Learning Story: Responding to Our Communication

Dear Levi:

You are barely 3 months old and already you are responding to your mother’s encouragement toward learning what words and non-verbal communication movements and gestures mean.  Your mother told me a story about you, when you were responding to her conversation with you.

You were resting on your back in the supine position on your changing table.  Your mother was ready to put socks on your feet.  She looked into your eyes and said to you, “Levi, I want to put your sock on one of your feet.  Can you stretch your leg out so I can put the sock on?”  YOU FOLLOWED HER REQUEST!  You stretched out your leg for her to apply the sock to your feet and toes.  Then, when she asked, you stretched out the other leg and foot for the other sock to be put on.

This was quite a special moment for your mother.  Since you were born, she has been talking to you about what she is doing with you and for you.  She would say to you, “I am going to pick you up, now” or “I am going to wash your face.” She would even tell you when she was going to leave you in your safe place for a few minutes while she did a household chore or something personal.  She trusted that you were listening and that one day you would try to respond in some way.   This happened today when you responded to her request by participating in the putting on of your socks by stretching out your legs and feet.  You are so young still, yet, at this moment you demonstrated that you had grasped the understanding of the event and showed the desired response.

In the RIE philosophy, it is claimed that parents who talk to their children regularly, even their youngest infants, are establishing the “groundwork” for future communication.  Also, when an alert, aware adult shows a child respect by thoroughly explaining  the events of the environment and the events that directly relate to the child, respect is being shown the child and the child will reciprocate.  This reciprocal respect may be shown through cooperative actions from the child and predictions from the child about what is to come and what is expected.  In the situation discussed in this story, Levi, you showed your mother that her respectful  conversations with you gained your respect for her caregiving actions with you.  As you stretched out one leg and foot, you probably predicted that there would be a need to stretch the second leg and foot in her direction and this is just what you did.

Another principle of the RIE philosophy suggests that adults will be most successful in their parenting practices if they engage their children in what is really important to them.  As you are only beginning this life, you are already realizing that putting on clothing and taking off clothing occurs for you many times per day and is of great interest to you.  The textures of the fabric that touch your skin are many.  Some fabrics are soft and comfy.   Others are rough or scratchy.   The pulling and pushing of your body to get the clothing on and off is a regular occurrence for you.  Your mother is making these happenings so interesting and more comfortable for you when she tells you about your clothes and how she is going to move you around to put them on and take them off.  This must be why you responded to having soft, warm socks placed on your feet.  You were interested and ready for what was to happen to your legs and feet.

I know that your mother will be telling me of other events that are RIE-like moments between the two of you. I will be waiting to hear about them.

Smiles from your friend and your mother’s friend,


Print Friendly, PDF & Email