Care of the Environment – the RIE way

Recently my husband and I hosted an 8 year old birthday party at our house for our middle son, Valin.  Keeping with tradition, every other year he is invited to include as many friends as he would like- surprisingly many considering his tender age.  Reaching back, Valin drew up a list of names bringing together children and families from his Sunday school, current public elementary class, past Montessori preschool friends,  even children from his RIE Parent Infant group.  As the group of more than twenty+ kiddos converged, we stood prepared.

Midway through the festivities, my husband organized the games while I took a moment to tidy up by gathering forgotten half- eaten lunch plates, wayward cups, or bits of trash which missed reaching garbage containers.  My travels brought me to the bubble blowing contest and as I bent down to begin picking up the wrappers that had been tossed aside in the eagerness, I remarked out loud, “If anyone has any trash, I can take that for you.”

A section of the bubble blowing group separated and formed around me.  Gum wrappers appeared from closed hands or withdrawn from pockets causing me to stop.  As I looked up, I was taken aback by the faces which met me- they were all Montessori kids.

As a Montessori parent and educator, I often take for granted the “care of the environment” part of our curriculum, it’s long term effects however, now stood before me a testament to the foundation laid early on. Wrappers properly disposed of, the children turned back to the task at hand while I set off chasing a few remaining ones caught by the wind.

Of course I had to share the story with our Head of School, Megan Nordoff, sparking our contemplation: when do children absorb and demonstrate the desire and ability to Care for the Environment and why?  Is this strictly a Montessori thing?


 We find ourselves reaching beyond our observations of the primary environment discovering at Little Learners Lodge INFANTS seemingly driven to and spontaneously taking on this care of the environment as the child develops a sense of self and desire to become a contributing member to her community- think Maslov and Sense of Belonging.

All along the RIE Baby is respected and valued as a member of the family community.  When following Magda Gerber’s RIE Approach, Parents and Educarer collaborate in providing for the child and in doing so, develop an enduring relationship.  Dr. Emmi Pikler, Gerber’s pediatrician, recognized infants absorb the care they receive and assimilate that care as part of her individual psyche remaining throughout her life.

A child who is respected gives it back.

We see it first with CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT.

When CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT is modeled in an infant’s daily life, we have observed at Little Learners Lodge that somewhere around 13 to 18 months a  RIE baby will initiate becoming a member of our community by participating in CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT.  With Sensitive Guidance,  a RIE baby will build upon his self esteem via the contributions he feels he makes to the group.

It All Starts Here.

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