article came at a most opportune time. Here, I am able to share this insightful article with current readers and participants in my program. “Parenting on a Schedule: A Matter of Attention,” has little to do with “schedules” as we might imagine. When we think of schedules we often attach the meaning of specific time…of minutes and hours.  Gerber and Magdalena S. Palencia seemed to transcend time-lines and emphasize the need for attention to the child.
Magdalena’s article emphasizes as did Magda Gerber and Emmie Pikler,  the need for consistency and for “full-on” attention when caring for your child.   As child care professionals, Magdalena and I realized a care giving situation was successful only if the parent had trust in the program and the carers. As Magdalena states, “If a child does not feel secure in a routine where their parents come and go on a consistent basis and where they are clearly communicated to on a level they can understand, and then they will express their confusion in different ways. Some will show changes in the way they play or eat and might have difficulty sleeping. In extreme cases the child may cry, scream or is some cases grab the parent’s leg.”
For those of us in the field, it is very obvious when a parent is not secure in their choice of care. Their child can never relax.  They are always “waiting”.  When a parent innocently says, “Go ahead into school..When I return we will go to the park, get candy or go to the movies.” The message to the child reads, “This is just a place where you have to wait… until I return and then we will have fun.”  We have observed children unable to play, unable to rest…while they wait for that magical time. If the schedule changes during the course of the day and the parent is unable to fulfill the promise, the day is ruined for the child. In addition time stands still.
An excellent example of respect, communication and children allowed to take the lead in play is apparent in the photos in the article. The wild car and the play house are the result of hours of uninterrupted play. In an optimal family or child care setting a child is allowed to play freely during the day.
This article touches on many important areas of parenting and child care.  It is a pleasure to share it with you.

Parenting on a Schedule: A Matter of Attention

          The arrival of an infant brings modifications in the family dynamic as well as changes in schedules. For moments it feels as if the time stops and parents have to make plans for the rest of their lives aImages if that new person will stay like that forever. On the other hand a mixed feeling of anxiety and pressure to not lose even one instant of these first months can set in for the parents. Because time with the child can be limited by other obligations, parents will look for the right ways to make the best use of it. Observing, talking and paying attention to a child from day one will establish a real relationship between the parent and the child that will remain with them through all the different stages of life. The way to accomplish this is for parents to focus completely on the needs of their child and when they are together, make sure that the child has their complete focus and attention.

        Trying to set a schedule that works for a family with a new child can be an exceptional challenge. It is most effectively managed, to the benefit of the child, when a parent is focused on the schedule, rhythm and needs of their child. It is true that many parents make sacrifices at work, with their social lives, etc. to be with their children, but expecting a child to show their appreciation for that in an adult way is completely ridiculous. For example, a parent may be fortunate enough to get off of work very early and may arrive home at the time when their child is asleep or eating. In this case they might insist on playing with the child in order to have more interactive “one on one” time. If the child continues to go about their schedule or routine, which may include a long nap, at that moment, the parent may feel ignored or unappreciated by them. Instead, a parent should recognize that they are showing their child respect by giving them a secure environment to freely develop without abrupt interruptions. On the other hand a parent may come home, break the child’s routine or expect them to want to play, because they came home specifically to have some “special time.” This may be a very special time, but only for the parent, because the child will be putting their development at hold to accommodate their parent’s need for a superficial adult level of appreciation that they are completely unable to provide. This kind of “special time” may make the parent feel special about how many minutes of “quality time” they spend with their child. The child on the other hand might feel especially tired.

          Keeping in mind that an infant is completely unfamiliar with what the terms, hour, minute, next week, etc. means it is more important for a parent to be fully present when they are with their child instead of attempting to gain their sympathy by explaining their work hours. A parent who may have to be gone for longer than their normal work routine may feel obligated to give their child reassuring words such as, “I’ll be gone for a few days, but I’ll have all of Saturday to spend with you.” This statement may reassure the parent of when they will be back, but ultimately the child will have no concept of… READ MORE

Posted by: Roseann Murphy | March 8, 2012

Parenting on a Schedule: A Matter of Attention

After a brief sabbatical I have returned to the business of education and child development. I am currently working with three infant girls ranging in age from ten weeks to ten months. In addition, I am working with an eighteen month old boy who entered our program at ten weeks of age. His first care arrangement did not work out so little Cal’s adjustment required patience and open communication between home and here. These experiences bring back wonderful memories. I find myself picking up right where I left off a few years ago, spending my day observing infant behavior and allowing the optimal environment for eating, sleeping and playing.
Image           In October 1982 Madga Gerber of Resources for Infant Educarer fame was interviewed by The New Age Source News Publication.  As always Magda Gerber’s insight follows through all the years, fads and philosophies.  We continue to hear the terms “quality time or special time” especially in today’s technologically foggy world. Magda was asked what is helpful to the child when parents are so busy and time is so limited.  Magda responded: “What is it that is helpful to the child? What is it that enhances a child’s positive sense of themselves? Pikler found that it is important for young children to interact consistently with one or two stable adults regardless of whether or not they are the parent. Bathing, dressing and being attentive for at least some period of time each day was found significant” (New Age Source, October 1982 page 3.)
The A Bilingual Childhood Education Blog by Magdalena S. PalenciaMarch, 2012 article came at a most opportune time. Here, I am able to share this insightful article with current readers and participants in my program. “Parenting on a Schedule: A Matter of Attention,” has little to do with “schedules” as we might imagine. When we think of schedules we often attach the meaning of specific time…of minutes and hours.  Gerber and Magdalena S. Palencia seemed to transcend time-lines and emphasize the need for attention to the child.
Magdalena’s article emphasizes as did Magda Gerber and Emmie Pikler,  the need for consistency and for “full-on” attention when caring for your child.   As child care professionals, Magdalena and I realized a care giving situation was successful only if the parent had trust in the program and the carers. As Magdalena states, “If a child does not feel secure in a routine where their parents come and go on a consistent basis and where they are clearly communicated to on a level they can understand, and then they will express their confusion in different ways. Some will show changes in the way they play or eat and might have difficulty sleeping. In extreme cases the child may cry, scream or is some cases grab the parent’s leg.”
For those of us in the field, it is very obvious when a parent is not secure in their choice of care. Their child can never relax.  They are always “waiting”.  When a parent innocently says, “Go ahead into school..When I return we will go to the park, get candy or go to the movies.” The message to the child reads, “This is just a place where you have to wait… until I return and then we will have fun.”  We have observed children unable to play, unable to rest…while they wait for that magical time. If the schedule changes during the course of the day and the parent is unable to fulfill the promise, the day is ruined for the child. In addition time stands still.
An excellent example of respect, communication and children allowed to take the lead in play is apparent in the photos in the article. The wild car and the play house are the result of hours of uninterrupted play. In an optimal family or child care setting a child is allowed to play freely during the day.
This article touches on many important areas of parenting and child care.  It is a pleasure to share it with you.

Parenting on a Schedule: A Matter of Attention

          The arrival of an infant brings modifications in the family dynamic as well as changes in schedules. For moments it feels as if the time stops and parents have to make plans for the rest of their lives aImages if that new person will stay like that forever. On the other hand a mixed feeling of anxiety and pressure to not lose even one instant of these first months can set in for the parents. Because time with the child can be limited by other obligations, parents will look for the right ways to make the best use of it. Observing, talking and paying attention to a child from day one will establish a real relationship between the parent and the child that will remain with them through all the different stages of life. The way to accomplish this is for parents to focus completely on the needs of their child and when they are together, make sure that the child has their complete focus and attention.

        Trying to set a schedule that works for a family with a new child can be an exceptional challenge. It is most effectively managed, to the benefit of the child, when a parent is focused on the schedule, rhythm and needs of their child. It is true that many parents make sacrifices at work, with their social lives, etc. to be with their children, but expecting a child to show their appreciation for that in an adult way is completely ridiculous. For example, a parent may be fortunate enough to get off of work very early and may arrive home at the time when their child is asleep or eating. In this case they might insist on playing with the child in order to have more interactive “one on one” time. If the child continues to go about their schedule or routine, which may include a long nap, at that moment, the parent may feel ignored or unappreciated by them. Instead, a parent should recognize that they are showing their child respect by giving them a secure environment to freely develop without abrupt interruptions. On the other hand a parent may come home, break the child’s routine or expect them to want to play, because they came home specifically to have some “special time.” This may be a very special time, but only for the parent, because the child will be putting their development at hold to accommodate their parent’s need for a superficial adult level of appreciation that they are completely unable to provide. This kind of “special time” may make the parent feel special about how many minutes of “quality time” they spend with their child. The child on the other hand might feel especially tired.

          Keeping in mind that an infant is completely unfamiliar with what the terms, hour, minute, next week, etc. means it is more important for a parent to be fully present when they are with their child instead of attempting to gain their sympathy by explaining their work hours. A parent who may have to be gone for longer than their normal work routine may feel obligated to give their child reassuring words such as, “I’ll be gone for a few days, but I’ll have all of Saturday to spend with you.” This statement may reassure the parent of when they will be back, but ultimately the child will have no concept of… READ MORE

Posted by: Roseann Murphy | February 6, 2012

At The Gate (an ongoing series)

 “The human capacity to care for others isn’t something trivial or something to be taken for granted. Rather, it is something we should cherish. Compassion is a marvel of human nature, a precious inner resource, and the foundation of our well-being and the harmony of our societies. If we seek happiness for ourselves, we should practice compassion: and if we seek happiness for others, we should also practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

At The Gate (An Ongoing Series)

       The Little River School Gate was a very special place.  It was the place where children said goodbye to their parents in the morning and greeted their parents at the end of the day.  This was a very intimate time.  Oftentimes parents were in a rush, but Magdalena and I always made certain that this moment was special.  The transition from home to school for very young children is a difficult time.  Although a child might look eager and run in with just a wave goodbye, there is always that moment in every child’s life where they wonder if their parent will return.
       All schools enter and exit in different fashions.  At Little River we made every effort to say good morning and remind the child that we are so glad they  arrived and  Mom and Dad will return in the afternoon. We made it a point to avoid morning departures that ended with, “when I pick you up we we will go for candy or a treat.”  The message always implied that the child would have to endure the day with a reward when they return.  Parents may not  realize the implication, but it was there.  We helped the transition by advising the parent to say a hug and a kiss goodbye and they would see them after school.  Children could just enjoy the activities without the worry and anticipation.
      The Gate served many purposes and over the course of the next few weeks we hope to share some of the memories of this intimate time.
– Post by Roseann Murphy
.
Magdalena S. Palencia
 “when I pick you up we will go for candy or a treat.”  This sends different messages from the parent to the child. First, it defines school for the child as a punishment or chore that has to be rewarded. Also, it transfers the parents insecurity to the child. If the parent thinks they have to compensate putting a child somewhere with something like candy, then they are essentially apologizing to the child for where they are putting them. This affects a child, because they brought with them the uncomfortable feeling that their parents conveyed with this kind of bargaining when there was no need. This made it very difficult for the child to be present, enjoy and learn from the days experiences. Putting this pressure and expectation on the child, did not allow them to comfortably play, eat or sleep and affected the other children too. 

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