Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

A Caring Presence


Wednesday 31 July 2019

Throughout my career, I have worked with babies. I fully understand the challenging nature of meeting the diverse and individual needs of babies. It is not an easy job. It is physically and mentally demanding. Too often, we do not discuss the complexities of the role. Every day wasn't perfect; we can't strive for perfection as educators. We must accept that the closest thing to perfection is in the moment – being present. We must strive to meet the rights of infants and their families through respectful interactions, partnerships, and reflective practice. The RTE Investigates programme that aired last week was very difficult to watch. I felt many emotions; anger, pain, frustration, sadness, among others with many thoughts churning in my mind since. We must reflect and talk, we must ask difficult questions, and, where needed, we must make immediate changes.

A quality educator and child relationship '…is one based on mutual trust and respect for each individual. It is demonstrated by caring and interacting with the child in a way that communicates, "I want to know and understand who you are, and I'm prepared to help you understand and know who I am.' - Polly Elam

In quality early learning and care environments, the role of the educator is to provide a secure and predictable environment. The relationship between child and adult is one of mutual connectedness, and it is about respect and quality experiences. Research shows us that interactions between a child and caregiver dramatically impacts on the development of the brain – and is intrinsically linked to physical, emotional, and mental health. Therefore, the role of the educator is one of enormous responsibility. We need to build secure attachments with sincerity and openness to the diverse needs of each child in our care. When we are tuned in to children, when we connect with their thoughts, needs, and feelings, we facilitate a strong sense of trust and security. It requires positive interactions, during play, caregiving moments, and daily exchanges.

Is it always possible to understand what babies need or want? No, of course not. Do you always know what you want? But we can be perceptive; we can observe and assess what is going on in that moment for that infant. We can reflect - what might have happened previously to impact on the present. What is happening in the environment, what do we know about this child, then we can respond. We can work enthusiastically to communicate healthy messages to children. Through our interactions, we tell them; we hear you; we value you, I respect you, I love you.

How do we see babies? Do we see them as whole human beings? Do we trust them? Because how we see babies impacts on how we communicate and interact with them, we must approach our role with thoughtfulness and an active attitude.


What do infants need in learning and care environments?

Babies need to be respected. This delicate stage of childhood needs full recognition as a vulnerable and critical stage. All babies need to be secure, safe, nurtured, held, and loved.


How does this work on a day-to-day basis?

It works through a sensitivity to the unique and shared needs of children and adults. It involves allowing a level of flexibility throughout the day, that is led by the needs of the child. When we develop a routine based on the individual needs of children, we create an approach that happens naturally. When we meet children's individual needs, the shared group becomes synchronised. We listen and help children to listen to their bodies and what their bodies need.


What do children need?

The Child -

We recognise the child as competent and confident; daily caregiving routines are individual. Children are free and exploring within a safe yet challenging environment. The routine is predictable and consistent; we don't give children constant attention; it is needs-based –nurturing, loving, and kind. Children are free to explore within a circle of security and return to a safe person.


What do you need?

The Educator -

You get to be supported and have a leader that helps you to thrive in your role.  You are valued; you must be given the environment and resources to support the learning and care of children each day. You are warm and responsive, engaging in meaningful preparation and observation. You must be comfortable in slowing down; attentive and explain to children what is happening. You facilitate uninterrupted play where children can explore, learn, and develop; this is with secure and respectful relationships. You have time to nourish your body, mind, and spirit. You have strong values that help children flourish, and you will not compromise on your values. You know you have rights, and you safeguard the rights of children in your care.

We must continue to work together to be the best representation of our profession, for children, for families and ourselves. The responsibility falls on all of us who understand that providing excellent quality learning and care is a necessity for young children. Anything less is just not good enough.


Milica Atanackovic is a Research & Professional Learning Manager with Early Childhood Ireland. Her background in the sector of Early Years is rooted within a passionate interest in Creative Arts and Child Participation. Milica originally studied Design Communication before moving into Early Childhood Care and Education in Australia. Considering training and mentoring as a key element of quality in the Early Learning & Care, Milica has worked as an educator, service manager and trainer. She also combines experience from a range of creative disciplines to her work.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

TRAP(1) Small World Play(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Italy(1) Traffic Lights(1) TOY Programme(1) Summer(1) Exit interview(1) Participation(2) Budget 2018(1) Music(3) Academics(1) budget(1) Painting(1) Eritrea(1) Mark Twain(1) Giraffe(2) Mo Scéal(1) refugees(1) Independence(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Playdough(1) creche(1) role playing(1) multi-generational community(1) linc(1) Mount Everest(1) Return to Work Training(1) social media(2) NCCA(3) Graduation(1) Self-regulation(1) Meet the Members(1) Iraq(1) Vietnam(1) Care routines(1) family time(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Large Doll Play(1) IGL(1) youdoodle(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) Adoption(1) Behaviour(3) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Time(1) Early Learning and Care(1) community(5) Siolta blog(8) Annual Conference 2017(2) education system(1) Maynooth University(2) dublin(2) emotional environment(2) Investment(2) play(35) First 5 strategy(1) Pedagogy(2) Consent(1) feisty(1) Challenges(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Loss(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Kids Own(1) Inspiring Practice(1) curriculum(5) iOS(1) Aistear(130) mental health problems(1) Looking Back(1) annual awards(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Margy Whalley(1) Policy(2) communication(4) Prexit(1) Social Skills(1) pets(1) Irish guidelines(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Child Care(1) reopening(1) early life(1) transitions(10) Proceedings Journal(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) The Jelly King(1) scéalta(56) lockdown(1) Reggio Children Network(1) GoToMeeting app(1) learning(19) Family(1) Early Years(1) Patterns(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Lego(2) man up(1) EECERA(1) Sleep(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Document Learning(1) Budget 2020(1) Frustrations(1) Wendy Lee(3) Twitter(1) Environment(2) Liz Kerrins(1) Maths Week(1) Scents(1) art of the relationship(1) staying connected(1) Shoes(1) Touch(1) Health(2) Nonverbal(1) Routines(2) ECEC Setting(2) early years research(2) emotional well-being(1) reading(5) Self-Esteem(1) education(2) Care-giving routines(1) quarantine(1) memories(1) HR(1) Engineers Week(2) CIT(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Kilkenny(1) Role play(1) Performance Management(1) E.coli(1) Inclusion(3) risk(2) Mud kitchens(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Gardening(1) christmas(9) Empathy(1) Childhood(1) Confidence(1) apps for children(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Mathematicians(1) books(4) Funding(1) Storytelling(7) movement behaviours(1) outdoor play(6) SAC(1) Vertical grouping(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Performing(1) Design(1) Covid response(2) purpose(1) Jenga(1) Primary School(3) Children and families(1) Fabric(1) worries(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Creative(1) Communicating(1) Games(1) Maternity Leave(1) Opportunities(1) Traditions(2) child-centred approach(1) Maths(6) conversations(1) Covid19 crisis(1) College(1) Identity(5) food(1) Buddies(1) Arithmetic(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Flowers(1) Reggio Emilia(2) interacting(2) Change(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Communications(1) Visual Impairment(1) Engineering(3) National Awards 2018(2) ears(1) Cognitive development(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Digital(1) Infection Control(1) story time(2) Montessori(3) Technology(3) social media policy(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Rituals(1) ECEC(3) Weather(1) Awards Night(1) Magic(1) Building Resilience(1) Sociodramatic play(1) june29(1) learners(1) experience(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Afghanistan(1) Through the looking glass(1) early years settings(1) inspiring interactions(1) Pobal(1) Photographs(1) development(8) United Nations(1) UNCRC(2) Capable(1) Reflective Practice(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Maria Montessori(1) Employee(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Masterclass(2) Teamwork(1) Exploring(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Frosty the Snowman(1) CPD(1) Blocks(1) European Project(1) educarer(1) structure(1) Leprechauns(1) routine(2) Awards(2) Snacks(1) Upcycling(1) Belonging(3) Time Out(1) EM Standing(1) Inter-generational(2) Learning Journal(2) Community involvement(1) Trick or treat(1) Wilenski(1) Glitter(2) early years learning(1) listen(1) Early Childhood Education(1) meals(3) Grief(1) Interests(1) Magnavacchi(1) responsive relationships(1) children development(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) keep in touch(1) ECIAwards20(1) early childhood educator(2) Awards 2019(1) mushrooms(1) DCYA(6) Positivity(1) Running(1) Support(1) Competent(1) World Health Organisation(1) respect(5) New Appointments(1) Treasure(1) childcare services(1) Art(6) Titles(1) conference(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) imotion(1) Window(1) Exploratory Play(1) Buddy Bench(1) Mixed age groups(3) gender bias(1) Malaguzzi(1) Workplace Relations(3) Research and Professional Learning(1) Mantra(1) under 3's(3) Emergent Curriculum(1) ECCE(7) behavioural science(1) Seanchaí(1) reopening ireland(1) Well-Being(10) Elders(1) Santa(2) collaboration(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) an post(1) value(1) Wrapping paper(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Workforce(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Socioemotional development(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Snack Time(1) Names(1) Japan(1) Learning Story(1) planning(1) Early Years Education(1) Syria(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Celebrate(1) Nutrition(1) Graduate(1) Learning Stories(9) Obesity(1) Trigonometry(1) Appreciation(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) International Narratives(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) play therapy(1) Cork(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Síolta(137) Self Help Skills(1) Exercise(1) Limerick(1) Story(2) Brain(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Relaxation(1) Stress(2) Love(3) Book Review(1) preschool settings(1) STEM(3) Gratitude(1) ICBN(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Celebrations(4) Growing up in Ireland(3) Special Needs Assistants(1) Sequins(1) Inspections(1) Oireachtas(1) Early Years Educators(3) research submissions(1) Training(2) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) learning hub(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) ERASMUS+(3) Kerry(1) MA(1) Family wall(1) Digital Devices(1) COVID-19(14) EECERA 2016(1) Playschool(1) healthy eating policies(1) Reggio(1) Sessional service(1) Plants(1) show and tell(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Event Guide(1) Seas Suas(1) keezy(1) Valentine's Day(3) Tuscan Approach(2) relationships(18) dining(1) Learning through Storytelling(1) Smiles(1) Budget 2019(2) Decision Making(1) Research Seminar(1) children’s learning(1) Rich Documentation(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Book Club(2) Line-ups(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) Wesco(1) Orla Kenny(1) Ceremony(1) Awards 2018(3) Trade Unions(1) blog(53) outdoors(4) Mealtimes(1) Trade union(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Dance(1) Children's Voice(1) Thanks(1) Potential(1) Childcare(3) dining experiences(1) parents(6) baby room(1) PIP(1) Builders(1) RIE philosphy(1) Pen green(1) code of ethics(1) Universal Design(2) UNICEF report(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Pobal sector profile(1) quarantine kids(1) Spiders(1) research(6) Maths Week Ireland(1) Pre-School Services(1) Home Corner(1) Certificate(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Identity and Belonging(4) maternity health(1) Leadership(1) playleader(1) learning bias(1) Scéalta Blog(104) ELC(1) Creativity(6) Child mental health(1) dogs(1) peer group(1) Anxiety(2) Party(1) Treasure Chest(1) Facebook(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Leargas(1) Infectious diseases(1) Breathing(2) Intention(1) Irish(1) University(1) Laughter(1) Fee Play(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) ReCreate(2) Culture(2) Scéalta Book Review(1) Wonder(1) Sweets(1) Whole Group(1) Visitors(1) Penguins(1) play stories(2) National Annual Awards 2020(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) AIM(2) Thank you(1) Impact(1) Professionalisation(5) documentation(4) Reading Time(1) National Pyjama Day(1) play pod(1) Engagement(1) Sustainable(1) annual conference(1) risk assessment(1) stories(3) First 5 transitions for children award(1) journey(1) National Holiday(1) emotions(2) Administrative Burden(1) bloom app(1) UD(1) play pods(2) democracy(1) Staff Motivation(1) gender stereotype(1) GDPR(1) Online(1) phone apps(1) outdoor environment(1) trust(4) Recycle(1) Winter(1) National Awards 2019(1) primary education(1) Inspirational(2) Interaction(1) Horizon 2020(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Settling in(4) Favouritism(1) Maynooth(1) Children's Rights(3) Laugh(1) Workplace well-being(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Covid pandemic(2) Decisions(1) outdoor space(3) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) MECPI(1) Queues(1) toddlers(3) Xbox(1) Educators(2) Equality(1) online training(1) Yoga(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Easter(1) Halloween(2) San Miniato(4) Biting(1) supportive environments(2) Mindfulness(3) Learning Story Awards(2) Albert Einstein(1) Sustainability(3) Meal time(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Mental Health(4) Norway(2) environments(1) Plastic(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Our Little Seed(1) Snakes(1) Study Trip(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Diversity(1) Anthony Semann(1) awards 2020(1) continual professional development(1) Recycling(2) Qualifications(1) Bereavement(2) listening(1) social science(1) First 5(1) curiosity(3) Little Buddies(1) Affordability(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Ariana Pucci(1) risky play(2) INTO(1) Light table(1) Drawing(2) coronavirus(1) Map(1) racism(1) AsIAm(2) Confident(1) Your place(1) Thinking(1) life long learning(1) babies(7) Magda Gerber(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Pretend Play(1) Children's Research Network(1) UN(1) Iceland(1) Mayo(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) friendships(1) developing motor skills(1) eating(1) animals(2) Looking Forward(1) Sculptures(1) Sport(1) science(3) Loving Relationships(2) Learning journals(1) Body Language(1) Death(2) Arts(1) overhear(1) Craft(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Kindness(1) Quality(4) DES Inspection(1) preschool(4) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) bonds(1) Academic Skills(1) Online Research Symposium(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) CCTV(1) Exclusion(1) Counting(1) Shapes(2) NAEYC(1) Fantasy play(1) early childhood(1) Feeding(1) Supernanny(1) Autism(4) Imagination(3) aistear blog(3) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Degree(1) Christmas Creativity(2) School Age Childcare(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Access and Inclusion Model(2) The Lullaby Book(1) science week(2) Advocacy(1) educating(1) pablo(1) grandchild(1) Síolta QAP(1) SPICE Framework(1) Interactions(3) democratic citizens(1) Children(4) Human Resources(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) child-centric(1) Youtube Series(1) Arlene Forster(1) RTE Investigates(1) Kindness Challenge(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine