When one observes closely a baby being diapered the RIE way the idea that interchange could support early literacy takes root. Did RIE Founder Magda Gerber see this correlation between reading readiness and diapering?
Taking a look at Magda’s segment on the topic in her book Your Self Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child’s Natural Abilities- from the very start one gets a feel for her ideals in regards to importance of diapering. She often reminded us that a baby gets a diaper change six or seven THOUSAND times from birth until she learns to use the toilet on her own. We might as well make the most of this learning opportunity.
Toileting, like reading, requires the active participation of the child- the key being cooperation. Interestingly, if you replace the idea of diapering with that of reading when Magda describes the RIE Approach to Cooperation in Diapering on pages 69-70 in Your Self Confident Baby you come up with:
Cooperation in reading is especially helpful because children go through periods where they don’t like reading and they resist it.
It can be frustrating trying to teach a child to read.
Let’s take a look at a child being diapered the RIE way – what do you see?
I asked our Montessori and Orton-Gillingham certified Primary Director to identify some skills sets which helped her facilitate the reading program for our preschool and Kindergarten aged children. Her list includes: understanding of relationships (what goes together), motivation, focused attention span, visual ability and tracking, persistence, patience, delayed gratification, and normally developed spoken language skills.
These same skills sets can be involved when diapering the RIE way- attributes essential for early literacy. We think so.