Home Home Home About Us Home About Us About Us About Us /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html About Us About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html
Home About Us About Us /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html
About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html










Camps & Sports


Children’s Corner

Collected Features


Cover Stories

Distance Learning


Famous Interviews


Medical Update

Metro Beat

Movies & Theater


Music, Art & Dance

Special Education

Spotlight On Schools

Teachers of the Month


















New York City
August 2001

Cooking Up Ways of Helping Infants Grow
by Tom Kertes

Good early childhood development is scientifically acknowledged as the most important factor in a person’s later quality of life. Yet, at the same time, it’s also the part of growing up that receives the least amount of professional care and attention in our society. “In our society, there are still all too many people who are willing to spend more money on someone taking care of their dog than taking care of their young child,” said Amy Flynn, Director of the Bank Street Family Center. “It’s infuriating and ridiculous. But it’s true.”

To help change this, the Bank Street College Infancy Institute held a three-day seminar, aimed at helping caregivers outside the home to understand the array of issues affecting toddlers.

“There’s all too little education out there about raising infants,” said Dr. Nancy Balaban, the Head of Infant and Parent Development at Bank Street. “and that’s especially true as to education related to and based on developmental principles. That’s the type of help this conference aimed to provide to caregivers.” And the over 250 attendees from 13 different states and three countries indeed learned about quality care, health and safety issues, working with the whole family and learning methods. Beyond the basics, the Conference also stressed an overall “whole child” approach by addressing emotional, social, physical and intellectual issues. There was also an emphasis on cultural awareness. “We must work with each individual family and incorporate into their way of doing things,” said Amy Flynn. “Even as professionals, we can always absorb and learn. And we must keep in mind that there’s always more than one way of doing things right.”

“Everything I do is cultural, including the way I care for children and teach other people care giving skills,” said Janet Gonzales-Mena, a teacher and writer and the Conference’s Keynote Speaker. “For families whose culture is different from the prevailing dominant one, child care can have enormous implications for the identity development of their children.”

To this end, the Family Center has a 5-7 day phase-in period during which parents come in and take care of their children within the confines of the Center. “We study the way they diaper their child, the way each parent sings to them, puts them to sleep, or uses the bottle,” Flynn said. “Then, following discussions, we try to incorporate their ways into our way of taking care of the child. We try to consider the cultural context before we make any decisions with each child.”

Another essential issue is the interaction between the learning child and his or her physical environment. “Singing and Dancing For Ones and Twos,” a workshop held by Bank Street music specialist Betsy Blachley, gave caregivers valuable pointers on how to use music to engage and teach toddlers both linguistically and physically through music. “Group time” connected song and movement organically, taught strategies of putting together medleys that turn into dance games, and encouraged caregivers to make up songs and switch lyrics at the spur of the moment.

Blachley explained how a ‘hello song,’ like “Hello Everybody, Yes Indeed” at the beginning of a class can serve as an introduction, a “way of getting comfortable by getting to know each other. But change the words a little bit, and it can turn into a clapping song, or a goodbye song to ease separation at the end of the hour,” she continued.

The “What’Cha Got Cooking?” workshop demonstrated how the mere mashing of a potato or peeling of a banana enhances a child’s sensory awareness, develops motor skills, and allows the toddler to interact with the parent by exploring a part of the adult world. “Children at a very young age basically interact with their environment through sensory motor activities,” said teacher Debbie Silver. “Cooking can be a real learning experience for a very young child in so many ways. It takes the child through concepts of math, sciences, language and different cultural heritages. Plus, they’re helping mommy by doing something ‘adult.’ Cooking feeds into the child’s need to explore, to ask questions and make choices, to do things for him or herself, to feel powerful. And there’s nothing on earth that could make a toddler feel better about himself and the world.” #


Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2001.