Monday, February 14, 2011

TiME TO PLAY. OR NOT.

Today we went to a Pikler parent-infant class for the first time. Although we try to raise our child to the Pikler / Gerber / RIE approach I still wasn't so sure what exactly to expect from such a class. Which was good because I like nice surprises.



After 10 months of "homecare" and only rare encounters between little Lman and other children I had no idea how he would behave in a new environment with 7 other kids his age, new toys, other mothers. Well - apparently he was amazed. I had just taken off his jacket and sat him down to take off mine when he happily crawled away into this big room full of toys big and small. For the next 20-30 minutes he was busy discovering. I sat back and watched. Every now and then he glanced at me just to make sure I was still there. Then he would happily continue his discovery tour. Sometimes he would sit next to me with a ball or a wooden toy in his hand and watch the others play. Then he would be off again. It was so amazing to see him act like this.

The great thing about this "special class" and why it is different from other infant or toddler classes is that the parents are mainly there to watch and accompany their kids. But not to entertain them.
In a parent forum where I keep reading and discussing (although I shouldn't) people (mothers) have been complaining about those classes (they keep complaining about Pikler/Gerber in general). They said there would be a strange atmosphere, it would be too quiet for a room full of kids and the teacher would be too dogmatic. So I was watching out for that. After a while I realised yes - it is quiet in there. Considering that there are 8 children it was fairly quiet but the reason for that was that the children were playing happily. Or not. They chose what to do. If they want to play they do so and they choose from the arrangement of toys. If they want to stick with their parents they do so and nobody is "forcing" or persuading them to do anything they don't want. So the kids are busy. Or not. Of course they interact, they fall and cry, maybe one is a bit rough to another and one cries. But apart from that it is a nice relaxed atmosphere. The mothers do not sit and talk about their diaper, feeding or parenting problems. They just observe and learn about their own kids.
So instead of complaining that this atmosphere is weird one should wonder why it is so nice and quiet in there. Nobody is telling the kids to shut up.

The teacher might seem dogmatic to a person who is not familiar with the Pikler / Gerber approach as it happened in our class today. When you hear for the first time to let your child be and that it is important if he is hitting his head somewhere you are allowed to find the teacher a bit strange. Otherwise you might find very helpful advise on a subject that is playing a very important role in your life.

This is not a usual parent-infant class where the parents go to entertain their kids. This class is for the kids to enjoy free play. And for the parents to observe. It is wonderful and I can't wait to go back next week.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this experience. I love hearing about the Pikler class!

    I just want to mention (as a facilitator of these kinds of classes) that parents usually do talk together at the beginning and end of the class. There are questions and discussions. But we make sure to spend lots of time quietly observing, too, because that is the best way to learn about the children. And it's also better for the babies when we are quiet. Infants and toddlers are so incredibly aware and sensitive that the sounds of parent discussions can be an overwhelming distraction. Imagine how important and interesting our babies feel when they have our rapt attention!

    I'm going to post this on FB now.:)

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  2. Hi Janet,
    thanks for adding this info. True, we are talking a bit before and after class and we are not dead quiet in between either. but it's not the usual diaper-chat all the time which I can imagine would be highly distractive.
    We do not have those questions and discussions after class though as we have separate parent evening classes every few weeks with the teacher and without the kids. Very excited about those too.
    Oh and thanks for posting this on FB!

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  3. Hi Nadine,

    I just discovered your weblog! Thanks for spending time on sharing your experiences with raising your son 'the Pikler way'. I have a 20 months old son and discovered about Pikler when he was about six months old. I wish I had earlier as you did!

    We live in the Netherlands and after some searching the internet I found out about a Pikler play group not too far away. We attended when Kasper was 14 months and still do so.

    I enjoy every minute of it! I cannot relate to the idea of a 'weird' atmosphere at all. But I know that a mother who attended with her son and didn't come to the information evening before and didn't know anything about the philosophy was also hesitant. So the solution might be to provide information before parents attend the group (I am sure the children don't bother).

    Enjoy your classes with Leander (the parents' evenings I find very helpful as well)!

    Best wishes,
    Sanne

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  4. Hi Sanne,
    thanks for your comment. I guess discovering Pikler at Kasper's age of 6 months is still very complying.

    Glad you enjoy the Pikler class. I am very much looking forward to next week and especially the parent's class in the evening.
    I suppose proper information needs to be provided but even if it is a few people are not familiar with the concept and wonder... But that's the case with everything in life I guess.

    And thanks for stopping by on my weblog, I hope to see you around some day again.

    warm wishes,
    nadine

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