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Finding Out & Sharing

Kathleen Tuite


Tuesday 30 January 2018

Each year Early Childhood Ireland offers an opportunity for researchers, academics and students to present the findings from their research at our Irish Early Years Research Seminar. This year is no different so we are calling all researchers who have an interest in the Early Years to be part of the conversation. Click here to forward a proposal now

As a budding researcher myself, last year I completed my Masters dissertation in Early Childhood Studies, researching Early Years Educators View of Play. While I did not consider myself to be a researcher as such, the journey I went on was fascinating. It must be said it was not easy juggling full time work with family and research, however, it did prove interesting and enlightening for me. I encourage all of you out there who work with children, to think about research you are carrying out or intend to carry out, to share it with our community of early years educators. By researching and disseminating the current issues, challenges and hopes for the sector we can provide an evidence base to support and influence change in practice.


My Research Findings:
The findings from my research convinced me that the research I carried out was worthwhile, and it provided a platform for me to be able to discuss play, how important it is for children and how our view of play impacts on how we provide for play. Nothing really new there, except, once we are aware of our view of play, we can begin to reflect on it and see other views which open our minds and hearts to the world of play. My research focused on ‘keeping an eye on play’ and it looked at what informs our view of play, play theories, different philisophies and how we see play for children today. Aistear and Síolta have been very helpful for us in reflecting on play and providing exemplars of quality play experiences for children. These documents are a great starting point for thinking about our view of play and provide a valuable resource for critiquing our assumptions.

As I wrote up the findings of my research, which captured the views of 25 early years educators across Ireland, I found that as educators our views of play are evolving and changing. We see the value of play, we know that children have a right to play and we are uniquely positioned to be great advocates of play for children. However, some pressing issues prevent us from allowing children to engage in many forms of play, particularly risky play and rough and tumble play. My findings highlighted that there was fear and risk avoidance on the part of early years educators around allowing some forms of play, but to deny children the time to engage in all forms of play, is to deny them their right to play in all its forms. Once the proper risk assessment and supervision alongside well-informed educators, is in place, we can begin to be children’s greatest advocate for play and uphold their right to play in all its forms. Only then can we move from a position of safeguarding to a position of advocating. While we need to keep children safe, that goes without saying, we also need to consider the impacts of not allowing them to play in ways which offer challenge and risk. Let us know what you think?

If you would like to contribute to this dialogue around play and rights, or any other topic around research with children and Early Years, please consider our Research & Practice Seminar on Friday 13th April 2018 in Croke Park, Dublin. If you think that you have a possible research paper to include for our research & practice day, or you would like to know more about the topics and themes for 2018, please click here for more details. 

For more about research have a look at our previous posts on the topic!
Why? How? What?… Researchers in Early Years settings

Studying enquiring minds – the challenges of early childhood practice research


Kathleen Tuite holds an MA in Early Childhood Studies and works for Early Childhood Ireland as an Early Childhood Specialist. Kathleen’s work includes offering advice, support and mentoring to Early Years Educators, teachers and students. Using the National Frameworks, Kathleen offers training across all areas of Early Years Practice and last year became a Marte Meo Colleague Trainer.
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