Meeting the needs of the infants respectfully
Magda Gerber is a child therapist, lecturer and consultant on infant care. Over several decades Magda has observed infants become authentic children who feel secure, independent and competent.
Magda Gerber coined the term ‘Educare’ as – we should educate while we care and care while we educate. Her guiding principles based on respect enabled children and caregivers to work in harmony when meeting the needs of the infant. Incorporating a deep respect and appreciation of the baby as more than a helpless object. Magda Gerber’s Educaring approach encourages infants and adults to trust each other, learn to problem solve, and embrace their ability for self-discovery. When allowed to unfold in their own way and in their own time, children discover and inspire the best in themselves and in others.
Respect is the basis of the Educare approach. “We not only respect babies, we demonstrate our respect every time we interact with them. Respecting a child means treating even the youngest infant as a unique human being, not as an object. The goal of respectful practice is an authentic child who feels secure, independent and competent. When we help a child to feel secure, feel appreciated, feel that ‘somebody is deeply, truly interested in me’ by the way we just look and listen, we influence that child’s whole personality and the way that child sees life”Gerber, M (2002).
Here at Star we embrace the ideas and principles of the Educaring approach and this is evident within our philosophy.
Guiding Principles – Towards respectful care-giving
Trust in the infant’s competence
We have basic trust in the infant to be an initiator, to be an explorer eager to learn what he is ready for. Because of this trust, we provide the infant with only enough help necessary to allow the child to enjoy mastery of her own actions.
Caregiving times: involving the child
During care activities (nappy change, feeding, bathing, dressing, etc.), we encourage even the tiniest infant to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient of the activities. Parents create opportunities for interaction, cooperation, intimacy and mutual enjoyment by being wholeheartedly with the infant during the time they spend together anyway. “Refueled” by such unhurried, pleasurable caring experiences, infants are ready to explore their environment with only minimal intervention by adults.
Our method, guided by respect for the infant’s competence, is observation. We observe carefully to understand the infant’s communications and his needs. The more we observe, the more we understand and appreciate the enormous amount and speed of learning that happens during the first two or three years of life. We become more humble, we teach less, and we provide an environment for learning instead.
A safe, challenging predictable environment
Our role is to create an environment in which the child can best do all the things that the child would do naturally. The more predictable an environment is, the easier it is for babies to learn. As infants become more mobile, they need safe, appropriate space in which to move. Their natural, inborn desire to move should not be handicapped by the environment.
Time for uninterrupted play and freedom to explore
We give the infant plenty of time for uninterrupted play. Instead of trying to teach babies new skills, we appreciate and admire what babies are actually doing.
We establish clearly defined limits and communicate our expectations to develop discipline.
- Before picking up a baby, we tell him what we’re going to do. We do things with, not to or for, a baby.
- We allow the child to experience conflict and work it out for herself; letting the child experience pain or sorrow, and letting her choose when and if she wants to be comforted.
- We need to be clear and honest. Uncertainty produces a nagging child.
- Children need expectations; they need to know the rules. Discipline is an integral part of a rooted, secure feeling. A child who is never told “no” is a neglected child.