20 Jul More About RIE Method Parenting

Editor’s Note – Tiny Trees Preschool does not endorse a specific parenting style. But occasionally we recommend articles or books that can be helpful for generating discussion on healthy childhood development. Cori’s summary below of RIE parenting, based on the article “Childhood’s End” in Vanity Fair, is one such piece.

RIE stands for Resources for Infant Educarers. The name is actually more important than you think. “Educaring” is caring for the well-being of a child but also constantly participating in their education, like talking a child through the process of a diaper change or bath time. The “resources”, some of which we will talk about below, are what have made the RIE method famous. The founder Magda Gerber didn’t just propose a parenting style, she wrote extensively on how to apply the method to any and all potential situations. Today this is largely in the form of RIE.org, best described as a wikipedia for RIE method parents.

Respect is the basis of the RIE philosophy. I know what you’re thinking – it can be difficult to “respect” a child mid-tantrum – and you’re right. However, the RIE method asks that you treat your infant or toddler as a competent human being, albeit one that can’t express itself as well as you can. This is why the RIE method encourages parents to give children as much time as possible for uninterrupted play and freedom to explore, much like Tiny Trees. Children actually teach themselves a great deal more than we realize (including self-expression) but they require a diverse and natural environment to do it, like the outdoors. These RIE concepts are reinforced by studies like this one in the Journal Pediatrics.

RIE stresses a safe, challenging and predictable environment. As I mentioned above, the core of the RIE method involves letting a child be a child. As anyone with young children will tell you, they spend the first few years of life touching, grabbing, tasting, smelling, crawling, rolling and falling. In fact, this is children educating themselves in the most developmentally important way. Unfortunately, as revealed in this study, this most crucial aspect of development is currently under threat in our country. This is what makes Tiny Trees so special; it’s specifically developed to offer children the most stimulating environment that exists – the outdoors – within safe and predictable boundaries.

Sensitive Observation. The RIE method encourages parents to confront a difficult paradox: your child actually learns more when you stop It’s a challenging idea to accept but one supported by the research on child-led play by Dr. David Whitebread of Cambridge University. Again, this is an area where Tiny Trees offers something unique; facilitating play and active participatory learning, as opposed to merely keeping children occupied.

Trust in the infants competence. Much like respecting a child mid-tantrum, it can be difficult to accept the idea of trusting in an infant’s competence. To me, this is the most important aspect of both the RIE method and the Tiny Trees curriculum. Tiny Trees educators commit to speaking to children in complex language, writing in front of children and playing guessing games that challenge young children to express independent thought. Best of all, however, is the Tiny Trees trust that children are not only safe in an outdoor preschool but they are built for it! There is no better way to invest your child with a sense of intellectual, social and physical independence than to show them your trust in their ability to thrive in nature.

To learn more about the RIE Method, visit rie.org or read the article “Childhood’s End” in Vanity Fair. Learn more about the Tiny Trees curriculum here.

Cori Simmons is a Seattle-based communications specialist. Cori spent 10 years as a children’s sports coach and special needs swim instructor, teaching children to cope with disabilities through independent physical activity. She also spent 2 years as a volunteer in the Childhaven 0-18 month unit.

RIE Baby Book Cover

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