Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Carol Duffy, master of the outdoors


Monday 18 January 2021

Last month we said a fond farewell to our colleague Carol Duffy, who retired from Early Childhood Ireland after nearly 40 years of working in the early years. Back in the 1980s, there were no childcare regulations, no accredited training for early year educators and no funding for Early Learning and Care services.

There were, however, lots of playgroups both private and community with many operating from the play leader’s own home. Community playgroups often operated from the local school, managed by a committee made up mostly of parents and the play leader. Play leaders then relied heavily on the “Rota Mother” for assistance. The Rota Mother volunteered to stay for the whole session and help the playleader. This may have been on a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis depending on the size of the setting and the generosity of the mothers, many of whom did not work outside the home.


It was as one such young Rota Mother in Baldoyle Community Playgroup that our esteemed colleague Carol Duffy had her first introduction to the world of early years.  The playleader, Phil Reeves, mentored and coached Carol as she moved on to become the play assistant and later, the Play Leader.  Phil recently recalls that back then, they were ahead of their time - bringing the children on many trips, organising sports days and facilitating summer camps during school holidays, which of course, all involved lots of outdoor activities- an area Carol was passionate about even way back then. Phil also remembers Carol’s sunny disposition: “Carol took on every day with a cheerful smile and an almost magical sense of resourcefulness, always full of warmth and enthusiasm for whoever crossed her path, be it one of our little charges, a parent, or a colleague.”

Carol attended the local Irish Preschool Playgroups Association (IPPA) monthly branch meetings, undertook any training courses that were on offer at the time and went on to become a volunteer on IPPA’s Dublin Branch. The first government funding to become available to the early years sector came through the then Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in the 90s. While the government’s focus was on supporting women to return to the workforce (rather than the child’s rights to quality, affordable childcare), this funding gave IPPA the opportunity to facilitate an accredited City and Guild 7307 certificate course in Adult and Further Education. Carol was one of the first graduates of this course. Carol continued throughout her career as an Early Childhood Specialist to engage in on-going training and Continuing Professional Development which included a degree in Adult Education and a Masters in education, (and Early Years) with Birmingham City University in association with the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC).  While Carol always knew the benefits to children of spending time in the outdoors and the joy of experiencing nature, her research for her Masters into the critical role movement in young children’s development confirmed her own beliefs and knowledge. This provided Carol with evidence-based information which she generously shared with colleagues and students. Carol also encouraged and empowered early years educators to reflect on their provision, particularly the outdoor space and how children use it. Carol assisted many settings in transforming their outdoor spaces, whether large or tiny, into places where children had daily opportunities to engage in a range of interesting and challenging experiences with staff who appreciated the need for and benefits of this outdoor provision. Often, these changes occurred with little expense as Carol suggested creative solutions and the inclusion of loose parts.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of playing outside in the fresh air have been appreciated more than ever by children, parents and educators.  Carol presented a webinar in June 2020 on “Outdoor shelters and transforming spaces” and this is still available on the First 5 CPD website

Carol’s love of the outdoors led to her developing her talents as a writer. The Trunks, a story for children, and Nurture through Nature are just two of her published books. Many who know Carol will also know of her love of photography and the many beautiful images of nature she shared both personally and in her many presentations over the years, helping us to appreciate the detail and beauty of sticks, stones, leaves, shells as well as seashores, woodlands, meadows and rivers. 

Throughout her long career as a trainer, mentor, and lecturer Carol has never lost her sunny disposition, her warmth or enthusiasm that Phil fondly remembers. Indeed, her ability to view her work through the lens of an early years educator ensured that she made genuine and meaningful connections with all those she worked with, colleagues and educators alike.  Everyone in Early Childhood Ireland joins with the many early years educators and national and international early years experts, in wishing Carol a long, healthy and happy retirement as she embarks on this new phase in life’s journey.


For more on Outdoors with Carol:  

Carol's blog

Webinar - Outdoors: Sensory-Motor Development

Blog- A prayer for Mushroom Hill

Blog- Risky Play

0 comments Comments

Comments are closed.

environments(1) Return to Work Training(1) creche(1) Wrapping paper(1) Margy Whalley(1) Magda Gerber(1) Seanchaí(1) CCTV(1) Autism(4) life long learning(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Laugh(1) Imagination(3) GoToMeeting app(1) Sustainable(1) grandchild(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Snack Time(1) EECERA 2016(1) Sculptures(1) Recycling(2) Exit interview(1) Wesco(1) RTE Investigates(1) experience(1) lockdown(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Inter-generational learning(2) Confident(1) routine(2) Interaction(1) Culture(2) National Annual Awards 2020(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) early life(1) early years learning(1) memories(1) Afghanistan(1) Pre-School Services(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Loving Relationships(2) Care-giving routines(1) multi-generational community(1) preschool(4) educarer(1) Behaviour(3) ECEC(3) social media policy(1) Childcare(3) Christmas Creativity(2) annual awards(1) Vietnam(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Kerry(1) UNCRC(2) purpose(1) Meal time(1) Snakes(1) Fantasy play(1) journey(1) Story(2) eating(1) meals(3) Death(2) New Appointments(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) food(1) play(35) ReCreate(2) Performance Management(1) Favouritism(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Party(1) art of the relationship(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) European Project(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Small World Play(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Budget 2019(2) Learning through Storytelling(2) Empathy(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Fabric(1) Queues(1) Halloween(2) responsive relationships(1) Mathematicians(1) Music(3) Proceedings Journal(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) reopening ireland(1) The Jelly King(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Reflective Practice(1) early year’s classrooms(1) Thinking(1) Biting(1) relationships(18) Yoga(1) Recycle(1) Playschool(1) Builders(1) Traffic Lights(1) Reading Time(2) dining(1) Magnavacchi(1) Child mental health(1) emotions(2) COVID-19(15) National Holiday(1) ears(1) Bereavement(2) education system(1) Capable(1) partnership with families(1) Workplace well-being(1) keezy(1) Ceremony(1) Lego(2) First 5 strategy(1) emotional well-being(1) Laughter(1) Technology(3) Teamwork(1) healthy eating policies(1) Training(2) outdoor environment(1) MECPI(1) Decision Making(1) Online(1) Running(1) code of ethics(1) Social Skills(1) Wonder(1) Covid pandemic(3) Celebrations(4) Love(3) Positivity(1) Kindness(1) Workforce(1) child-centred approach(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) iOS(1) Masterclass(2) Children's Research Network(2) Sequins(1) Inspirational(2) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Jenga(1) Kindness Challenge(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Meet the Members(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) Line-ups(1) Equality(1) Treasure(1) Gardening(1) Graduate(1) children’s learning(1) Mixed age groups(3) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Maynooth University(2) Pobal sector profile(1) Thank you(1) Family(1) Thanks(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Summer(1) Academics(1) under 3's(3) listen(1) Engineers Week(2) Health(2) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) University(1) Time Out(1) Your place(1) built environments(1) Environment(2) Easter(1) Learning Story(1) linc(1) Exploring(1) Prexit(1) Relaxation(1) CPD(1) Our Little Seed(1) Event Guide(1) Engagement(1) Fee Play(1) Belonging(3) developing motor skills(1) Appreciation(1) Family wall(1) structure(1) outdoor space(3) Challenges(1) Vertical grouping(1) early years research(3) Childhood(1) research(6) research submissions(1) Leadership(1) curiosity(3) Counting(1) Decisions(1) mental health problems(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Change(1) Mount Everest(1) Child Care(1) Syria(1) early childhood(1) blog(54) Shoes(1) phone apps(1) Titles(1) scéalta(57) Growing up Outdoors(2) interacting(2) Looking Forward(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Hand Hygiene(2) code of professional responsibility(1) Snacks(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Frosty the Snowman(1) Confidence(1) Early Years Education(1) story time(2) Craft(1) Study Trip(1) Identity(5) Book Review(1) Patterns(1) Feeding(1) Sessional service(1) Mark Twain(1) AIM(2) movement behaviours(1) Loss(1) AsIAm(2) Educator of the Year Award(3) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Kilkenny(1) Twitter(1) Mantra(1) ECIAwards20(1) Community involvement(1) Potential(1) Celebrate(1) apps for children(1) learning hub(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Pretend Play(1) Inspections(1) Norway(2) community(5) Engineering Ireland(1) an post(1) PIP(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Blocks(1) Maynooth(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) International Narratives(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) risk(2) Communications(1) Exclusion(1) Self-regulation(1) Children and families(2) Annual Conference 2019(1) Horizon 2020(1) Japan(1) Trade Unions(1) Covid19 crisis(1) pets(1) ERASMUS+(3) Supernanny(1) Graduation(1) Names(1) HR(1) Learning Journal(2) Certificate(1) friendships(1) reopening(1) Large Doll Play(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) youdoodle(1) Maths Week(1) Anxiety(2) Exploring and Thinking(1) United Nations(1) Buddies(1) Communicating(1) christmas(9) children development(1) parents(6) Infectious diseases(1) Síolta QAP(1) Buddy Bench(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) communication(4) Maternity Leave(1) learning(19) Leaders in Practice(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) Santa(2) Research and Professional Learning(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Albert Einstein(1) worldbookday(1) Arlene Forster(1) Academic Skills(1) gender stereotype(1) Inter-generational(2) inspiring interactions(1) Penguins(1) Universal Design(2) overhear(1) Limerick(1) pablo(1) respect(5) National Awards 2018(2) Engineering(3) Opportunities(1) baby room(1) Children's Voice(1) National Pyjama Day(1) maternity health(1) Smiles(1) Trick or treat(1) Montessori(3) Breathing(2) Self Help Skills(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Drawing(2) Mud kitchens(1) School Age Childcare(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Advocacy(1) Light table(1) Workplace Relations(3) feisty(1) Learning journals(1) curriculum(5) Window(1) Mental Health(4) Facebook(1) development(8) Cork(1) Identity and Belonging(4) IGL(1) Research Seminar(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) documentation(4) Youtube Series(1) ECCE(7) CIT(1) early years settings(1) Routines(2) Adoption(1) peer group(1) Building Resilience(1) Leprechauns(1) Interactions(3) risky play(2) Diversity(1) Degree(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) TRAP(1) Síolta(138) Photographs(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) staying connected(1) Valentine's Day(3) Well-Being(10) Scéalta Blog(104) National Research Conference 2019(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) role playing(1) ICBN(1) reading(6) NCCA(3) Trade union(1) listening(1) Pen green(1) Scents(1) Exercise(1) Stress(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) aistear blog(3) babies(7) Traditions(2) World book day(1) planning(1) dublin(2) Nutrition(1) natural environment(1) Malaguzzi(1) early childhood ireland research(1) science week(2) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) Kids Own(1) Spiders(1) Digital(1) trust(4) Body Language(1) Early Childhood Education(1) Care routines(1) Creativity(6) keep in touch(1) Intention(1) Anthony Semann(1) Pobal(1) Reggio(1) Games(1) quarantine(1) Awards Night(1) show and tell(1) Settling in(4) Mealtimes(1) racism(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Document Learning(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) emotional environment(2) Frustrations(1) Covid response(2) ECEC Setting(2) First 5(1) worries(1) Touch(1) Cognitive development(1) Impact(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Through the looking glass(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Whole Group(1) STEM(3) Xbox(1) Employee(1) mushrooms(1) annual conference(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) First 5 transitions for children award(1) risk assessment(1) Rich Documentation(1) man up(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) family time(1) Map(1) Administrative Burden(1) Looking Back(1) Sleep(1) Rituals(1) Orla Kenny(1) UD(1) Upcycling(1) Iceland(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Early Years Educators(3) imotion(1) Magic(1) play therapy(1) online training(1) Sport(1) Wendy Lee(3) Performing(1) june29(1) Interests(1) Awards(2) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) toddlers(3) animals(2) GDPR(1) Brain(1) RIE philosphy(1) Gratitude(1) Giraffe(2) SPICE Framework(1) budget(1) UNICEF report(1) Irish(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Reggio Emilia(2) Wilenski(1) Inspiring Practice(1) Qualifications(1) books(5) Mo Scéal(1) Exploratory Play(1) Art(6) Eritrea(1) Digital Devices(1) Siolta blog(8) gender bias(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Learning Stories(9) dogs(1) Italy(1) bonds(1) College(1) Sustainability(3) Department of Education and Skills(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Design(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Independence(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Storytelling(8) Quality(4) Nonverbal(1) NAEYC(1) education(2) Shapes(2) Self-Esteem(1) Arithmetic(1) Funding(1) TOY Programme(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) play pods(2) Ariana Pucci(1) outdoor play(7) EM Standing(1) Little Buddies(1) Mindfulness(3) play stories(2) ELC(1) play pod(1) Investment(2) democracy(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) SAC(1) Sweets(1) Children's Rights(3) Creative(1) behavioural science(1) Support(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) outdoors(4) Iraq(1) stories(3) educating(1) Oireachtas(1) playleader(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Seas Suas(1) Role play(1) Painting(1) Online Research Symposium(2) transitions(10) Learning Stories Award(3) Budget 2018(1) Competent(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Awards 2019(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Grief(1) childcare services(1) child-centric(1) E.coli(1) Early Learning and Care(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Arts(1) Awards 2018(3) Visual Impairment(1) primary education(1) Maria Montessori(1) Policy(2) preschool settings(1) Inclusion(3) social science(1) Consent(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Participation(2) Children's Book Club(1) value(1) homeschool(1) learning bias(1) science(3) Children(5) Maths(6) Treasure Chest(1) Dance(1) Visitors(1) Winter(1) supportive environments(2) Early Years(1) Pedagogy(2) Mayo(1) continual professional development(1) Infection Control(1) scientific and artistic processes(1) Staff Motivation(1) social media(2) World Health Organisation(1) National Awards 2019(1) EECERA(1) Time(1) Professionalisation(5) early childhood educator(2) Socioemotional development(1) Leargas(1) Human Resources(1) collaboration(1) Playdough(1) Flowers(1) Trigonometry(1) learners(1) Budget 2020(1) awards 2020(1) Obesity(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) conference(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) MA(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Weather(1) Affordability(1) Primary School(3) democratic citizens(1) DCYA(6) dining experiences(1) Plants(1) Glitter(2) Deirdre Rogers(1) coronavirus(1) Home Corner(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) INTO(1) Book Club(2) Irish guidelines(1) Elders(1) UN(1) Aistear(130) conversations(1) DES Inspection(1) Educators(2) bloom app(1) San Miniato(4) refugees(1) partnership(1) Plastic(1) STEAM(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine