Visible Child’s Parent-Infant and Parent Toddler classes and playgroups operate a bit differently from many other classes and playgroups. This is the case because we come to class with a particular approach and philosophy, one that is not often reflected in traditional classes. This is not to say that there is anything wrong or bad about other groups or methods–ours is just different, with a different set of goals. We want you to know a bit about the difference, so you can decide whether you might like to join us on this wonderful journey.
Our Model and Foundation
Visible Child offers parent-infant classes that are inspired by the life and work of some amazing theorists and practitioners. We do not follow one “philosophy” in a rigid way, but are most powerfully influenced by the life and work of Magda Gerber (founder of RIE) and all those whose theory and practice emphasize a deep respect for young children as full and highly individual human beings from the moment of birth. We draw upon the terrific writing of Alfie Kohn, Playful Parenting, and the Conscious Parenting and Conscious Discipline movements. We are deeply informed by the research on attachment, temperament, and infant-toddler development. We believe that, as with all things, the “middle way”– being eclectic in parenting–is often the best course, and that rigid adherence to any particular way of parenting—especially without considering the ways in which it matches your or your child’s temperament, lifestyle, and beliefs—is likely to lead to significant struggle at some point.
We follow a model that we like to call “Mindful and Proactive”. Mindful Parenting refers to parenting children (of all ages) in a way that reflects respect, conscious decision-making, positive “discipline”, and a deep and abiding belief that children are full, autonomous beings from birth, with their own views, preferences, and ways of being and relating in the world, and that they deserve the respect that we would give to any other person, including trusting and honor their own physical and motor development. Proactive Parenting is a view of parenting that keeps the long term in mind. In making decisions, we encourage parents to focus on the “end result” rather than solely the immediate behavior or outcome. There are strategies that work well in the moment and very poorly in the long term…and vice versa. It’s a mindset that keeps the long run in perspective when parenting, especially with young children.
So How is it Different From Other Parent-Child Classes?
- We focus on observation and trust in the infant or toddler to “be where they are” and follow their own developmental schedule, with trust that they know their own timeline. We discuss age-appropriate expectations and help parents to recognize readiness and read the signals that babies provide, so that they might respond effectively and respectfully.
- We recognize that, for a baby, the entire world is stimulation. We are aware that infants are full, thinking people who may have their own process and thoughts going on, and our introducting stimuli may in fact be interrupting what they are processing, rather than enhancing it.
- We focus on child-led play with simple toys, observing and respecting what the children do with the materials. We believe that many of the challenges that we encounter with toddler and preschool years, as well as attention issues, arise out of infants and toddlers who grow accustomed to receiving a lot of stimulation and being entertained.
- We are aware that simply being in a room with other children is socialization for infants and toddlers, and that we do not need do anything to “promote” socialization other than letting them observe and interact in their own way. We trust infants and toddlers to explore in their own way and time, and to choose to interact with other children and adults or not, as they so choose. We do recognize that our classes are valuable social opportunities for the parents.
- We trust toddlers to work out most social conflicts themselves, recognizing that it is often the adults’ fears and projections that make “sharing” and “scuffles” problematic. Of course, we do not allow children to hurt one another or themselves, and we discuss strategies for how to effectively and respectfully set limits and guide their behavior when necessary. We recognize the research-based, developmental reality that “sharing” is not something that young children can really do in an authentic way, and with that knowledge, we do not suggest that they “share”, but offer alternative perspectives on what most adults consider “sharing.”
- We tend to focus on the bigger picture, the “long term” picture. We ask ourselves what sort of people do we want for our children to be as older children and adults, and we reflect on the power of the pathways and the habits that we put in place during their earliest days that are powerfully connected to those outcomes.
- We focus on “natural motor development”, which encourages children to learn through experience what their own bodies are capable of at any given stage, and respects the limits that that stage naturally creates.
- We rely on a strengths-based model that accepts each child’s development as unique and adaptive. We see our role as parents as to observe and understand our children—how they think, how they learn, what they like, what they are able to do, what they most enjoy, and figure out what our part is in supporting them (which sometimes means getting out of their way, or changing the way we envisioned parenting.)
Why choose this type of class or philosophy?
Good question! A lot of people say “why is it that these days you need a PHILOSOPHY of parenting?”, implying that it’s all too overthought, and that there’s too much pressure on parents today to “do it a certain way” or “do it right.” Our answer? You DON’T need a philosophy. And no, there is not a certain way…and no one does it “right.” It’s all about what fits with your long term goals. What do you want for your children? Independence? To be self-motivated? Happiness? Achievement? Emotional health? Strong communication and people skills? And maybe even more importantly, what do you want for yourself as a parent? As you watch parents of older children in your families and communities, do you want your interactions with your kids to be like theirs, or do you want something different? Can you define what that is?
No matter what you want, it starts in infancy. Patterns and pathways are laid down. They set the stage for all future interactions. We are confident–and the research supports–that this philosophy is a strong foundation for an independent, confident, self-confident, and emotionally healthy child and adult. Read more (links below) and think about whether it might be for you!
So how do you know if this is right for you?
- You can call and talk with Robin, the group facilitator, and ask any and all questions you might have.
- You can come to an open house class (next one May 21, 2017)
- You can come to visit one class. Individual drop-in slots are available on a space-available basis, and cost $20. You can come with your child and see whether you think this is a good match for you.
- You can read up online at the following sites, and see whether this is something that sounds like it might resonate with you:
Elevating Child Care Hand in Hand Parenting RIE Alfie Kohn Respectful Parent
Please contact Robin at (781) 718-5736 or at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, for more information, or to have a chat to see if this is the right class for you.
Note: we are not an affiliated or certified RIE class, and do not identify as such; however, many of our principles and foundations are based around the work of the founder of RIE, Magda Gerber, and her teacher and mentor, Emmi Pikler. If you are looking for a certified RIE course, please contact RIE at the link provided above.