RIE in Real Life…Musings from Virtual Life!

As I mentioned in my very first Thread (yes, I joined. No, I have no idea what I’m doing, but come follow me if you would like and we can figure it out together.), I received an email this morning with the subject line that read “Yes, you CAN toilet train your toddler in 3 days…” My gut reaction to that was, but why?! Your child won’t learn to speak in 3 days, learn to roll in 3 days, learn to walk in 3 days…granted it may appear that your child can suddenly roll or take steps out of nowhere, and you may suddenly start to recognize some words…but development takes time. ALL development is a matter of trial and error, of little steps and setbacks, of leaps forward and of pauses to stick with what’s familiar and known. It’s a process. And something as life-altering as learning to use a toilet independently is going to take a lot of time to figure out. What’s the rush?

But this email isn’t about toilet independence (I’ve written about that before and I’m sure I will again). No, it’s a much looser than that this week…my Mom’s been in town and in tow for all of my classes. It’s been a gift to have her here: she has an extensive background in early education and not only enjoys watching the classes, but she sees things I miss and adds depth and breadth (and humor) to my observations. But since she’s here, my life has been busier and fuller and I haven’t had as much time to contemplate. So, while I don’t have a fully fleshed out RIE in Real Life to share, I do have a little RIE in Virtual Life I can share…a small collection of cartoons and videos that, like the email from this morning, have caught my eye and made me think. Maybe they will make you think, too:

The good news for you, you RIE parents and professionals, is that you are already looking for the latter…giving children the message of “you worked hard on that” is so different than the blanket statement of “good job.” RIE teaches us to recognize all the hard work that goes into children’s achievements and milestones, and thus we teach children to value process over product.

Many toddlers go through a hugging phase. Almost universally, this is seen as sweet and adorable…and in many instances it is! But hugging is a consensual act that takes two parties, so I always look to be sure that both children are enjoying the hug, and sportscast when I can see that one child isn’t enjoying it…as well as make sure that we don’t lose any children to boa constrictors…

I’ve been dying to share this adorable video for weeks now. Granted, it’s of dogs and not toddlers, but the principle holds…I don’t police slides. I trust that children will figure out how to get out of one another’s way when they need to, and if not, they may have fun getting bumped or knocked (gently!) down. Some kids want to go up the slide, others like to sit at the top. Some race down and around over and over, others watch. I do come close to be sure they stay safe, and I may say “Oh here comes Wally down the slide, Daisy! Wally, Daisy is down here!” And if I see children regularly getting knocked over, I’ll intervene sooner…but generally, I find that toddlers, like dogs, find their own way on slides pretty well.

I had to end on that one. Think about an interaction you may have had with your parent or grandparent. Maybe an elderly friend…someone who doesn’t move as quickly as you do or who searches for a word that is already on the tip of your tongue. You don’t rush them because you don’t want to insult or embarrass them. In other words, you bestow honor on them when you consider them worth waiting for. It’s the same with your children…you honor them by allowing them time and space.

Wishing you a meme-free weekend!


PS, Since I’m on the topic of social media, the timing could not be better for me to share this invitation to a special and important meeting coming up on July 13, 7:30 ET. Fairplay, the organization formerly known as “Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood” (back when ‘all’ we had to worry about were commercials…) is organizing to fight Big Tech where it is making its most insidious inroads: the classroom.

At this meeting on July 13, they will present their plans to fight overreach by EdTech companies and explain what’s at stake when our kids’ entire childhood is surveilled and monetized for private gain. If you have school-aged children using educational technology in the classroom and for homework (or if that is in your future), you are invited to join.

This is an opportunity for you to have direct impact where Congress, state legislatures, and administrative agencies have failed.

If you are interested in learning more, come to the July 13th Screens in Schools meeting at 7:30 ET/4:30 PT (this meeting will not be recorded):​

Meeting ID: 857 2495 2915
Passcode: 755974

And if you want to educate yourself on the impact of big tech on our children, you can read “Who’s Raising the Kids?” written by Susan Linn, the founder of Fairplay. (You can read the book review on the NYT here).

(And a BIG hat tip to the RIE parent (of a TWELVE-year-old) who shared this with me…RIE is all about Resources…it doesn’t stop when your child ages out of weekly classes!)

And one more postscript to add… Mom read this (as she proofs most of my articles) and pulled out the battered copy of my Parents’ Tao te Ching, the book I read from at the end of every class, and she pulled out the following…

42. Befriend Solitude

Learning to handle the many moods
and activities of life
requires solitude.

Do not let the demands
of an overly active world
rob your children of their peace.
Constant stimulation
without the balance of quietness
creates chaos.
The child who early befriends solitude
becomes one with all that is
and inherits everything.


First you must embrace solitude in your own life.
It is more difficult that you think.
Distractions are everywhere.
Even the mind is noisy.
Give your children time to play without agenda,
to read without purpose,
to daydream without limits,
and to discover without fear.

Allow yourself the same.