Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An Introduction to RIE

RIE, Resources for Infant Educarers, was founded in 1978 with a mission to support parents, educators and children in improving the quality of infant care. Tom Forrest, a pediatric neuroscientist, and Magda Gerber, and immigrant from Hungry, were the founders of RIE. When Gerber immigrated to the United States in the 1950s she brought along her work and observations from Loczy Institute. At Loczy she worked with Emmi Pikler. Pikler discovered while working at orphanages that infants thrive when they are allowed to discover for themselves and are treated as competent beings deserving of respect. Gerber translated these significant observations into a format that was accessible to parents at her center in Los Angeles, California. Gerber helped parents see their children in a new light and her guidance encouraged adults who care for children, whether a parent or other caregiver, to “observe more, do less; enjoy most.”

RIE is dedicated to the creation of meaningful members of our society though respect, intentional communication, close relationships and slowing down to notice every nuance of who each child is and what their needs might be. Building a secure relationship with both the caregiver and the environment is an essential part of RIE’s work. 

We’ve referred to and discussed RIE in many of our posts from the infant house but we’d like to spend this post really defining what RIE is and what it looks like here at Tumbleweeds. We use RIE as a guideline for building positive relationships with children by putting an emphasis on caregiving rituals, all the way through preschool. Caring for the child as their authentic self, and supporting their awareness of peers, the adults they interact with, their environment and nature is our prime goal, while seeing the child as an initiator in their learning and success. 

Magda Gerber, in her work has created 7 RIE Principles which we at TIH use as inspiration in all of our interactions with children. 

Basic trust in the child to be an initiator, an explorer and a self-learner.
      2.    An environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing.
      3.    Time for uninterrupted play.
      4.    Freedom to explore and interact with other infants.
      5.    Involvement of the child in all care activities to allow the child to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient.
      6.    Sensitive observation of the child in order to understand his or her needs.
      7.    Consistency, clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline.

In the next few posts from the infant house, we plan to collaborate on showing you more about each of these principles and how they foster a society who shares the following traits: enduring curiosity, lasting self-confidence, secure relationships, focused and self-initiated learners, resourcefulness, and cooperative and involved citizens. For now we leave you with this quote from Magda Gerber:

"We should educate while we care and care while we educate." 


  1. I have noticed that my students play more and more each day, as they invent their ways, but, at home, my granddaughters, interrupt their play constantly. Especially the 10 months one. How can we help her play longer periods? The longest she is busy on anything is around five minutes.
    Laura Oreamuno
    San Jose, Costa Rica.
    Central America.

    1. We love Janet's post on that topic:!!!

  2. i look forward to your upcoming posts about rie. it was so helpful for me in raising my two children and continues to be. a while back after five years as a rie mom, i came up with my own list of what i thought were the main tenets of RIE. here it is for those who may be interested:

    thank u,
    jennifer lehr

    1. Thanks for the link! We over at TIH are constantly finding jewels from your website and I'm surprised I missed this post. Very inspirational!

    2. And Thanks for the comment--we LOVE your work!