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RIE® Foundations™
Theory & Observation Course

Close up of happy Black mother holding her baby.

This comprehensive professional development course is designed to enhance the skills and competencies of parents and professionals who work in the field of infant care, teach in a college environment, work with parents, or train students in early care and development. You will have opportunities to share your individual goals so that the course can help you in your profession or family life.

In this course, you will learn to implement Magda Gerber’s Educaring® Approach through lectures, journal reflections, videos, discussions, observations, and readings.

This RIE certified course course provides an overview of the following topics:

  • nurturing caregiving as the basis for a secure attachment relationship

  • the art of observation

  • natural gross motor development

  • fine motor development that is driven by the innate urge to play

  • appropriate “curriculum” for infants and toddlers 

  • designing the environment for optimum learning

  • social-emotional development

  • discipline that is respectful and empathetic, yet firm and effective

  • supervising and fostering interactions between children

  • parents’ and infants’ needs, expectations, and learning process

RIE® certified course logo.

Each instructor brings additional topics to the course content based on their own areas of interest, experience, and knowledge, and each course is unique depending on the needs and interests that emerge for the particular group of students present.

Whether you are with infants for brief appointments or provide full-time care, this course will deepen your understanding of infant development and help you be of service to babies and their families.

Jump to:

Who Takes Foundations?

This course will benefit anyone who wants a serious overview of how to implement respectful care of infants and toddlers in their lives or profession. In your class, you are likely to meet fellow students who are: 

  • Parents

  • Child care staff & administrators

  • Nannies

  • Social workers

  • Early interventionists

  • Doulas

  • Infant mental health professionals

  • Infant massage educators

  • Pediatricians

  • Midwives

  • University professors

  • Newborn care specialists

  • Parenting coaches

  • Infant sleep specialists

  • and more!

Maternity nurse wearing scrubs holding newborn baby wrapped in blanket.
What is class like?

What is class like?

This course is a mixed format that includes independent study, observations in the field, recorded lectures, online discussion, and interactive Zoom sessions.

Zoom Classes:

We will be using Zoom for our live (synchronous) class hours. In order to receive a certificate of completion, you will need to give the course your full attention and to have your video on to demonstrate that engagement. You should expect the Zoom sessions to be interactive and full of discussion, brief lectures, videos, questions, and group activities.

Zoom Classes
Office setting with Christina Vlinder's online Zoom class on the computer monitor.
Student with their dog in an office setting watching Christina Vlinder's online Zoom class on their computer.
A Group Learning Experience

You will learn in a cohort of your peers, with time spent in large and small group discussion. Small groups are consistent throughout the course to allow you to get to know each other well. This course is intentionally kept small at 10 to 14 participants, so you will have ample opportunity to come to know your fellow students as you learn together throughout the course. 

A group of people who work together at a childcare centre.
Independent Work
Independent Study

This course is a similar level of time commitment as a college child development course. You can expect to spend around 4-6 hours on the course each week:

  • 2-3 hours in a live Zoom class, doing group activities and participating in discussion

  • 1-2 hours watching pre-recorded lectures and other videos independently 

  • 1-3 hours on reading, journaling, and other assignments

Each week you will have one or two short assignments. Here are some examples:

  • Practice techniques for respectful care with a child or adult in your life

  • Read from assigned textbooks

  • Practice vocabulary and strategies for setting limits

  • Write in your reflection journal

  • Prepare a short presentation of a concept covered in the course

  • Conduct and write up your Field Observations


Field Observations

Additionally, you will receive support to schedule in-person observations of infants and toddlers in home settings, parent-infant classes, and childcare centers in your area. This gives you an opportunity to practice your observation skills and reflect on putting the principles into practice. There are four field observations in this course:

  • a Gross Motor Observation 

  • a Fine Motor Observation

  • a RIE Parent-Infant Guidance Class Observation

  • a Group Care Observation

You are encouraged to observe in person when it is possible. We also have videos available if you are not able to observe in person.

Written Evaluations

At the midpoint and end of the course, you will answer short essay questions that share the meaningful things you have learned. You will receive detailed feedback and recommendations for deepening your learning.

Field Observations
You Will Need

There are a few required textbooks and other materials that you will need to participate in the course:


Check out the FAQ below.

The cover of Magda Gerber's book, "Dear Parent: Caring for Infants With Respect."

Tuition & What's Included

Your registration for this course includes:​

  • live group activities and discussion via Zoom

  • pre-recorded lecture and video to be watched independently

  • weekly directed assignments

  • guidelines and support for scheduling real-life observations of infants in childcare centers and/or Parent-Infant classes

  • access to instructor office hours for one-on-one help

  • a digital copy of the RIE® Foundations™ student curriculum guide

  • access to a private Facebook group for graduates of the course

  • upon completion of all course content, a certificate of completion

  • upon completion of the course, one free month of membership at Respectful Caregiving


Foundations Students Say...

"This course is truly transformative and I would highly recommend it to both parent and non-parent caregivers. It is packed with useful evidence-based information and Christina does a wonderful job at delivering it thoroughly while capturing the essence of the Educaring approach. The online sessions were the highlight of my week and allowed for meaningful conversations with the instructor and the other students."

Tuition: $1,395 USD

  • Early Bird Pricing - use coupon code EARLYBIRD for 10% off if you register at least one month prior to course start date.

  • Limited needs-based financial assistance is available.

  • Nonrefundable installments available upon request.

Your instructor

About Your Instructors:

Christina Vlinder

I have been working with infants, toddlers, and older children in child care and private homes since 1999. I began my career with some ideas about what I didn't want to do, but no concrete plan for what I did want to do. I worked with many families and slowly began to figure out what felt right. Once I began studying child development in a more rigorous way, I was able to relate those gut feelings to the huge body of scientific knowledge we now have about what children need and what helps them thrive. 

I discovered that the approach that most accurately satisfies both my gut and the research about infants and toddlers is the Educaring Approach (also known as RIE for Resources for Infant Educarers), created by infant specialist Magda Gerber. I began studying with RIE in 2010 and became a RIE Associate in 2017.

Professional headshot of Christina Vlinder.

Since then, I have taught RIE Parent-Infant Guidance™ Classes, RIE Before Baby™, RIE Nurturing Nanny™ and RIE Foundations. I have served as a guest speaker at conferences and podcasts, hosted local events, and led workshops for large groups of learners. I look forward to sharing what I know with you and to hearing your thoughtful questions and feedback.

As this is a certified RIE course, I participate in a peer mentoring program. You can expect one or two other RIE Associates or Pathways students to be either observing or actively participating in instruction during the course. 

Melissa Coyné

My interest in being with children began around 11 when I started babysitting. I was always fascinated by development and moved by children’s interactions with me. Whether it was a brief encounter or my niece or nephew, it was clear to me that children were my people. My elementary school teachers had a profound impact on me as I dreamt of being them one day


I realized early on that it was early childhood that compelled me most. While I obtained my BA and MA in child development, I worked with infants and toddlers in group care and my passion for this age was anchored. I was first introduced to RIE in a program where I spent 22 years growing my personal education philosophy and it became increasingly important to me to stay true to the integrity of my convictions of treating each human with respect. 

My desire to share my intentional practice of caring for children and mentoring adults is a cornerstone of the courses I facilitate and my consulting work. I am also a RIE Mentor for interns who are working towards becoming RIE Associates and a parent to two grown children who taught me more than any course or book could!


Respectful Caregiving courses welcome all families and caregiving professionals.

In order to participate in this course, you will be asked to agree to a code of conduct.

Upcoming Courses

Fall 2024
Maternity nurse wearing scrubs holding newborn baby wrapped in blanket.jpg

Instructor: Melissa Coyné

Twelve Zoom sessions on Tuesdays 5:00pm - 8:00pm Pacific Time

September 3, 10, 17, 24

October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

November 5, 12, 19

Spots open. Registration opens soon. Waitlisted participants get 2 weeks of priority registration.

Register by August 6th with the code EARLYMEL to receive 10% off on tuition.

Looking for a possibility not listed here? If you have a group of 10-14 people who would like to take the course, you can use the contact form to request a private course. 

  • Can you help me find a RIE® nanny?
    We can try! Since Respectful Caregiving trains nannies, we do sometimes hear from nannies that are looking for work. Please fill out this form and we will let you know if an easy match comes to mind. We will also forward your information to our partner nanny agencies, who are familiar with helping families find nannies that use this approach. If you do not want to use an agency and are local to the SF Bay Area, you may want to try posting in the Berkeley Parents Network or in the Facebook group RIE in Northern California. Most nannies with RIE training charge $35-$50/hour and are looking for full time work. If this is outside your budget, the best approach is to find a nanny you love without RIE training who is interested in learning and send them to the RIE® Nurturing Nanny course.
  • Can you help me find a job as a nanny?
    It's worth trying! We get many, many requests from families looking for nannies, and relatively few requests for nannies looking for work, so the odds are good. If you have not yet taken RIE® Nurturing Nanny™ or RIE Foundations™, this is a good first step. Families who are interested in this approach look for these qualifications when hiring. The next step is to fill out this form, and we will let you know if an easy match comes to mind. We will also forward your information to our partner nanny agencies, who are familiar with helping nannies find jobs with families that use this approach.
  • Will you be my nanny?
    While both Melissa and Christina do nanny work, our schedule is currently full. If that ever changes, we will offer our availability to the Respectful Caregiving mailing list, which you can subscribe to at the bottom of the page.
  • Can you train my nanny or childcare provider in RIE®?
    Yes! We can teach any nanny that is actively curious about the approach. You can sign your nanny up for RIE® Nurturing Nanny™, a course designed to introduce nannies and childcare providers to the Educaring® Approach (RIE). You can go ahead and register your nanny for the next course. If your nanny would like more advanced training, the next step would be the RIE Foundations™ course. We can also help train and support your nanny via individual sessions. Check consulting availability and book a session. More tips on training your nanny here!
  • Can you consult with me, either in person or over the phone?
    Yes, we would love to! You can book a session online here.
  • Can you help me find a playgroup or RIE® Parent Infant Guidance™ class?
    The best place to look is on If you are local to the SF Bay Area and surrounding counties, you can also join the Facebook group, RIE in Northern California, and find a playgroup or other families to spend time with. If you live in a different area, try searching for a local Facebook group and posting there.
  • Can you appear on our podcast, write an article for our newsletter, or teach at a conference I am organizing?
    Yes! We would love to speak to your audience on a variety of infant and toddler topics, and both Melissa and Christina are experienced with educating groups of 5 to 100+ people. From webinars to podcasts to conferences, there are many possibilities. Pricing varies depending on the type of presentation, length, and your audience. We are happy to find solutions that scale appropriately to the size of your audience. Use the Other Inquiries form at the bottom of the page to arrange the details. We also welcome the opportunity to write for your online or print audience. You may reuse the articles already on this website with permission, or you can use the contact form below to request something different.

Other Offerings

RIE® Nurturing Nanny™
Portrait of happy black mother holding c

The RIE Nurturing Nanny course is for in-home caregivers and offers knowledge and practical suggestions that can help make this work easier and more enjoyable, resulting in advantages for the infants and young children who receive professional care.

Attachment Theory
For Nannies
Love of a mother and baby. Family in the

Attachment Theory is the primary theory for how infants and toddlers develop during the first three years of life. In this self-paced online course, you will have an opportunity to learn how babies form their first relationships and how the quality of these relationships has a profound impact on the rest of their life.

Career Skills for Nannies

Are you looking to improve your skills at the business aspects of being a nanny? Learn how to build a successful career in this self-paced online courses.

Scholarship Fund

Every session, there are many students who would like to learn about better ways of caring for infants and toddlers but who can't afford the cost of the course.


Respectful Caregiving scholarships come from two places: donations and our Amazon affiliate program. The affiliate program sends a small portion of each sale you make after clicking on one of our Amazon links to the scholarship fund. So, thank you for using links from this site! 

You can also make a difference by donating. 100% of your donation goes to scholarships. Thank you for helping others to improve the lives of infants and toddlers!

A mother holding her newborn baby.
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