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Relationships – Relax, Relate, Communicate


Tuesday 27 September 2016

In this post I continue to explore Magda Gerber’s RIE philosophy, and I look at how relationships can influence practice. In the first post in this series, I spoke about Respect starting at birth and in the second I looked at how trust can influence practice

All humans need relationships that are secure, respectful, consistent, and trusting. The work of an early years educator, or what Gerber calls an ‘educarer’ with an emphasis on nurturing as opposed to teaching, comes with great responsibility. Babies must receive the best care. It is our role to be attuned to the needs of each baby, to know them and to be connected to them. To love them is not enough. We must be excellent at what we do and be wholeheartedly invested in our relationship with each child.

The orientation process, as babies adjust to their new environment, lays the foundation for the development of a meaningful relationship between educator and child. It is a great opportunity to build an understanding of each baby and their needs. A consistent relationship allows babies to find comfort and security, which is essential for successful and ongoing learning.

Collection of household items - Relationships - Relax, Relate, Communicate

A partnership is developed through our communication. Avoiding baby talk and speaking authentically builds respect. By acknowledging a baby’s feelings we are reassuring them that they can express their emotions. How do you feel if you are sad and someone tells you that you are fine? When a baby is dropped off and cries for their parent, they are not feeling fine. They feel sad and we should acknowledge that, ‘I know you are sad daddy has gone, it’s ok to feel sad.’ We should also acknowledge frustration, ‘I can see you want that toy, but I won’t let you (hit, bite, hurt).’


It takes time to build a trusting relationship, each baby is different, each time it is different. But when we have built the relationship, we start to see the baby express their interests, to engage more in their space and environment. At this point, as their need for regular physical comfort decreases, our ability to observe increases. We continue to stay close, they know we are near, but we can spend more time observing, doing less and seeing more. Do you consistently reflect on your orientation process? Does your process support the establishment of relationships?


Further Reading:

To read the first post in this series 'Respect - It Starts at Birth', please click here

To read the second post 'Trust - their own way, their own time', please click here

1 comments Comments

One Response

  1. Carmel Brennan says:

    I just read the linked article on the magda gerber site and it’s great. Obviously we don’t want babies to feel unsupported and abandoned but at the same time we shouldn’t be so panicked by babies crying – they need to express their emotions

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