The Educaring® Approach is so often spoken about as being relevant from birth to age 2, yet
children are unique and develop at different paces. Is there a reason why this approach is most
appropriate for these ages? Are there other methods that are a good continuation of the RIE®
Philosophy after age 2? I feel like I have a good foundation of parenting through RIE® but would
love to know what to look for as my children near the “age out” point.
Valorie Cole, RIE® Associate humbly answers:
I hear this question from parents quite often. Parents, who have worked hard at incorporating
Magda Gerber’s methods into their particular family system, are now wondering “what comes
next”? Their toddlers are now being considered young preschoolers and are doing and
experiencing all sorts of new things! I believe Magda’s wisdom is certainly a methodology that
is relevant beyond two years of age (actually into adulthood).
When we look at the goals a parent has for their young baby…that they can be free to grow and
develop at their own pace, that they can participate in loving and authentic relationships with a
parent (or caregiver) who trusts their abilities and appreciates their uniqueness, that they are
free to develop their motor skills in a natural manner, then of course we want to continue this
into year three, four, five, and beyond! This continuum proceeds on the same path as before…
respect, trust, observation, reflection, kindness, and love.
Certainly the challenges will change as you enter the next periods of a child’s growth and
development process. Increased language development, burgeoning independence, growing
social learnings, toileting awareness, and physical and cognitive growth spurts are on the
horizon. A parent meets these wonders of growth in the same trusting manner they had when
their young infant was happy playing on her back. She does this by having trust in her child’s
ability to know what they need to work on; by allowing plenty of time and space for play and
exploration with open ended toys and materials; by getting out into the outdoors where her child
can experience the wonder and wisdom of nature; by connecting authentically throughout the
day in a reciprocal, power sharing, relationship; and by continuing to set clear expectations and
boundaries in a gentle matter-of-fact way.
Remember, most of all, we are the mirrors for our children (of all ages)- they learn from us
through our every word and action, our tone of voice, the words we use, the eye contact and
attention we give, and our respectful touch. They watch how we treat (and talk about) our family,
our friends, and our animals. They learn about kindness and acceptance and their own worth by
caring for our communities and world.
Remember this as your children grow. When you begin to look for preschools or enrichment
programs, look for these qualities in the adults who are in charge. Look for the relationships you
want for your children, both with adults and with other children. Look for beautiful environments
that support freedom of movement and natural learning and development. Visit many centers
and hang out awhile, see how it fits your beliefs! All children are different and have unique
needs. Parents, too, have needs and when it comes to choosing child care, will want to find a
welcoming community for the whole family.
Most of all, relax and enjoy it all…these days go by quickly and taking time to appreciate
special moments together nurtures everyone in the family. Slow down. Smile. Connect.
About our Associate:
Valorie Cole is a RIE® Associate in Santa Barbara, California. She has studied Magda Gerber’s work for 40 years. Now retired from her daily work as an Early Childhood Professional, she is currently a mentor for RIE® Practicum students.