The aim of PPCK Parent-Infant classes is for parents to learn about respectful parenting methods in a supportive and serene environment set up specifically to foster independent and authentic play for infants. In doing so, the classes aim to bring about a closer connection between parent and child and encourage confidence in children right from the very beginning.
The classes will evolve organically based on the needs of the children and the parents. In other words, there is no set curriculum for discussion as the babies will create many moments for discussion and problem solving throughout the class. Parents may also have their own issues or concerns from home they wish to bring up through the classes.
For the younger (less mobile) infants, parents will be invited to place their baby down on a mat, sitting in front of them so the infant can easily make eye contact with their parent. At this age, there will be a few play objects strategically placed around that the mat for inquisitive infants (very young infants are often more interested in their own body and the environment around them more so than play objects).
It is important for these young babies that movements made by adults are slow and predictable and that noise from conversations is kept low where possible. There will be opportunity for quiet observation in each class where the adults in the room will refrain from talking and focus only on the children and their movements.
For older, more mobile infants, there will be a few more play objects placed around the room, including some climbing opportunities appropriate to the age level of the group. Once the children in the group are able to sit by themselves, (and have had some time to become accustomed to the class and me (the facilitator)) snack time will be introduced. At this time children will be given the opportunity to participate in a group snack around a small table.
Snack time is completely at the will of the child and they will not be coerced into participating should they decide not to. We often find that many children take quite some time before they feel comfortable to partake in snack and that is perfectly fine. The main purpose of this time in the class is not to feed the children but rather, to demonstrate setting limits, offering choices and slowing down care-giving moments. Children will be required to stay at the table to eat the snack (a banana), wipe their hands before and after eating and to wear a bib.
During all classes there will be a designated period for sensitive observation where adults will be asked to observe their child quietly. This will be followed by a discussion about what was noticed.
Inevitably (particularly in the older infant classes) there will be conflict between the children. It is important to understand that this is expected and completely developmentally normal. In PPCK Parent-Infant classes, the children will not be forced to share or take turns. As the class facilitator, I will be present during such altercations to support the children to work through their tussles safely but in their own way. There will be times when children will demonstrate strong emotions during conflict and will look for emotional support and empathy from their parents. I strongly urge you to read the following articles on conflict and emotions to help you to understand the role you can play in supporting your children through these times.
The Baby Social: 5 Hints for Creating Safe and Joyful Playgroups ~ Janet Lansbury
Creating Bonds: Accepting a Child’s Emotions ~ Kate Russell
There may be a time where parents need to leave the room to go to the bathroom etc. It is normal for a child to feel upset about a parent leaving and to cry for the duration. They will be supported through their emotion but not distracted from it. They are right to feel upset but will soon discover that their parent always returns and learn to trust in that separation. Always tell your child you are leaving the room before you go, even if they are happily playing and you know it will upset them. This ritual is about establishing trust. I have observed that toddlers refer to their parents several times each minute, even when engrossed in play. To look up and notice their parent missing is more distressing for them than when they are told confidently that their parent is going to use the bathroom and will be back in a minute. Similarly, when you return, you can let them know so there can be a reunion of sorts.
It is advisable to choose a position in the room to sit (cushions will be set around the perimetre) and then remain in the spot throughout the class duration. Of course, there may be times you will need to get up but if you always return to the same spot, your child will get confident that he/she can always expect to find you there at any given moment. In subsequent classes, choosing the same seating position will ensure that continuity and confidence in the space is created.
Play objects are regarded as any objects that can be manipulated, examined, touched etc by a child through the course of their play. In PPCK classes, play objects will be simple and mostly open ended. In older classes there will be a few home toys (dolls, phones etc) as well as some wheeled objects but mostly, the objects will be containers and manipulatives that the children can investigate and experiment with. Please leave any other favourite play things at home or in the car as it can become a distraction for children.
Referring to children:
It can be disconcerting for a child to hear their name spoken by their parents or other adults whilst they are playing. As the point of the class is to discuss the children, their progress and the relationships forming, talking about them in their presence is often a necessity. Where possible, it would be good if we could refer to the children (if we are talking about them rather than to them) without using their name. Eg Green shirt was playing with the cup and then blue dress wanted a turn. I know that sounds strange but it is one way to get around talking about the children whilst being respectful.
I don’t want this list to come across as a set of hard and fast rules but rather a guideline for getting the feel of the classes established. It can take quite some time to get used to the differences discovered in respectful parenting practices but I can guarantee once you see it in action over a period of time you will find it an amazing and life-changing experience for you and your family.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me either via email (email@example.com) or phone (0414799430) or Facebook (Kate Russell or Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)