Frequently Asked Questions about Classes
What do you mean by Mindful/Proactive Parenting?
Our philosophy is discussed in this blog post. Take a look!
What happens in a class session?
Each class session lasts for one hour and 15 minutes. It’s generally a very relaxing time for all. When parents and children first arrive, we ask that parents sit on the floor on the periphery of the play mat and (depending on the age of the child) either place their child down on the play mat in front of them, or, in the case of more mobile children, follow the child’s lead about where they want to be in the room and when they are ready to leave their parent’s side. We have a brief welcome and introduction if there are new participants. We then have a relatively quiet observation period for about 20-30 minutes. This is not a silent time, as the adults do speak to one another and the children if the children need help or limit setting, or if children initiate. During this time, the class facilitator also models different strategies that support independent play and respect children’s emotions and autonomy. At the end of that period, we talk about what we observed. Following that, the children continue to play and the facilitator shares a topic or two about development of the age range of the class, based on our observations, followed by questions, answers, and general conversation. As struggles arise for or between children, strategies for dealing with those struggles are modeled and discussed. The last 10 minutes are spend in cleanup and wrap up, and then we say goodbye until next time! The Child is the Curriculum.
If the class is mainly observation and discussion, what do the kids DO? And what do they learn?
Our classes are designed to support parents in building strong observation skills and learning and practicing peaceful and respectful interactions with their children. Part of doing that is allowing children the space to make their own decisions–yes, even in infancy. There is an age-appropriate play area with a variety of toys and activities available. We follow the children’s lead. For the most part, they play with a variety of toys and interact with one another at their own pace and in their own way. In regard to what they learn–research tells us that infants and toddlers are learning all the time simply by interacting with the world, with object, and with trusted adults. At these very young ages, they do not need classes that “teach” them anything in particular–what they need most is loving, attentive relationships and the freedom to explore.
Why observation? I watch my baby all the time!
That’s where the mindfulness comes in. Yes, we do watch our babies all the time. Just as with meditation, in which the normal activities of breathing and observing our thoughts are focused in a particular way, in mindful parenting, we devote special time to quietly watching our children as they are engaged with materials and other people in the interest of learning more about who they are as people, especially in moments in which adults are not actively intervening. In recent classes, one parent felt that she learned how her child dealt with conflict, another was surprised by how verbal her child was during interrupted play, and yet another was able to observe her child’s unique process of “warming up” in a new social setting. With a facilitator and other parents, these observations can be shared and discussed, enhancing our awareness of who our children as are individuals.
If I’m just “being” with my child or observing, we can do that at home. Why would we come to a class for that?
Great question! Yes, of course you can do it at home, and we hope that you do! There are several reasons why you might want to join a class.
- Sometimes, respectful or mindful parenting strategies don’t come naturally or easily to many of us, and a class is a place where you can learn more about what that means and get practice with new and different ways of being with your child, many of which will continue to pay off in future months and years.
- It’s an opportunity to meet and connect with other parents who may share similar goals in relation to peaceful and respectful parenting.
- It’s an opportunity for your child to begin to have social interactions with other children in a relaxed, no pressure environment, where there are no particular expectations, and where they can explore those relationships at their own pace and in their own way.
- There is a great deal of evidence that children under two benefit from quiet low-key, self-directed play; sometimes busy, active, or loud classes can be overwhelming for some children.
- There are plentiful opportunities to ask questions, have discussions, and get support around developmental stages and parenting challenges, both with other parents and with the facilitator, who is a highly experienced child development specialist.
I think this kind of class would be really great for me and my toddler, but it doesn’t seem necessary for my infant–things are pretty smooth, and I don’t really need support with that. Are you offering classes for older toddlers?
First off, it’s great that things are going well for you with the baby and that you feel like you’ve “got that down.” Our classes currently only go up to about 27 months, because after that point, many children need a more active curriculum and activity setup, as well as a large space. We are happy to work with individual families or small groups in an at-home setting to support these principles of caregiving.
But back to the babies for a minute. We hear this sentiment quite frequently. Things are on track with the baby–it is when they get to be toddlers or two year olds that parents feel like they need support with limit setting, dealing with “no” and behavior issues, and other challenges of toddlerhood. We get that–toddlers are oh-so-wonderful and sometimes perplexing at the same time!
Here’s something to consider, however. Many of the skills and strategies that we teach and model in these classes are things that take a while to become “natural” and smooth–and they are not always things that come easily or automatically. It can be hard for that learning curve to take place at a time when you need it the most. We have seen, over and over again, tremendous benefits to parents who begin to use respectful/mindful parenting strategies in infancy, not only because infants respond to it so beautifully and it adds so much to the parent-infant relationship, but also because by the time they are toddlers, a relationship based on respect is well established such that the typical challenges of toddlerhood are lessened…and when they DO occur (because they will), parents feel well equipped to employ peaceful and respectful tools to deal with them without even stopping to think about it.
So, yes! It’s totally worth coming when your baby is small…the younger the better! Come try it out, and see what you think.