Infants as Competent Learners

I had a really fun week.  I usually work in the toddler room.  This summer though, I had the opportunity to take a leave (read, much welcomed rest!) and am just filling in for some vacation time.  So, this week I found myself in the infant room.  As usual, when I spend time with infants, I come away amazed!  

Since I have been reading and learning more about the RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) a philosophy based on the work of Magda Gerber, I have a greater then ever appreciation and respect for infants as tiny, capable, and competent human beings.  Throughout this blog post I would like to share some of my observations and also include some of Magda Gerber's wise quotes.

My co-worker put out a bin of oatmeal as a sensory experience for the infants.

They became scientists.

They clutched it with their hands, scooped it with cups, spooned it, poured it, tossed it, stepped in it.

And tasted it.  Of course.

An infant always learns. The less we interfere with the natural process of learning, the more we can observe how much infants learn all the time.

Children do not play because they learn; They play because they play.

The infant room has a beautiful, well used patio that is fully enclosed.  Just outside is a lovely, bright flower garden and bushes.  We can hear squirrels and birds and cars and trucks going by in the parking lot.

What infants need is the opportunity and time to take in and figure out the world around them.

The parents have been invited to share small posters with pictures of their family.  They might include pictures of grand-parents or other significant family members as well as pets or pictures of special events etc. Laminating the posters allows the children to enjoy them at eye level. These two little boys spent a lot of time this week enjoying the posters.  I could see that the pictures were very valuable and special to them.  They could point out mom and dad, find the dog and see the grandma and grandpa's.

What parents teach is themselves, as models of what is human - by their moods, their reactions, their facial expressions and actions. These are the real things parents need to be aware of, and of how they affect their children. Allow them to know you, and it might become easier for them to learn about themselves.

While some of the little's were sleeping, I got to spend some outside time with these not as little, little's.  Water and dirt.  It never fails to be the best toy ever!

By closely supervising our infants, by allowing them to do what they are capable of, by restraining ourselves from rescuing them too often, by waiting and waiting and waiting, by giving minimal help when they really need it, we allow our infants to learn and grow at their own time and in their own way. I believe that, no matter how much and how fast the world changes, a well-grounded, competent, and confident person is best equipped to adapt to it. This is our goal.


If you are interested in reading More on RIE click the link!

As well you can check out Janet Landsbury's website here.  She is an RIE parent educator.  

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