The Main Ingredient in a RIE Space

Sending care and respect to my families who observe Yom Kippur this weekend.

And sending a ‘Happy Fall!’ to everyone. The Equinox falls tonight (sorry), so we’ll go to bed in the Summer and wake up in the Fall. But I tend to think of the equinox kind of like motor milestones…there’s a date on the calendar when it officially ‘happens,’ but the sun has been shifting day after day after day…all the work of this transition is being done slowly and subtly until suddenly you realize it’s a new season. That’s one of the things I love about a RIE class…I don’t see the small changes that you see in your child day in and day out, but when I see your children from week to week, you and I both get the opportunity to study the tremendous growth that has happened.

But back to our Fall…It certainly (and surprisingly) is feeling very Fall-like this week in Southern California, but instead of turning leaves, we’re still seeing flowers and trees blooming (check out the pictures in the header…those are all around my home!). It’s quite beautiful.

I’ve been thinking about beauty and spaces a lot this week…watching a group of newly mobile infants crawl around my playroom, inside and yes (you can! I see you checking…go for it!) out onto the deck, I was struck by how very observant children are of what’s around them. I watched several children, independently, crawl up and examine a warning sticker on my gate…they were drawn to this thing that I completely overlook. I didn’t even see it until I noticed the children examining it. (Do YOU see it?)

This is one of the reasons that I have intentionally kept the walls in my playspace bare*. While I may add some simple artwork at some point, for now, I love that by keeping the space fairly minimal, children can focus on the toys, the space, and one another.

I’ve taught in soo many places over the years…the original RIE house in Silverlake (just as a student!), the newer (then) RIE Center in Hollywood, the back of a retail shop, an empty yoga studio in a churchlike building, a living room I had to empty and rearrange before and after each class, a garage, a backyard, a front yard, a playroom or two, and of course so many, many, many parks… some were perfect, some were very challenging, but they all informed me as I grew into the teacher I am today.

One of my favorite things to do as a RIE teacher is to curate a space: to set up equipment and arrange toys in a way that draws you in. And as I outline pretty thoroughly in this short post from 2021 (back when I didn’t even know my current space existed and was still only dreaming of the day I could have my own space!!), there are several elements to creating a RIE space, but really what it all comes down to is creating a space for observation.

A RIE space is one where children can tune into themselves and their play, into other children (as they are ready), and a place they can count on their parents or caregivers being ready to tune into them. But that’s only one half of the dynamic. The other half of it is creating an environment that adults can tune into their children, watching them without having to guide, instruct, redirect…creating an atmosphere where they can tune into their own selves, examining impulses and ideas that pop up as they watch their children? A RIE space is one that safe and secure for children and adults alike to explore.

Wishing you all a joyful weekend,


*So bare that when the space isn’t set for class, when all of the toys and equipment are away and the mats rolled up and stored, it looks a little empty. Right after the hurricane, we had a slightly drooping wire in the backyard so we were advised to call the fire department to assess it. They arrived quickly and even more quickly determined the wire was a telephone line and not a threat…but then they looked around the room and politely asked how long we’d been there. 10 months, I replied, guilelessly, not realizing until after they left how strange our house must look when it isn’t set up for class!