Magda Gerber, a world-renowned child therapist and authority in early childhood education developed a revolutionary philosophy of infant care based on treating infants with respect and trust in their abilities to develop naturally at their own pace. In her book Dear Parents: Caring for Infants with Respect, she says, “I think Jean Piaget said it beautifully: When you teach a child something, you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself.”
Ms. Gerber gained a unique understanding of how the adults in children’s lives could nurture the development of genuine, authentic babies by encouraging their spontaneity and drive to learn and discover on their own.
Many of Ms. Gerber’s ideas were simple common sense ones, such as the importance of giving full attention and engaging the infant during everyday caregiving activities such as feeding, bathing and diapering.
Yet these ideas were unconventional when she began to introduce them in the U.S. in the early 1970’s. Today, Ms. Gerber’s methods have become widely accepted and commonly practiced by professionals. The term EduCarer in which Ms. Gerber coined, refers to an adult emphasizing the influence of caring and educating.
The basic principles of Ms. Gerber’s approach are:
- Basic trust in the child to be an initiator, an explorer and a self-learner.
- An environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing.
- Time for uninterrupted play.
- Freedom to explore and interact with other infants.
- Involvement of the child in all activities to allow the child to be an active participant, rather than a passive recipient.
- Sensitive observation of the child in order to understand her/his needs.
- Consistency and clearly defined limits and expectations to develop positive discipline.
At Piaget Art School & Nursery, an infant/toddler licensed center in Central Maui, EduCarers are focused on these criteria along with creative art experiences. The use of raw materials such as bamboo, newspaper, beach sand, mud-play, collected seashells, and more promotes sustainability and renewability and is at the core of the program’s curriculum — while honoring child development authorities such as Maria Montessori, Dr. Jean Piaget, and Magda Gerber.
Piaget Art School & Nursery believes that if children (as young as 0-3 years of age), are authentically engaged through their own interests, children thrive life-long. For more information, visit ejbeducationalservices.com.
—Elizabeth J. Salahub, MA