Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

An end to line-ups!


Tuesday 23 January 2018

I was very fortunate to be invited to attend a study visit to Norway with Early Childhood Ireland a few years ago. Of course, the visit was very exciting. I had never visited Norway and had always admired the country’s reputation for high quality early years experiences especially in risk taking and outdoor play. However, it was a throw away comment from an Early Years Educator in Trondheim that stayed with me and really made me think. A very fit looking educator was guiding us around their forest area. He strode out in front of us and 25 Early Years Educators and trainers practising in Ireland dutifully formed a line behind. Our guide stopped and turned to look at us and he chuckled how the Irish loved to form a line and make queues.


I still think back on this. I remember being quite close to the front of the line and I followed the educator turning back also and smiled at his observation as we all dutifully followed each other’s footsteps. Now it has since been said to me that there is environmental merit to this approach. I’m not so sure on this as surely trampling along the same piece of ground means more damage to the plants along that path but, leaving that aside, it did make me think.

Returning to my service I shared my thoughts. First, I was struck how I had been affected by a throw away comment. Why were the words in this moment so thought provoking? I’m not sure the educator was even aware that I was processing them as they certainly were not planned… it was just that they had hit a chord with me. I wondered in how many moments had I had a similar effect on the children in my care and the staff team? Of course, I will never know, unless they were in some way shared with me.  I am also aware that sometimes messages or signals I have given have been interpreted in ways I did not plan or intend. I think we never have complete control on how a message is heard, as so much depends on the recipient. However, I feel this is also something to be aware of and deserves reflection. So, following reflection as a team, we asked the following questions: 

Why did we form queues as adults?

When did we encourage children to form lines?

Was lining up in the best interests of the children?

Did forming an “orderly queue” reduce conflicts?

Looking at our practice we thought about how we used queues in the setting and how their use affected the children. At this time, we used queues mainly for transitions: moving rooms after breakfast, going outside, washing hands for meal times for example. We sang songs to make this more enjoyable for the children and felt it helped us to manage the transitions in our service. However, we also observed that it was a time the children were relatively inactive, a time of higher conflicts and a time where the children were expected to be compliant and wait.


Based on these observations we decided to change things a little. When moving rooms during the day children now head off to the new room individually. Our rooms are connected by a shared outdoor area so really this flow is much easier to manage. We no longer queue to wait for children getting dressed to go out. Instead when each child is dressed they go outside. The big call for meal times is now gone as each child individually washes their hands and snack is available for children when they are ready. Children are more active as waiting times are reduced. There are fewer conflicts as each child maintains their own space more easily and the children have more freedom within boundaries.


These relatively small changes have been so effective for creating a flow between the indoors and outdoors and also during transitions. I am not saying these changes have come easily to us as adults as we have needed to battle our urge to make lines. Perhaps this is something instilled in most of us from our own school days. However, we believe the changes have been in the interests of the children. At times I have felt frustrated when a new team member joins our team and I witness a queue being formed to manage a transition. At this point I take a breath, and remember my Norwegian guide in Trondheim and then tell my story!

For more Scéalta posts on Transitions read:


Sarah Twohig is Manager at Crawford Childcare in Glanmire, Co. Cork. Sarah began her career in Early Years Education after her own children started school. Returning to education after a break she studied Early Years at FETAC level 5 and continued to complete a HETAC level 8 in Early Childhood Studies and LINC. Sarah joined Crawford Childcare in 2010. Her areas of interest in the early years include the benefits of outdoor play, supporting children’s social competence and inclusion. In this post Sarah talks about some of the influences which led her service to change their approach to transitions and lining up.

2 comments Comments

2 Responses

  1. Paula Conlon says:

    This makes me feel a little guilty, just today I felt a sense of pride of our preschoolers who formed a very orderly straight line while waiting to go back indoors, all 22 of them. Now I’m questioning my own motives. Oh dear!

  2. Maire Corbett says:

    Thank you so much Paula for your comments on Sarah’s blog, it is wonderful to hear how early years educators are ‘thinking about’ their practice and always putting the best interests of children first. Don’t feel guilty…. Just keep reflecting and remember all we can do is strive to keep the balance! Knowing that it was always in the best interests of children, we can continue to feel proud…..

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

early childhood educator(2) early childhood(1) respect(5) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Pretend Play(1) Investment(2) Easter(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) collaboration(1) Horizon 2020(1) research(6) Building Resilience(1) Trigonometry(1) Trade Unions(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Inter-generational(2) Maths Week(1) DCYA(6) Margy Whalley(1) Engagement(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) apps for children(1) social media(1) Competent(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Montessori(3) routine(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) parents(6) Buddies(1) mental health problems(1) play(35) Identity and Belonging(4) grandchild(1) Games(1) Scents(1) value(1) dining(1) life long learning(1) movement behaviours(1) Síolta QAP(1) Your place(1) Family wall(1) Graduate(1) books(4) Wonder(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) EECERA 2016(1) early life(1) UNCRC(2) children development(1) Return to Work Training(1) Mixed age groups(3) Queues(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Belonging(3) INTO(1) Santa(2) Children and families(1) Budget 2020(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) STEM(3) mushrooms(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Flowers(1) meals(3) COVID-19 crisis(1) Universal Design(2) Giraffe(2) Health(2) Iceland(1) dining experiences(1) Spiders(1) Learning Journal(2) Frosty the Snowman(1) Cognitive development(1) Quality(4) Children's Research Network(1) CCTV(1) Workplace Relations(3) University(1) RIE philosphy(1) Reggio Emilia(1) story time(2) EM Standing(1) Traffic Lights(1) Arithmetic(1) National Awards 2019(1) Behaviour(3) scéalta(47) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Laughter(1) Mantra(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Weather(1) Patterns(1) Study Trip(1) Qualifications(1) Kerry(1) Workplace well-being(1) listening(1) Online(1) UNICEF report(1) ECEC Setting(2) maternity health(1) budget(1) Self-Esteem(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Pedagogy(2) purpose(1) Eritrea(1) healthy eating policies(1) NAEYC(1) Interactions(2) Masterclass(2) Professionalisation(5) pets(1) Creative(1) primary education(1) Potential(1) Celebrate(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) lockdown(1) School Age Childcare(1) christmas(9) Afghanistan(1) Nutrition(1) Change(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Capable(1) learners(1) Wilenski(1) Learning Stories Award(3) education(2) Yoga(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Laugh(1) Care routines(1) TRAP(1) Brain(1) Confident(1) Challenges(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Sweets(1) Autism(4) COVID-19(11) Reopening Childcare(1) Playschool(1) june29(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) staying connected(1) Exit interview(1) Sport(1) Learning Story(1) under 3's(3) reopening ireland(1) Nonverbal(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Drawing(2) Seas Suas(1) Diversity(1) Book Club(2) Scéalta Blog(100) science(3) First 5 strategy(1) SAC(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Craft(1) Performing(1) Impact(1) Funding(1) Childhood(1) Seanchaí(1) Valentine's Day(3) Degree(1) babies(7) risky play(2) Emergent Curriculum(1) Pre-School Services(1) Environment(2) refugees(1) Recycling(2) preschool(4) World Health Organisation(1) Counting(1) listen(1) code of ethics(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) imotion(1) planning(1) show and tell(1) online training(1) eating(1) educating(1) iOS(1) Reading Time(1) ECCE(7) IGL(1) Academic Skills(1) Document Learning(1) Engineers Week(2) responsive relationships(1) Traditions(2) Reggio Children Network(1) Inspections(1) Human Resources(1) baby room(1) Participation(2) relationships(17) environments(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Awards 2019(1) conversations(1) DES Inspection(1) Primary School(2) developing motor skills(1) Thanks(1) Interests(1) food(1) emotional well-being(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) RTE Investigates(1) Inclusion(3) SPICE Framework(1) toddlers(3) Breathing(2) documentation(4) Trade union(1) CIT(1) Halloween(2) Performance Management(1) Leprechauns(1) Visual Impairment(1) Names(1) Thinking(1) worries(1) Book Review(1) Nuturing interactions(1) San Miniato(4) Síolta(128) Teamwork(1) Treasure Chest(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Story(2) Maths(6) gender bias(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Line-ups(1) Learning journals(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) memories(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Learning Stories(9) awards 2020(1) coronavirus(1) UN(1) College(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Magda Gerber(1) Supernanny(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Maria Montessori(1) MA(1) Digital Devices(1) Shoes(1) code of professional responsibility(1) NCCA(3) Glitter(2) Rituals(1) AsIAm(2) Employee(1) Irish guidelines(1) Mental Health(4) Tuscan Approach(2) ReCreate(2) Advocacy(1) Settling in(4) AIM(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) Siolta blog(8) Sequins(1) Reflective Practice(1) peer group(1) behavioural science(1) Policy(2) learning bias(1) MECPI(1) Adoption(1) Art(6) Awards(2) Research and Professional Learning(1) Snacks(1) Feeding(1) Identity(5) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) creche(1) Orla Kenny(1) Facebook(1) Oireachtas(1) The Jelly King(1) Mindfulness(2) Small World Play(1) Shapes(2) Department of Education and Skills(1) learning(19) Exploring(1) Large Doll Play(1) Decisions(1) science week(2) risk(2) TOY Programme(1) family time(1) curriculum(5) Reggio(1) Prexit(1) Jenga(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) ears(1) interacting(2) Culture(2) Map(1) Window(1) Snakes(1) New Appointments(1) Whole Group(1) play therapy(1) man up(1) Through the looking glass(1) aistear blog(3) Light table(1) Role play(1) Vertical grouping(1) Sleep(1) Christmas Creativity(2) outdoor space(3) Self Help Skills(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) transitions(10) Independence(1) Loving Relationships(1) Touch(1) overhear(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Learning through Storytelling(1) continual professional development(1) Mayo(1) phone apps(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Winter(1) Home Corner(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Celebrations(4) Fabric(1) ECEC(3) Leaders in Practice(1) Fee Play(1) Affordability(1) Arts(1) Irish(1) National Awards 2018(2) Summer(1) Malaguzzi(1) Design(1) Mathematicians(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Buddy Bench(1) early years learning(1) Exclusion(1) development(8) Academics(1) childcare services(1) Child Care(1) Gardening(1) play stories(2) Care-giving routines(1) Mud kitchens(1) education system(1) child-centric(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Trick or treat(1) Running(1) Loss(1) Frustrations(1) art of the relationship(1) Interaction(1) Support(1) Wendy Lee(3) Graduation(1) Painting(1) First 5(1) keep in touch(1) Intention(1) Budget 2019(2) preschool settings(1) gender stereotype(1) Grief(1) Kids Own(1) friendships(1) Technology(3) Covid19 crisis(1) Blocks(1) Syria(1) Music(3) Maynooth University(2) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Consent(1) National Holiday(1) Mealtimes(1) Youtube Series(1) annual conference(1) Treasure(1) European Project(1) Child mental health(1) Bereavement(2) Mount Everest(1) Anthony Semann(1) Workforce(1) Smiles(1) Photographs(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) keezy(1) linc(1) Death(2) Appreciation(1) GDPR(1) Twitter(1) Awards 2018(3) Well-Being(10) Routines(2) outdoor environment(1) Exploratory Play(1) Exercise(1) Childcare(3) Inspirational(2) Iraq(1) journey(1) Sessional service(1) Budget 2018(1) dublin(2) animals(2) St. Patrick's Day(1) Self-regulation(1) Creativity(5) Pedagogical leaders(1) Stress(2) Xbox(1) Titles(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Visitors(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Italy(1) play pods(2) Lego(2) communication(4) Confidence(1) Certificate(1) Albert Einstein(1) Relaxation(1) youdoodle(1) Ceremony(1) Vietnam(1) Socioemotional development(1) Storytelling(7) ELC(1) reading(5) community(5) Playdough(1) Community involvement(1) Infection Control(1) Dance(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) COVID-19 landscape(1) Rich Documentation(1) Anxiety(2) Sustainable(1) Leadership(1) Limerick(1) Early Years Educators(3) Sociodramatic play(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Our Little Seed(1) Covid pandemic(2) Meal time(1) Opportunities(1) Digital(1) dogs(1) social science(1) Positivity(1) Thank you(1) E.coli(1) Obesity(1) Infectious diseases(1) United Nations(1) PIP(1) stories(3) Party(1) Family(1) Staff Motivation(1) Imagination(3) Favouritism(1) Administrative Burden(1) Aistear(124) trust(4) Empathy(1) Sculptures(1) risk assessment(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Engineering(3) Learning Story Awards(2) Magnavacchi(1) curiosity(3) Pobal(1) role playing(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Elders(1) Children's Voice(1) Early Years Education(1) learning hub(1) HR(1) Japan(1) experience(1) Gratitude(1) Pen green(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Children(4) conference(1) Maynooth(1) outdoor play(6) Love(3) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Training(2) Recycle(1) Time Out(1) blog(43) Scéalta Book Review(1) structure(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Research Seminar(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Sustainability(3) emotional environment(2) Biting(1) feisty(1) children’s learning(1) educarer(1) Decision Making(1) Educators(2) child-centred approach(1) Communications(1) Little Buddies(1) Builders(1) Leargas(1) Early Years(1) Fantasy play(1) Arlene Forster(1) Cork(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) ERASMUS+(3) Inspired Practice Award(5) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Mo Scéal(1) emotions(2) supportive environments(2) reopening(1) Mark Twain(1) Event Guide(1) racism(1) Magic(1) Meet the Members(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) bonds(1) Early Childhood Ireland(6) Equality(1) Upcycling(1) research submissions(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Children's Rights(3) Wrapping paper(1) Plants(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Penguins(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Kilkenny(1) outdoors(4) Exploring and Thinking(1) Plastic(1) bloom app(1) pablo(1) Awards Night(1) early years research(2) Covid response(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Body Language(1) CPD(1) Social Skills(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) UD(1) Wesco(1) Norway(2) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) National Pyjama Day(1) ICBN(1) Snack Time(1) play pod(1) Time(1) Maternity Leave(1) Communicating(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine