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Many people who have seen the 25-minute film The Tricycle Solution; or have participated in Effie’s Workshops, have asked for more of her philosophy and way of teaching.
This material is taken from what was left of the interview the filmmaker conducted with Effie for the commentary to the film. Rearranged and edited, I call it simply More From Effie. Enjoy! Ursula Krainock is a friend and fellow Bank Street Graduate.
|More From Effie||•••••••••••••••••|
35 years I have been director/teacher of a parent education program. In
the context of a co-op. Nursery school, sponsored by City College of San
For the past 22 of those years the school has been located in a building rented from San Francisco’s Parks and Recreation Department. Nestled against an outcrop of rocks, it acquired the name: Rocky Mountain Parent Participation Nursery School, simply referred to here as Rocky Mountain.
A short walk up the hill are garden plots which Park and Rec. make available to the public, two of which are cultivated by parents and children of the school.
This is a beautiful laboratory-that’s what the school is, a laboratory-with growing vegetables, growing children and growing parents.
Parents who join the school commit to participating one morning (3 hours) a week during school time, as well as to one weekly evening meeting.
They come to Rocky Mountain thinking that it’s a god place for their child. Very quickly they realize that it’s also a place where they get to address important issues for themselves, some of which they’ve
Struggled with all their lives.
Here they are invited to play: build with blocks, work with play dough, with sand, with paints; hammer nails, swing, sing songs, and much more. They get to experience materials as a child does but from an adult level. Inevitably they are drawn back into their own childhood and they remember not only the pleasures but also the hurts.
Since parenting is what we focus on here, the way they were parented will come up for them. Here we are interested in what happened to you, the mother or father, when you were afraid to say something because it wasn’t allowed, when you spilled the milk, or broke something, or fell down. How did your parents handle those situations? How did they react when you lied or made up a story and didn’t know that it was lying? Many times those experiences and related emotions still live inside you and may cause you to react in a similar manner to your own children.
Here at Rocky Mountain you get to notice how other parents are dealing with eating, toileting, bedtime, discipline, grandparents’ expectations etc. Then you have the opportunity to talk about it all, and in the process you may revise what you thought was the right way to deal with a situation, and learn to respond in a more compassionate manner.
It all gets addressed comfortably, without shame or “judgment”. Nothing is hidden.
|Protect your child, Mary bites!||For
instance—sometimes a child goes through a biting stage. I recall a
14 month-old in a Child Observation Class. Because the situation is so common
I will tell it as if it is happening in the present. The mother doesn’t
know what to do, she’s at her wits end; her child has been biting
other children, both in the class and at the playground. I ask her for permission
to make an announcement. She feels a little uncomfortable but agrees. I
announce to all the parents that when Mary is frustrated she bites, so please
make a sure that you protect your own child when Mary comes around you.
Now Mary’s mother is relieved; all the other mothers are helping her and she needn’t worry that a child may be hurt. That particular child never bit again. I don’t know why—it’s just one of the benefits of making things public.