This is part one of the Tribute to Magda Gerber series.
In 1975, when my oldest son was two, I was lucky enough to know Magda Gerber, an innovative, soon-to-be world-renowned expert on respectful infant care and development. In the 70‘s her ideas about treating infants with respect and trusting them to develop naturally – at their own pace – were revolutionary.
In 1957 Magda came to the US from Hungary where she had been mentored by pediatrician Emmi Pikler. Magda taught parents and professionals about the physiological and psychological benefits of allowing infants to self-initiate their own development in the context of a secure, authentic relationship with an adult. In the US the 70’s brought an increased interest in infant/child early development as more women were entering/reentering the workforce after having children.
I lived in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles where I met mothers whose children were the same age as my son. They introduced me to Magda. This group of mothers was starting a preschool. The school had evolved from an infant group that Magda had facilitated for their children. Ultimately, my two oldest sons attended the school. I served on the board. The guiding philosophy of the school, “Our Own School”, was based on Magda’s approach to children.
Lately I have realized that although I lost touch with Magda in 1979, she had a profound and long-lasting influence on me and my philosophy about babies and children. After more than 30 years I can still hear her voice and remember the many things she taught me. Much of what I teach and model for parents has come directly from her.