Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Children doing it for themselves!


Tuesday 01 May 2018

One day, a few months ago, I was walking along a beach. Two little boys ran past me. They were maybe 6 and 4 years old. They came to some rocks and the older boy held out his hand to his little brother or friend. The older one wanted to help the other negotiate the rockpools but I heard the younger boy say "I wanna do it myself!" 

It made me remember that one of my own boy’s favourite phrases was "I want to do it my own self".

And then I remembered a TV ad that drives me mad each time I see it… a boy, maybe 8 years old, standing passively while his mammy adjusts his coat and scarf. The child in this ad is given no opportunity to do it himself!

Observed situations like these lead us to reflect on our image of the child and how this image we hold of young children influences how we work with them.

Aistear encourages early childhood educators to see children as capable, competent and confident learners. That premise is central to Aistear.

Why does it matter to support children to be independent? Surely it’s easier and safer to do things for children…not to mention faster? Not so!

We all learn from our mistakes. If we don’t give children opportunities to attempt simple everyday things like putting on coats, pouring drinks or using scissors they can’t learn to carry out these tasks. I often say that none of us learn to cook by watching TV programmes… we learn to cook by cooking. Aistear and Siolta value active learning. This means accepting that in supporting children to develop self-help skills and independence, it can take longer to get outside… but that’s OK. It can take longer to have snack or lunch… but that’s OK. And it might be messier… and that’s OK too.

If we trust children and encourage them to take on and off coats, pour drinks, use scissors, climb, run, jump and take risks they will rise to the occasion. And when things go wrong… when the drink spills, or the coat is upside down or when they fall, we must just help them see that this is not the end of the world and they can try again.

At the OMEP Conference in Cork this past weekend, the developers of The Curiosity Approach spoke about plastic. They said that it is practically indestructible and how its constant use limits consequences. It was really interesting to reflect on this. You can throw a plastic cup and nothing happens… you can’t throw a real cup like that. Using attractive real items shows we value children, we trust them and we appreciate their competence. This does require us to slow things down and give more time for exploration and play. This interesting article from 2014 says that less structured activities leads to high executive functioning.

So in real life how do we support children to be independent, to take increasing responsibility and act on curiosity?

  • When dressing/ undressing encourage children… even babies and toddlers to help out. And encourage parents to do the same.
  • When feeding encourage children to help… having a second spoon, using finger foods and having small bowls so that children can spoon out their own portions.
  • Have small jugs rather than big ones so children can pour their own drinks.
  • After meals encourage children to tidy up.
  • Encourage children to be part of documentation… taking photos, drawing pictures, choosing what to add to learning stories and what to say about images used in learning stories.

Please share your ideas with us too!

In a previous Scéalta post, I mentioned meeting a mother of a little girl in playschool. “This mammy had tears in her eyes as she told me how she dreads collecting her little girl from pre-school, as all she hears is about the ‘bad things’ that happened all morning. She finds this upsetting and feels it affects her relationship with her daughter. Going home is not a happy time, with chats about the day, who she played with and what she did.”

We should reflect on this and ensure that children feel good about trying new things and know that their confidence and competence is growing, valued and encouraged.

For more inspiration have a look at these learning stories. They give some lovely examples of confident, competent, independent children in action!

Independent lady learning story

To construct or deconstruct

A letter to Kelly

Building a ladder

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

journey(1) movement behaviours(1) baby room(1) Children's Voice(1) Penguins(1) Fee Play(1) UNCRC(2) blog(29) The Lullaby Book(1) Positivity(1) dining experiences(1) Socioemotional development(1) Iceland(1) Book Club(2) risk assessment(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Intention(1) bonds(1) education(2) CPD(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) supportive environments(2) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Academic Skills(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Interactions(2) Love(2) Celebrate(1) mushrooms(1) Body Language(1) Budget 2019(2) Trigonometry(1) Care-giving routines(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Irish(1) Shoes(1) respect(5) Mud kitchens(1) Identity(5) Pen green(1) European Project(1) Playschool(1) interacting(2) community(5) Treasure Chest(1) DES Inspection(1) development(8) Belonging(3) Role play(1) Communicating(1) STEM(3) code of ethics(1) Gratitude(1) Arts(1) Snack Time(1) meals(3) Policy(2) Potential(1) planning(1) Snacks(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Meal time(1) overhear(1) story time(2) Childcare(3) life long learning(1) Vertical grouping(1) Teamwork(1) early learning(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Workforce(1) social science(1) NAEYC(1) Nonverbal(1) phone apps(1) Party(1) Inspections(1) outdoors(3) Graduation(1) Inter-generational(2) Early Childhood Ireland(1) childcare services(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Prexit(1) Arlene Forster(1) purpose(1) keezy(1) Appreciation(1) Learning Story Awards(2) ECEC Setting(2) National Holiday(1) Cork(1) primary education(1) grandchild(1) babies(7) relationships(17) Performance Management(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) AsIAm(2) TOY Programme(1) Youtube Series(1) Participation(2) early years research(2) Buddy Bench(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) research submissions(1) reading(5) Traditions(2) Art(6) Employee(1) INTO(1) Sweets(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Jenga(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Change(1) Mental Health(3) value(1) friendships(1) Routines(2) Cognitive development(1) University(1) Visitors(1) Affordability(1) Exploring(1) Performing(1) conference(1) Digital Devices(1) Learning journals(1) Adoption(1) budget(1) animals(2) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Magic(1) Challenges(1) Child mental health(1) continual professional development(1) MECPI(1) Mayo(1) scéalta(32) Sequins(1) Santa(2) United Nations(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Budget 2018(1) christmas(9) Engagement(1) AIM(2) EM Standing(1) CCTV(1) behavioural science(1) Home Corner(1) worries(1) Self-regulation(1) San Miniato(4) Decisions(1) Elders(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) risk(2) Through the looking glass(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Professionalisation(5) Qualifications(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Window(1) stories(3) dublin(2) Family(1) eating(1) Plants(1) Fabric(1) Learning Stories(9) Mixed age groups(2) Favouritism(1) Trade Unions(1) dining(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Interaction(1) Design(1) Easter(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Competent(1) Quality(4) bloom app(1) memories(1) COVID-19(4) RTE Investigates(1) ReCreate(2) Montessori(3) Inter-generational learning(2) Rising to the Challenge(2) Environment(2) Relaxation(1) Valentine's Day(3) Exercise(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) science(3) Loss(1) Maria Montessori(1) Running(1) Maynooth(1) Training(2) child-centred approach(1) transitions(10) TRAP(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Touch(1) HR(1) Maynooth University(2) Care routines(1) Frustrations(1) Infectious diseases(1) Breathing(2) DCYA(4) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Blocks(1) Reggio(1) Ariana Pucci(1) staying connected(1) Consent(1) Technology(3) Workplace Relations(3) maternity health(1) Photographs(1) listening(1) Community involvement(1) Children(4) Stress(2) ICBN(1) Childhood(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Mealtimes(1) Settling in(4) Maths(5) Syria(1) learning bias(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Self Help Skills(1) Maths Week(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Visual Impairment(1) Bereavement(2) Recycling(2) pablo(1) Educators(2) Department of Education and Skills(1) Treasure(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Culture(2) Study Trip(1) early life(1) Síolta(112) parents(6) Child Care(1) Seas Suas(1) Biting(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Fantasy play(1) Certificate(1) Children's Rights(3) Hand Hygiene(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Masterclass(2) Arithmetic(1) National Awards 2018(2) conversations(1) Inclusion(3) Time(2) Leprechauns(1) Spiders(1) Japan(1) Reading Time(1) opportunity(1) documentation(4) collaboration(1) Dance(1) play stories(2) Weather(1) Siolta blog(8) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) awards 2020(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Malaguzzi(1) Document Learning(1) Time Out(1) routine(2) Educator of the Year Award(3) Tuscan Approach(2) Awards(2) Universal Design(2) Decision Making(1) Learning Story(1) Support(1) Opportunities(1) Iraq(1) ECCE(7) Síolta QAP(1) UD(1) Scents(1) Leaders in Practice(1) family time(1) Story(1) Upcycling(1) Laugh(1) iOS(1) Engineering(3) research(6) Research Seminar(1) Awards 2018(3) Obesity(1) Recycle(1) keep in touch(1) children development(1) Identity and Belonging(4) experience(1) science week(2) Funding(1) food(1) Creativity(4) Kerry(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Line-ups(1) Death(2) apps for children(1) Family wall(1) refugees(1) emotions(2) National Childcare Scheme(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) risky play(2) Wrapping paper(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Yoga(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) SPICE Framework(1) Interests(1) Human Resources(1) IGL(1) Confidence(1) Gardening(1) Buddies(1) structure(1) Oireachtas(1) early childhood educator(2) gender stereotype(1) Halloween(2) Impact(1) Investment(2) MA(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Laughter(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Little Buddies(1) educating(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Feeding(1) Leadership(1) Capable(1) under 3's(3) Independence(1) Names(1) feisty(1) Early Years Educators(3) art of the relationship(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Staff Motivation(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Limerick(1) Digital(1) pets(1) CIT(1) developing motor skills(1) Eritrea(1) aistear blog(3) Exclusion(1) linc(1) First 5(1) Mathematicians(1) ears(1) Builders(1) outdoor play(6) Grief(1) Map(1) Reflective Practice(1) Kids Own(1) Games(1) Aistear(118) Our Little Seed(1) Thank you(1) Pobal(1) Anxiety(2) Meet the Members(1) RIE philosphy(1) Kilkenny(1) Diversity(1) Awards Night(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) imotion(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) New Appointments(1) Social Skills(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Magda Gerber(1) annual conference(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Magnavacchi(1) Mindfulness(2) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Mantra(1) gender bias(1) Rich Documentation(1) Online(1) Xbox(1) learners(1) GDPR(1) E.coli(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) School Age Childcare(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Pre-School Services(1) Wendy Lee(3) The Jelly King(1) Awards 2019(1) Engineers Week(2) Advocacy(1) Giraffe(2) Queues(1) Health(2) Brain(1) Workplace well-being(1) Music(3) Wonder(1) preschool settings(1) College(1) Primary School(2) Infection Control(1) Winter(1) Mark Twain(1) communication(4) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Special Needs Assistants(1) Playdough(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Learning Journal(2) Inspirational(2) preschool(4) EECERA 2016(1) Early Years(1) Building Resilience(1) Children's Research Network(1) Maternity Leave(1) trust(5) man up(1) Orla Kenny(1) Light table(1) Academics(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Thanks(1) youdoodle(1) social media(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Confident(1) Sustainable(1) Shapes(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Thinking(1) Titles(1) Italy(1) outdoor space(3) Painting(1) Wilenski(1) Sculptures(1) learning(19) Trade union(1) Children and families(1) Glitter(2) Twitter(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Graduate(1) Afghanistan(1) Whole Group(1) role playing(1) early years learning(1) Storytelling(6) Communications(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Autism(4) ECEC(2) show and tell(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Supernanny(1) Drawing(2) Mount Everest(1) Smiles(1) Well-Being(9) toddlers(3) Leargas(1) PIP(1) Norway(2) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Flowers(1) Event Guide(1) Covid pandemic(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Vietnam(1) Imagination(3) Albert Einstein(1) environments(1) Celebrations(4) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) National Awards 2019(1) Craft(1) listen(1) educarer(1) Margy Whalley(1) UN(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Degree(1) dogs(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Mo Scéal(1) Snakes(1) play(34) Sleep(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) curiosity(3) NCCA(3) Nutrition(1) Summer(1) Horizon 2020(1) Budget 2020(1) Sustainability(3) emotional environment(2) Creative(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Scéalta Blog(99) Reggio Children Network(1) Sport(1) Exit interview(1) healthy eating policies(1) ERASMUS+(3) Trick or treat(1) Facebook(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Lego(2) First 5 strategy(1) Wesco(1) Traffic Lights(1) play therapy(1) Ceremony(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Administrative Burden(1) Patterns(1) Book Review(1) Plastic(1) Self-Esteem(1) Behaviour(3) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Sessional service(1) Empathy(1) books(4) Rituals(1) curriculum(5)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine