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:

Affordability(1) iOS(1) San Miniato(4) trust(3) Access and Inclusion Model(2) science(3) Ariana Pucci(1) Bereavement(2) New Appointments(1) Meal time(1) refugees(1) journey(1) meals(3) Snacks(1) play(32) UNCRC(1) environments(1) Body Language(1) Smiles(1) dining(1) Light table(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) curiosity(3) Inspections(1) Exit interview(1) apps for children(1) Socioemotional development(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Arlene Forster(1) First 5(1) Children and families(1) Recycling(2) Painting(1) early years research(2) Síolta QAP(1) Brain(1) Community involvement(1) College(1) gender stereotype(1) risk(2) Independence(1) Magnavacchi(1) Communications(1) Mud kitchens(1) Running(1) Mayo(1) UN(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Exclusion(1) Trigonometry(1) Sculptures(1) Administrative Burden(1) outdoor space(3) research submissions(1) Afghanistan(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Primary School(2) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Line-ups(1) Qualifications(1) Leargas(1) Frustrations(1) Learning Story(1) Loss(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) MA(1) Settling in(4) Scéalta Book Review(1) Decisions(1) Infectious diseases(1) Thanks(1) Through the looking glass(1) ECEC(2) Growing up in Ireland(3) Interests(1) Mealtimes(1) Child mental health(1) stories(2) keezy(1) grandchild(1) collaboration(1) Yoga(1) code of ethics(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) ECEC Setting(1) Trade union(1) dining experiences(1) Maternity Leave(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) memories(1) Home Corner(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Prexit(1) Infection Control(1) Culture(2) Digital(1) Sustainability(3) Valerie Gaynor(1) Cognitive development(1) pablo(1) outdoor play(6) Mental Health(3) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) CIT(1) Challenges(1) Universal Design(2) Xbox(1) National Holiday(1) Stress(2) Ceremony(1) Mo Scéal(1) conference(1) linc(1) story time(2) ERASMUS+(3) youdoodle(1) education(2) Confident(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Japan(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Care-giving routines(1) Queues(1) Exploring(1) CPD(1) Relaxation(1) Children's Voice(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) ECCE(7) budget(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Annual Conference 2019(1) Technology(3) Twitter(1) Traditions(2) parents(6) Window(1) Giraffe(2) Laughter(1) Snakes(1) University(1) Research Seminar(1) Mount Everest(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Wonder(1) Summer(1) Academics(1) Builders(1) under 3's(3) purpose(1) Advocacy(1) eating(1) Fabric(1) blog(28) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) friendships(1) Event Guide(1) Iceland(1) Rich Documentation(1) Scéalta Blog(94) Reflective Practice(1) Family wall(1) Quality(4) Interaction(1) Limerick(1) Super Shed Stories(1) Grief(1) Adoption(1) Identity and Belonging(4) aistear blog(3) United Nations(1) Book Club(2) Norway(2) Creativity(4) Party(1) Recycle(1) animals(2) Positivity(1) Spiders(1) Italy(1) Wilenski(1) Malaguzzi(1) Thinking(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Workforce(1) Support(1) Interactions(2) Tuscan Approach(2) outdoors(3) Photographs(1) Treasure Chest(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Masterclass(2) Obesity(1) Kids Own(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Breathing(2) continual professional development(1) Engagement(1) learners(1) Arithmetic(1) Buddy Bench(1) Research Conference 2019(1) experience(1) Time Out(1) NCCA(3) Research and Professional Learning(1) Self-Esteem(1) Learning journals(1) Empathy(1) Fee Play(1) Funding(1) child-centred approach(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Playdough(1) Montessori(3) Leprechauns(1) transitions(10) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) CCTV(1) EM Standing(1) early years learning(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Investment(2) Inter-generational learning(2) Titles(1) Flowers(1) HR(1) ears(1) Magic(1) Environment(2) Building Resilience(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Educators(2) Syria(1) Behaviour(3) MECPI(1) feisty(1) INTO(1) dogs(1) educating(1) Engineering(3) learning bias(1) Role play(1) Elders(1) Mathematicians(1) Visitors(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Little Buddies(1) books(4) Touch(1) Time(1) Inclusion(3) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Jenga(1) Autism(3) Valentine's Day(3) Lego(2) bloom app(1) Certificate(1) Performing(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) conversations(1) RIE philosphy(1) awards 2020(1) imotion(1) relationships(17) Design(1) Visual Impairment(1) Routines(1) Diversity(1) play stories(1) National Awards 2018(2) value(1) ReCreate(2) Early Learning and Care(1) Sequins(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) behavioural science(1) AsIAm(1) Mantra(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Imagination(3) Annual Conference 2017(2) Treasure(1) Trick or treat(1) Health(2) Plants(1) Belonging(3) Shapes(1) Vertical grouping(1) Intention(1) E.coli(1) Awards Night(1) communication(4) Laugh(1) Care routines(1) Staff Motivation(1) Music(3) Mark Twain(1) reading(5) Human Resources(1) early childhood educator(1) Sessional service(1) Confidence(1) Study Trip(1) Professionalisation(5) Wrapping paper(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Potential(1) Policy(2) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Whole Group(1) documentation(3) Rising to the Challenge(2) routine(2) The Lullaby Book(1) National Awards 2019(1) man up(1) science week(2) Mindfulness(2) community(5) Feeding(1) Blocks(1) Teamwork(1) Games(1) IGL(1) EECERA 2016(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Biting(1) Snack Time(1) interacting(2) Maynooth University(1) Pobal(1) Sweets(1) COVID-19(1) Celebrations(4) curriculum(5) Budget 2018(1) scéalta(30) Early Years(1) maternity health(1) Our Little Seed(1) Maths Week(1) respect(5) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Appreciation(1) Identity(5) RTE Investigates(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Learning Stories(9) Map(1) Exercise(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Graduation(1) Winter(1) Performance Management(1) Rituals(1) European Project(1) risky play(2) Glitter(2) Capable(1) baby room(1) Traffic Lights(1) Engineering Ireland(1) School Age Childcare(1) Sleep(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Irish(1) learning(19) Maria Montessori(1) risk assessment(1) Buddies(1) Plastic(1) Impact(1) Early Years Educators(3) Social Skills(1) ICBN(1) UD(1) Workplace Relations(3) educarer(1) Aistear(116) Sustainable(1) preschool settings(1) Motor neuron disease(1) mushrooms(1) Supernanny(1) Dance(1) Patterns(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Story(1) role playing(1) research(6) Siolta blog(7) Awards 2018(3) Children's Research Network(1) Eritrea(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Nutrition(1) NAEYC(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Maths(5) Hand Hygiene(1) Decision Making(1) Oireachtas(1) emotional environment(1) Wendy Lee(3) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Shoes(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Trade Unions(1) preschool(3) Meet the Members(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Reggio(1) Storytelling(5) Arts(1) Weather(1) Facebook(1) Workplace well-being(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Awards(2) Margy Whalley(1) Inspirational(2) gender bias(1) Change(1) Art(6) Children(3) Craft(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) social science(1) Employee(1) The Jelly King(1) Iraq(1) Albert Einstein(1) Scents(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Creative(1) Santa(2) Inter-generational(2) Jillian van Turnhout(1) DES Inspection(1) Horizon 2020(1) emotions(2) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Names(1) annual conference(1) Youtube Series(1) Cork(1) planning(1) Reading Time(1) Children's Rights(3) Document Learning(1) Fantasy play(1) TRAP(1) Playschool(1) Well-Being(9) Educator of the Year Award(3) Self-regulation(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Online(1) worries(1) Sport(1) Drawing(2) Book Review(1) Self Help Skills(1) supportive environments(2) dublin(2) listening(1) Engineers Week(2) Academic Skills(1) TOY Programme(1) Gardening(1) GDPR(1) Digital Devices(1) Vietnam(1) Favouritism(1) Magda Gerber(1) Mixed age groups(2) Thank you(1) AIM(2) Budget 2019(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) social media(1) Leadership(1) Learning Journal(1) DCYA(4) Gratitude(1) Halloween(2) Kilkenny(1) Reggio Children Network(1) listen(1) pets(1) STEM(3) Childhood(1) food(1) PIP(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Childcare(2) Maynooth(1) babies(7) Kerry(1) Celebrate(1) Family(1) Training(2) Anxiety(2) Nonverbal(1) Competent(1) life long learning(1) toddlers(3) Upcycling(1) Orla Kenny(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Seas Suas(1) SPICE Framework(1) Wesco(1) Penguins(1) First 5 strategy(1) christmas(9) overhear(1) Graduate(1) Awards 2019(1) bonds(1) Síolta(110) Death(2) phone apps(1) Budget 2020(1) Pen green(1) Love(2) Easter(1) Degree(1) Communicating(1) development(8) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Consent(1) Participation(2)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine