At RIE we show respect, for example, by not picking up an infant without telling them beforehand, by talking directly to them and not over them, and by waiting for the child’s response. Such respectful attitudes help to develop an authentic child.
Trust in the infants competence
We have basic trust in the infant…because of this trust, we provide the infant with only enough help necessary to allow the child to enjoy mastery of their own actions.
As I’m reading this book, Caring For Infants with Respect, I’m reflecting on a moment during snack time with WS & his peers, SM & MS.
As I bring in my basket of water bottles for snack I can hear “baba” immediately and I know it’s WS. He’s pointing at my basket wondering where his water bottle is. I put them down and immediately let him know “WS, your water bottle is not here today. It’s being washed, and it will not be available during snack, but I do have this cup of water for you,” I say, as I show him the cup of water.
I give out everyones water bottles and he looks at me with disappointment. I let him know that I understand. “It’s so disappointing that you don’t have your water bottle and everyone else has theirs. I’m sorry, WS! But I do have this cup of water for you!”
Everyone begins to eat their snack.
WS points to SM’s water bottle.
SM: Look! He wants my water bottle..and she pulls it toward her body. This is mine!
WS knows he doesn’t have his water bottle, but he’s so interested in your water bottle. It’s big and orange! I tell SM.
SM: Oh…she pushes her water bottle timidly toward WS’s direction.
WS touches and then looks back at me and then removes his hand and keeps eating. It’s as if he was saying “see, I just wanted to touch it!” 🙂
SM: He just wanted to touch it!
MS: He can touch mine too!..she pushes her bottle toward WS with excitement.
WS touches it with a smile on his face, and then removes his hand again and keeps eating.
I did not feel the need to get up from my seat at all during this entire time to monitor this interaction with WS and his classmates. I assume that WS heard my words and understands that his water bottle is not available, and I know that he will be interested in other water bottles because they are big, bright, and different from his. Instead of assuming I’ll need to be physically involved and hovering over WS during this interaction (since he’s only 1 year old), I assume he understands what I have previously told him. I assume he is capable of understanding everything I am saying. In showing this respect for WS, I hope that it will translate to the older children too. As they go throughout our various transitions they too, will respect WS even though he is much younger.
As we approach the door to leave the studio, WS walks to the door and tries to reach for the doorknob.
SM quickly responds to his actions by standing next to him and reminding him “Only teachers open doors.” and she puts her hand on the doorknob. “I’m saving it for you, Miss I!” WS turns around and waits at the trash can for me to come over and open the door.
Thanks SM! That is respect. Keeping WS safe by giving a gentle reminder of our agreements at Elm House.