What Is RIE Parenting?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 15, 2023
4 min read

Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) is a parenting philosophy, organization, and early education track founded by child and infant specialist Magda Gerber. RIE and Gerber developed a parenting philosophy called “Educaring,” a method that treats a child (particularly infants) as an individual human, not an object. Ever since, RIE has become a parenting philosophy practiced by many schools, parenting classes, and nurseries.

The basic beliefs that guide RIE parenting are defined by mutual respect, trust, and connection between parent and child. RIE aims to view your child as a unique human with their own identity, preferences, and desires. The goal of RIE and Educaring is to raise a well-rounded, authentic child by adjusting how you interact with them and influence their personality.

Trust your infant’s capabilities. As your child grows, they learn to explore. RIE encourages the child to dictate what they are ready to experience. The parent simply provides the minimum amount of help the infant needs to explore their own experiences. Trusting in their capabilities encourages them to explore. They learn how to initiate their own growth. Exploring on their own motivates them to learn through their own volition.

Give them time to explore. Open playtime is important for a child to develop their skills. Rather than letting them play uninterrupted without results, speak to them about what they did. Praising any accomplishments, developed skills, and experiences will encourage them to keep learning.

A study performed at North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) examined the effects of Educaring. Parents reported that they talked with their child about their day, worked on the skills they were learning at school, and gave them room to explore what they learned three or more times a week.

Communicating with them in this way will positively reinforce the social-emotional skill they are learning through Educaring. By lending them your ear and showing that you sincerely care about their growth, you are also modeling positive behaviors for them.

Let them explore in a safe space. As a toddler becomes more confident in their actions, they need a secure space to move around in. The more comfortable they are in their environment, the easier it will be for them to learn. A safe space can be anything from their own arts and crafts table to an entire rumpus room. A space that is physically safe, consistently their space, and free of interruption will make a good space to explore their choices.

Make times of caregiving a mutual activity. Involving your infant during times of feeding, changing, or bathing will give them confidence as their own person. It also creates a time of sincere bonding between you and your infant when you can find opportunities for intimacy.

Observing and listening will open you to your child’s needs. Observing more often can give you an appreciation for your child’s accomplishments, teach you about how they are learning, and encourage an environment devoted to learning not teaching. You can find more details about the principles of RIE and Educaring in Magda Gerber’s book Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect or through parenting classes provided by RIE.

RIE and Educaring programs aim to promote a genuine sense of self. The skills developed through Educaring support healthy relationships, curiosity, and self-confidence. But what do the results of Educaring look like?

The study performed by UNC noted several unique results from the implementation of an Educaring curriculum with kids age 5 and younger in a lower-income area. The study aimed to compare the impact of early Educaring on disadvantaged demographics, but the results are universal.

Educaring greatly enhanced the children’s language skills. Compared to the control groups, the Educaring children had maintained their developmental level and eventually surpassed the control groups by the end of the year. Their significant auditory and language skills are a precursor for future literary competence.

‌Educaring improved the children’s interpersonal relationships. The more time the children spent in the Educare program, the higher ratings they received regarding their social-emotional skills. These kids showed more self-control and motivation than kids in the control groups.

The RIE Educaring approach fostered stronger relationships between the children and their teacher by creating a sensitive environment. It became apparent that the children’s social-emotional relationships affected their academic success.

‌The earlier you can start, the better. A child under the age of 5 is the most malleable in terms of Educaring. Their language skills, and consequently their social-emotional skills, are developing during their early years, making Educaring a powerful tool.