by Jackie Bartlett
One of the philosophies that inspires work at the Baby School is Resources for Infant Educarers founded by Magda Gerber. For many educators working with young children, we understand how to present a respectful, child-led, play-based curriculum for preschoolers or even toddlers; but often when it comes to working with pre-verbal people, all of that goes out the window. That's where Magda steps in. Her approach starts from a foundation of respect. RIE is a nuanced approach that relies heavily on observation. That being said, Magda offered plenty of simple advice that we receive through her writing, videos, audio interviews, as well as through stories from friends and colleagues who continue her work since her death in 2007.
The easiest piece of Magda's advice to follow is to tell your child what you are going to do to him before you do it (e.g. I'm going to pick you up; I'm going to put you in your car seat; I'm going to put your arm in the sleeve, etc.). If you are very disciplined, you can move to the next level and wait for a reaction from Baby. If you do this consistently, you will notice small changes in your child's behavior during care giving times. Your child will help! He will move his head a bit before you reach down to pick him up; he will move his arm toward the shirtsleeve. I encourage you to try it out for a few days and see what happens. I think you will find that your child is more responsive and that you feel even more connected to this little person than you did before.