|Adj.||1.||RIEalized – restored to new life, vigor and understanding of Magda Gerber’s RIE Approach;
I first heard the term “RIEatized” from an infant specialist at Little Learners Lodge. Already a very competent and experienced infant caregiver self-educated in the RIE Approach, we sponsored her RIE training in Theory and Observation more as a formality. Yet when she returned from the training experience, she radiated with enthusiasm voicing a deeper understanding and appreciation of Magda Gerber’s work- “I’ve been RIEatized!” she exclaimed happily.
After attending the 23rd Annual RIE Infant/Toddler Conference for Parents and Professionals last weekend, I have a better understanding of what she means.
The presenters at each break-out session I attended conveyed a deep regard of Magda Gerber’s contributions to our understanding of infants as well as the inclusiveness of the RIE Approach. Parents, psychologists, early childhood practitioners from across the nation and overseas- be it traditional, Montessori or progressive- were connected by our appreciation of infants and toddlers. With almost 400 in attendance, I lit up with the feeling of belonging and understanding while surrounded by likeminded individuals. It was nice to be in a place where we could freely discuss the intricacies of supporting healthy human development from a societal framework.
Keynote speaker and renowned researcher, Allison Gopnik, PhD, author of The Scientist in the Crib and The Philosophical Baby and Magda’s son, Bence Gerber lent further fuel to the excitement.
Dr. Gopnik’s research recognizes, “Baby’s are a separate developmental stage in human development- as evidence by their brains…. a baby’s brain is better than an adult’s in its design to learn.” Yet this capacity, Gopnik further explained, comes at a high price. A baby requires the care of an adult- actually a TEAM of adults working cooperatively- for his survival. How the team cares for that child especially over the course of her first five or six years, will greatly influence the child’s ability to contribute to our social fabric when she reaches adulthood. Our brains are physically wired to assist us in our roles as we reach them- first as an infant and eventually as an elder.
We are best able to assume our adapting roles if we are adequately supported at infancy.
During her time with us, Dr. Gopnik focused her discussion on two crucial areas to assist the child the first six years of life- attachment and play. As a RIE Certified Center, we can attest to the particular attention the approach gives to both fostering secure attachment and to respecting the value of a child’s self-initiated and uninterrupted play. If you have a few moments, you’ll find components of Gopnik’s keynote via TED:
As important as it is in “getting it right” with infants, the infrastructure we currently have in place in providing parents and early childhood professionals with the resources they may need to care for babies seems lacking- adversely affecting our security early on. For example, infant teachers remain under-valued as a profession with a high degree of burn-out and turnover. And many policy makers lack the experience of being childcare providers- while they value the importance of infant care, really don’t know how to give it.
As a result, early childhood professionals- (don’t forget unlike many elementary teachers, these guys are working year ’round)- lack the time, energy and resources to advocate on a political platform that which we know to be best practices in implementation. In addition, those not in the field are becoming more exposed to research validating our work and- with the best of intentions- feel driven to institute practices to “teach” the child, negatively impacting his innate drive to learn.
I felt the need for a little re-RIEatization. Thanks to all the RIE (volunteer) Board members and Dr. Allison Gopnik. Let’s get this party started: Advocating for the Importance of PLAY