MontessoRIE (Montessori and RIE-inspired) parent-infant classes are scheduled for next semester! These classes run continuously but in 6-week blocks, rather than semester-long so that parents can opt out of a block if they are vacationing, etc.. For more information about RIE, visit rie.org or janetlansbury.com.
Pre-Walking Infants & Parents: Saturday mornings from 8-9 a.m. at Sweet Pea’s Studio 3717 North Ravenswood #217.
January 7- February 11 $85
Walking Children & Parents: Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 at Demeter’s Montessori 1775 West Devon.
January 13-February 17 $85
In these classes we spend an hour together with the first half hour spent in quiet observation, watching our babies, finding them where they are, and seeing what they are capable of. We call this “wants nothing” time. In the second half of the class we come together as adults. The children have acclimated and are engaged with the environment or each other and we can have a discussion on a topic which has been emailed the week previous. Sometimes the discussion takes its own form as parents’ need for support is met.
Regarding the quiet observation time: Babies and children need a safe space. This means a place where they come to predict what will be there and what they will do. Security, not novelty, is what they really need. They also need to be cognitively challenged (appropriate materials) and emotionally nurtured (caring relationship.) That is it.
We don’t intervene when children are concentrating as it disrupts them and the flow doesn’t happen. Uninterrupted play can last while the child has energy and focus and doesn’t show you that he needs relationship. If he is not doing anything, isn’t that okay? Don’t we sometimes do nothing? Don’t project boredom. He is never bored but he is sometimes finished.
Does this mean we leave our children alone? We can when they are in their “safe space.” But we can also be with them, observing. This is “wants nothing time.” One father, Peter Mangione, says “your baby will tell you when he wants to interact with you.”
Thomas Mann said “Solitude is an important expression of the original in all of us.” For most of our history, babies had “alone time.” During the 1950s and 1960s children had playpens and they were left there for hours! They played; they fell asleep; they awoke and played some more. Now it sounds like child abuse or at best benign neglect to leave a child in a play-jail. We prefer to leave them confined in containers while we tote them from room to room with us while we do the things parents need to do (clean, cook, shower).
When left on their own, babies change position every minute. They develop elasticity and balance. They self regulate as they move from one activity to another.
Also, parents needs and rights are respected. I’m always surprised when I hear parents say they haven’t been to the bathroom alone in years. You may go to the bathroom alone because you have created a safe space where your child feels secure and you know he will not hurt himself if you need to leave for some amount of time.
He loves nursing.” “He loves TV.” “He loves when I play with him.” Read up on conditioning. What babies get, they come to expect, and eventually they need.
Here is a quote from the RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) board of directors from 2010.
“The infant needs an intimate, stable relationship with at least one primary person. This relationship can best be developed during “caretime” — diapering, dressing, feeding and bathing. These activities offer excellent opportunities for teaching cooperation, language, body image and mutuality in task-oriented experiences. The infant is an active participant rather than a passive recipient during caretime. The infant needs a safe and carefully designed environment in which to move, explore and manipulate. He thus achieves the stages of gross motor and sensory-motor development in his own time. Spontaneous, self-induced activities, which the infant pursues freely and autonomously, have an essential value for his/her physical and mental development. The pleasure in the process of exploration and mastery is self-reinforcing. The infant becomes intrinsically motivated to learn. Meanwhile, the Educarer must learn to observe, understand and respect the individuality of the infant and respond with sensitivity and empathy to the infant’s cues.”