The basis of the RIE approach:
Respect

17 January, 2021

Written by Angela Bush

Bachelor of Education (ECE), Diploma of Nursing, Diploma of Teaching (ECE)
If you haven’t guessed it already, respectful practice in ECE and RIE philosophy is my jam!

Being respectful of infants and toddlers is a concept brought to the world firstly by Dr Emmi Pikler, and then further by her friend and colleague Magda Gerber. In 2021 it is hard to believe that being respectful of children had not previously been part of the rhetoric in early childhood education prior to 1998. But with damning statistics worldwide of child abuse and neglect, this is a concept that is imperative all adults get their head around. We may love children, but we don’t always respect them.


Respect is the very foundation upon which the RIE philosophy is built. If you are not familiar with this philosophy please check out https://www.rie.org/
Magda Gerber strongly advocated that when we respect a child, we treat them as a human being, not as an object. Although this may sound like an obvious distinction, it actually requires some careful consideration to truly grasp the difference here. The following diagram gives us a comparison of how we might treat an object vs a respected human child…


When we behave in ways that are respectful of children, we show them through our actions that they are worthy people. Even for the tiniest babies, if they are shown respect from the very beginning, this child will be able to unfold with a sense of personal value and authenticity.

The First Goal Of The RIE Philosophy Is “An Authentic Child.”

"An authentic child is one who feels secure, autonomous, and competent. When we help a child to feel secure, feel appreciated, feel that “somebody is deeply, truly interested in me,” by the way we just look, the way we just listen, we influence that child’s whole personality, the way that child sees life."
(Magda Gerber 1998)

For those of us entrusted with the most important role of educarer for our infants and toddlers, the starting point of our care must be RESPECT. I could not say it any more beautifully than Magda herself;

“I just hope that the RIE principles will slowly become part of your awareness, your thinking and your actions, and that eventually, when they truly become part of you, they will serve as your own inner guidelines.”
(Magda Gerber 1998)

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