Wednesday, October 15, 2014

GRIT FOR BABIES!
By:  Terry Kalb

**This was written as a comment on Diane Ravitch's blog.  The comment, by Terry Kalb, was posted on this  post http://dianeravitch.net/2014/10/14/jcgrim-is-your-child-pre-school-ready/

I spent 19 years in infant special education- even before we even called it early intervention, I was teaching children in the 0-3 age range. Yes- I visited mothers the week their babies came home from the hospital because because they sought and wanted that support. I was in that first group of teachers in the nation earning a MS Ed in Early Childhood Special Education right after the passage of PL 94-142. My program was home-based and holistic- the goal was to help the parent(s) understand how their child’s medical condition/syndrome/extreme prematurity/ brain damage/sensory disorder impacts development, and to help that parent care for the baby’s physical, sensory, cognitive and social needs.
“I went to homes twice a week where there was no heat, no food security, overcrowding, broken windows, little furniture or toys, vermin infestation, poor lighting and broken cribs. And sometimes also there was abuse and domestic violence. I also went to homes with maids and luxury cars- any everything in between. My expertise and support made a difference for those families- but how much more of a long term difference would there be if all the children had prenatal care, safe and secure shelter, food security and access to needed medical and dental care?
“As a teacher, my job was to help the child and parent move from one step to the next developmental step, and celebrate each milestone, whenever it came, with joy. It was about attunement, attachment, engagement and play- not testing, pressure and grit. That is how babies learn- though touch and interaction and play. My job was to help the parent see a child as lovable and capable which might sound unnecessary, but learning that your child has a significant problem is a crushing blow to many parents- it is traumatic, it is a shock, and a nightmare. But yes. I recorded new milestones on a checklist of developmental skills to help the parent understand and delight in the sequence of skills as they developed- not to quantify and get a “score.”
“Rigor? Does Duncan realize we are talking about babies with poor oral-motor tone learning how to suck on a nipple? Or a baby having hundreds of seizures a day learning how to make eye contact with her mother? Or a baby with cerebral palsy lifting his head to see himself in a mirror? What Duncan is proposing is clueless, but also despicable and sinister. Is there anything in this world he cannot reduce to a data point? Grief? Laughter? Love? Acceptance? Health? Comfort? Pride? What is YOUR score Mr. Duncan?”

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