As from September I will be over in the Warren implementing the RIE approach (Resources for Infant Educarers) from the course Madi and I attended back in July. If you haven’t seen me around in the Nest this week, I've been busy next door with all the older children.
We’ve been having lots of meetings across the Hive, discussing what specific RIE approaches we are going to implement. We also took part in a group meeting with the whole of the Free Rangers staff to discuss what we could take from the RIE approach and what we could implement across all of the rooms.
Madga Gerber’s RIE philosophy is all about how we respect and trust a baby to be an initiator, an explorer and a self-learner. Madga encourages the caregivers to provide an environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing.
In our training a ‘safe environment’ was classed as a room/house that if you were locked out of and your child was locked in, for four hours they would be safe, when you were able to see that child after four hours, they would either need a nappy change, a drink or food. Therefore they would be safe the whole time. (Obviously whilst in a nursery setting the child is never left unattended, so therefore this wouldn’t apply to us, but hopefully this acts as a way to illustrate the independent learning environment RIE believes is important for children's holistic development.)
The key area of the RIE approach is respect. This is then followed up by the 3 R’s – Reflect, Respect and Respond. This then leads on to how we talk to children, and do we let them have a voice? By letting them have a voice we need to wait, and maybe even wait a bit longer. Babies may not respond using their voices, but may respond using different gestures, e.g. lifting their arms up to you, turning their heads, eye contact or speaking to you.
We’ve been taking part in a rolling snack! Both rooms are doing this at the same time, so that this becomes part of the babies' daily routine, we also have snack in the same place every day so that this becomes predictable. All babies have seemed to really enjoy having the independence to choose when they want snack. Our rolling snack takes part for half an hour and in that time all the babies will come and sit and eat snack.
Uninterrupted play is also part of the RIE approach, this is time where the babies have time to explore without being uninterrupted by their caregivers. The caregivers should be sat back and observing the babies, whilst being available when the babies need them. The Hive team have decided this will happen for 2 hours a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
We then take part in Adult led play, this involves creative and sensory play in which the caregiver is most likely going to have to interrupt. We also have an obligation to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage and it is sometimes through set activities that we are able to achieve these objectives.
As you’re all aware, to enter the Hive you need to go up the steps. In our RIE training we were encouraged to allow the children to be independent and explore the steps on their own. During August we trialled this and we were able to adapt ourselves and the babies into using the steps on their own. The steps aren't left unattended but a member of staff works with a child to explore and encourage a suitable way of negotiating the steps. This does mean there's an increased chance of bumps and bruises but the benefit analysis of allowing the children to access this perceived risk is very beneficial to their development; both physical and from a confidence point of view.
It was also really interesting to receive feedback from The Burrow, telling us that the children arriving with them could walk up and down the stairs unaided and far more confidently than previously when the babies didn't have the steps to walk up and down.
Thanks for reading!