Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Getting to know you


Tuesday 04 September 2018

Now that the initial new year busyness is easing, the ‘new’ children are settling in and parents are a bit less anxious about letting their little ones off to embark on a new journey.  We think about building a community in the preschool and we know that it takes more than a few weeks of settling in. Getting to know the children, what their interests are, what their temperaments are, what their dispositions are, takes longer. Of course, a good settling in policy helps, taking the time to get to know parents and to ensure that parents know that you want, indeed need, to find out as much as you can about their child, so you can provide the best possible experience for all the children.  In this blog, we will look at ways to develop this further, so we can enrich these experiences even more.

Many settings use ‘getting to know you’ or ‘Eolas faoi do paiste’ forms to find out more about children. These can be a great way to find out about a child’s interests and dispositions. It is important however, to ask relevant questions and to explain to parents the purpose of the form. Keep it simple and short and positive. You may need to translate the form for parents who do not read the language of your setting.

Learning journals/ individual portfolios are a key way of showing how we know children, how tuned in we are to them. Wendy Lee speaks about educators collecting information on what interests children have before joining the setting. For example, a parent identified their child’s interest in tractors. Wendy sees this on the form and says to the educator, “So, when I open this child’s journal, I will see something about tractors”. If the child’s interests are not featured, then we are not using information fully to meet children’s needs.

Using this information means we are really getting to know children and will prevent us making assumptions about children. I was recently talking to a little boy aged 5, both his parents are Lithuanian, but he was born in Ireland. I made a comment about Cork hurling and he didn’t know what I meant, from his response it was clear he identified more as Lithuanian, rather than Irish. I recently read about a child who spoke Spanish as his first language and the staff in his setting assumed he was from Spain…he was in fact from Argentina! If we do not ask questions we can make assumptions like this that can hamper the way we work with children and families.

A family wall is a great way of helping children bridge the transition between home and preschool. A family wall is created by displaying photos of children and their families. Laminating the photos before putting them on the wall makes them more durable. Use velcro tape so children can take photos down. It is important that the photos are displayed at the child’s level. The Equality and Diversity Guidelines (DCYA 2016) says “The family wall is an active tool as well as a form of identity support and comfort. It should be an ongoing feature of the curriculum and not just part of a theme. Children and parents should be able to add to it according as events unfold during the year.” If wall space is limited the same benefits can be achieved by sticking photos of parents, siblings, pets and other significant people on small cube shaped boxes and covering with clear ‘contact’. Alternatively, photo albums with these precious photos can be created. Explain the purpose of the family wall when parents are registering their child and encourage them to provide a selection of photos. It may be more convenient for parents to email them.

In some settings, educators ask children to draw their family early in the year and the educator writes the names of family members over each figure. This is a good way of knowing the family structure and any pets that are in the family (apart from the information on the registration forms). They ask the children to repeat this exercise at the end of the year and the progression in their ability to represent or draw is obvious.

The activities done in the early days in the setting can link to the end of year activities also. For example, using children’s handprints in their personal portfolio or learning journal. With activities like this it is, of course, important that children are active participants and that the children who don’t like messy activities are not forced to take part. Repeating the activity at the end of the year gives children a sense of how much they have grown.

In September one setting asked children to draw a picture of what they want to be when they grow up -they draw and the educators write a description of what they drew.  Typically, they want to be princesses and superheroes.  As the year goes on there is lots of discussion about jobs and careers, and visits from parents and other people in the community.  At the end of the year the children are again asked to draw what they would like to be when they grow up. Children now have a much broader concept of the different jobs and careers they can aspire to – doctors, scientists, architects, engineers etc.  

These kinds of documentation can be added at the beginning and end of the children’s individual journals, and are a nice way of linking the beginning of the year to the ending. They are also a great way to get children to reflect on their own learning.

Slowing down in our interactions with children really helps us tune in to hear and see what makes them tick. When we become caught up in the routine and our adult-led plans we can miss what children know, what engages them, and what they would like us to know.

If you have examples of how you tune in to children please contact us - we can share them on Facebook and on our website!



Máire Corbett is an Early Childhood Specialist at Early Childhood Ireland. She trained in Montessori teaching and has completed an MA in Integrated Provision for Children and Families with the University of Leicester, at Pen Green.

Visiting member settings inspires me as I see the passion and energy educators put into providing great experiences for the children in their settings. I love seeing competent children at play! 

3 comments Comments

3 Responses

  1. Sinead Mc Glacken says:

    A very insightful blog Máire and timely. Educators who wish to know more about the Family Wall project can find it in chapter 9 of the wonderful book by Colette Murray and Mathias Urban (2012) Diversity and Equality in Early Childhood an Irish Perspective. Happy reading! 😊 🌟

  2. Sinead Mc Glacken says:

    … and I think the story so beautifully told of the little Spanish speaking child from Argentina may be found on p. 147 of the same book by Colette Murray and Mathias Urban (2012) Diversity and Equality in Early Childhood an Irish Perspective. Well worth a read! 😊 🌟

  3. Maire Corbett says:

    Thanks Sinead, I appreciate you reminding me where I heard that story! And I agree, Diversity and Equality in Early Childhood is a really useful book.

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

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


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine