DIY Playgroups

If you can’t find a RIE® Parent Infant Guidance™ class to suit your schedule, consider starting your own playgroup. This will provide you and like-minded families with an opportunity to practice Magda Gerber’s Educaring® Approach. You will benefit from the supportive community, and your baby will benefit from having a consistent group of peers to practice social interactions with.

Find a Location

You will need a space big enough to accommodate 5-8 children (the recommended group size) along with their parents and caregivers. The space needs to be completely safe. This prevents you from having to enforce unnecessary limits, like “Don’t climb into the fireplace,” and lets you devote all your energy to setting the limits that remain, like “I won’t let you pull his hair.” It can take some work to make a play area completely safe for infants and toddlers, but it is definitely worth it! Both you and the children will be able to relax and learn better in this free play space.

Some people can create a space like this in their homes and some find it more practical to rent a room like a yoga studio for a couple hours a week. You might also consider a toddler park, although you may have other park families changing the dynamic of the group. Make sure the park is fully gated. An unenclosed park will give you no opportunity to relax as you will constantly be chasing after mobile children.

Find Families

There are several places I can suggest for finding other families to join your group. Some of these are local to the Bay Area, but you might find something similar in your own area.

RIE in Northern California group on Facebook

Janet Lansbury’s forum (register to see the Parents Connect Locally subforum)

There are lots more local groups on and on Facebook.

Establish Your Goals

Some groups like the idea of having one person in charge of monitoring the children’s safety during conflicts, so that other parents can sit back and observe. I recommend you do this at least to some extent, to prevent 5 or 6 parents from all intervening at once, which would feel chaotic and confusing for the children. 

You will want to discuss with the other families how toys will be cleaned, what kind of rules there are about sharing, and how often you see yourselves intervening when children want help.

Further Your Learning

Just because you don’t have a trained instructor leading your group, doesn’t mean you are without resources! Many groups decide to read books together and discuss them, or to share weekly links to blog posts they found inspiring. 

Respectful Caregiving

Christina Vlinder

San Francisco Bay Area

Education for Nannies and Parents

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© 2020 by Christina Vlinder.