Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

An irresistible invitation to learn

By: CAITRIONA COONEY

Tuesday 11 December 2018

At this time of year, we can get caught up in making and doing and performances. The sentiments in this post apply all year, but this is a timely reminder of the importance of getting silly, the value of laughter and having fun!

I recently attended the Cork Autism Conference and listened with wonder and awe to the speakers, especially Gina Davies, speech and language therapist, Attention Autism Programme. Gina’s talk inspired me to go back to my playschool and discuss it with my colleague Laudine. This talk was relevant to every child, not just those with autism. If we could create an atmosphere like Gina described in our playschool, all our children would benefit in so many ways.

Here are a few of the ideas from Gina’s talk that inspired us:

  • Learning about the world should be because we want to rather than an act of compliance.
  • We want our children to develop a love of learning.
  • We want to have mutual sharing between educator and child.
  • We want to give the children an irresistible invitation to learn.
  • Boredom is very stressful – it makes children want to break the rules and misbehave.
  • We want to make the work fascinating!

So how do we do this? Well, be playful, make it worth the effort and LAUGH!

The laughter is an integral part of the model – laughter builds relationships, improves social skills, contributes to well-being and to good mental health. Gina said “When things get tough, don’t get serious – get silly”!! So now we had the theory, all we had to do was put it into practice. This was not difficult at all. After all, we had a great group of little boys and girls who just adored laughing. Gina told us that the average child laughs 200 times a day and our children were no exception.

One thing we very quickly learned was that when we, the educators, were happy and relaxed and not afraid to laugh, it became infectious and everyone was going around with a smile on their faces. One example is playing in the autumn leaves. Our playschool is out in the country with lots of big trees. Every October, the children spend many happy hours playing in the leaves. But this year was the best fun ever because not only did the children have fun but also the educators and even the parents joined in and everyone laughed together. Such a feeling of joy and happiness radiated from the children and the adults. Nobody wanted to go home – they were all having way too much fun.
We had squeals of delight and unbridled joy as everyone jumped and swam, buried each other, played monsters, made it rain leaves, played “leaf tag” – I could go on and on. Playing in the leaves was an irresistible invitation to learn.

So what did the children learn? They learned to play together, to respect each other’s space, not to be too rough or hurt anyone. They learned to recognise other children’s wishes – not everyone likes to be buried in leaves but some can’t get enough of it! They learned to run, jump, wriggle, throw, they used their arms and legs in all sorts of imaginative ways. They learned to make-believe, role-play, communicate with each other and the adults. They learned about autumn in the process and in a much more fun and meaningful way than sticking leaves on a sheet inside.

Laudine remembered another example of how the children provided their own irresistible invitation to learn. She was in the vegetable garden with some children. At this time of year, the vegetables have been harvested and the garden is just for digging in. Some boys were digging trenches, finding worms and treasure, chatting and laughing and really working up a sweat.

There was a pile of sticks by the hedge which had been used to stake the peas last summer. One boy stuck the sticks into the clay, saying “I’m making a forest”. Earlier that week we had walked to a local wood called Rahin Wood. For the next few days the children could be heard chatting and laughing about how they were planting Rahin Wood and all the fun they were having. “Don’t knock down Rahin Wood”, Laudine heard Shane laugh! These children were learning about their world because they wanted to. Their work was fascinating, they loved what they were doing and there was mutual sharing between educator and children.

Another example of this irresistible invitation to learn was gathering the THOUSANDS of apples during storm Ali. Everyone worked together while singing our autumn songs. A really easy way to learn songs amid a lot of laughing and joy, and a huge sense of achievement.

Returning briefly to what inspired me to provide these opportunities for our children. Another inspirational speaker at the autism conference, Dr. Luke Beardon, talked about how children with Autism have unbelievable senses and can experience sheer joy in processing. In his opinion, this can be mistaken for a sensory dysfunction and neurotypical people cannot have empathy with what it is like. Giving our typically developing children the opportunity to experience their world in a highly sensory and hands-on way can go a long way to help them feel this sense of joy, and in the long run learn to empathise with their peers who have autism. Observing our children at play demonstrates the truth of what Gina said – how being playful is certainly worth the effort, and this enables children to develop a love of learning for life. Learning is a process, not a result and we must value that process.

When adults are enthusiastic, involved and value the process they inspire curiosity in children and learning becomes automatic. They are given an irresistible invitation to learn.

Most important of all – we have all learned to value laughter!

 

Caitriona Cooney, Happy Days, Kinnegad

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Pobal(1) Care-giving routines(1) SAC(1) Irish(1) Sport(1) Belonging(3) Research Conference 2019(1) Sessional service(1) CPD(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Rituals(1) friendships(1) Adoption(1) Support(1) family time(1) social science(1) Change(1) InspireMe.ie(1) Margy Whalley(1) RIE philosphy(1) keep in touch(1) Autism(4) Fantasy play(1) Community involvement(1) Document Learning(1) Nonverbal(1) Affordability(1) Malaguzzi(1) Inclusion(3) Empathy(1) christmas(9) Syria(1) child-centric(1) Playdough(1) Síolta QAP(1) Thank you(1) Favouritism(1) play stories(2) University(1) Design(1) childcare services(1) annual conference(1) Children's Rights(3) TOY Programme(1) Santa(2) Maria Montessori(1) Leargas(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Shoes(1) code of professional responsibility(1) New Appointments(1) Communicating(1) PIP(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Orla Kenny(1) animals(2) Trade Unions(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Patterns(1) Confident(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) COVID-19 Reopening(1) Appreciation(1) Names(1) Mealtimes(1) bloom app(1) Wrapping paper(1) Halloween(2) Engineering Ireland(1) structure(1) Summer(1) Queues(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Administrative Burden(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) DES Inspection(1) Oireachtas(1) Children(4) Graduation(1) learning bias(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Time Out(1) Our Little Seed(1) linc(1) Shapes(1) staying connected(1) Aistear(122) ELC(1) child-centred approach(1) Siolta blog(8) Learning journals(1) Frustrations(1) Trick or treat(1) Death(2) Arts(1) Ceremony(1) science week(2) Japan(1) Sculptures(1) Norway(2) Employee(1) Rich Documentation(1) Capable(1) National Pyjama Day(1) STEM(3) Quality(4) books(4) Access and Inclusion Model(2) First 5 strategy(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Mount Everest(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Pedagogy(1) listen(1) Xbox(1) june29(1) Plants(1) grandchild(1) Laugh(1) Cognitive development(1) Research Seminar(1) Training(2) Covid19 crisis(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) HR(1) Craft(1) Biting(1) educating(1) collaboration(1) Montessori(3) Mud kitchens(1) Decisions(1) MECPI(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Maths Week(1) Body Language(1) story time(2) worries(1) Eritrea(1) outdoors(3) National Awards 2018(2) value(1) Reflective Practice(1) Sequins(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Early Years(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Engineers Week(2) EM Standing(1) Mental Health(3) Investment(2) Loss(1) Settling in(4) Time(1) Infectious diseases(1) Inspirational(2) Certificate(1) Educators(2) youdoodle(1) Sweets(1) Ariana Pucci(1) iOS(1) social media(1) Flowers(1) Facebook(1) apps for children(1) Reading Time(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Síolta(118) Children's Voice(1) Social Skills(1) Magda Gerber(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Reggio(1) Budget 2019(2) Sleep(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Identity(5) Spiders(1) Thanks(1) Learning Stories(9) Little Buddies(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) pets(1) Children and families(1) Plastic(1) Creativity(4) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) eating(1) Recycle(1) NCCA(3) Scéalta Blog(99) experience(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Consent(1) Map(1) Line-ups(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Potential(1) Winter(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) bonds(1) Intention(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Italy(1) keezy(1) Horizon 2020(1) Imagination(3) Anxiety(2) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Trade union(1) Participation(2) Painting(1) Treasure(1) outdoor space(3) ears(1) Role play(1) Maynooth(1) Buddy Bench(1) Maternity Leave(1) Digital(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) risky play(2) Photographs(1) Self-Esteem(1) Trigonometry(1) Learning Journal(2) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Traffic Lights(1) Infection Control(1) COVID-19(5) Deirdre Rogers(1) ECEC(2) Stress(2) Music(3) refugees(1) emotions(2) Party(1) Self-regulation(1) Light table(1) community(5) educarer(1) Sustainability(3) Child Care(1) Teamwork(1) Snakes(1) behavioural science(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) COVID-19 crisis(1) DCYA(4) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) mushrooms(1) Event Guide(1) blog(35) Laughter(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Drawing(2) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Wesco(1) Snacks(1) Lego(2) early years research(2) Diversity(1) Inter-generational(2) Giraffe(2) Brain(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Universal Design(2) Story(1) UN(1) routine(2) National Holiday(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) ERASMUS+(3) Mixed age groups(2) play therapy(1) Fee Play(1) man up(1) ICBN(1) Book Review(1) budget(1) feisty(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Online(1) Valentine's Day(3) Magnavacchi(1) Cork(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Socioemotional development(1) Equality(1) baby room(1) Love(2) Relaxation(1) Budget 2020(1) Reggio Emilia(1) continual professional development(1) Positivity(1) Care routines(1) Feeding(1) Learning Stories Award(3) United Nations(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Performing(1) Family(1) life long learning(1) Dance(1) memories(1) Vietnam(1) Behaviour(3) Decision Making(1) Limerick(1) Inspections(1) early childhood educator(2) Sociodramatic play(1) Pre-School Services(1) Degree(1) Yoga(1) Staff Motivation(1) AIM(2) parents(6) documentation(4) INTO(1) preschool settings(1) maternity health(1) Kilkenny(1) imotion(1) art of the relationship(1) Supernanny(1) purpose(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) MA(1) Whole Group(1) trust(4) healthy eating policies(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Builders(1) Nutrition(1) stories(3) dublin(2) Childcare(3) racism(1) Gratitude(1) Kids Own(1) Bereavement(2) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) conversations(1) Funding(1) dining experiences(1) Afghanistan(1) Well-Being(9) early years learning(1) Confidence(1) Art(6) early life(1) IGL(1) children development(1) UNCRC(2) Academics(1) Magic(1) Challenges(1) movement behaviours(1) Wilenski(1) Routines(2) supportive environments(2) Iraq(1) Obesity(1) UD(1) Primary School(2) curriculum(5) First 5(1) journey(1) Smiles(1) Visitors(1) Learning Story(1) Titles(1) The Lullaby Book(1) environments(1) reading(5) respect(5) education(2) planning(1) Exploring(1) Blocks(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) gender stereotype(1) Meal time(1) National Awards 2019(1) learners(1) ECCE(7) Exercise(1) Child mental health(1) learning(19) Penguins(1) development(8) scéalta(38) Recycling(2) SPICE Framework(1) Easter(1) Sustainable(1) Leprechauns(1) emotional environment(2) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Mo Scéal(1) toddlers(3) Wendy Lee(3) Family wall(1) gender bias(1) Touch(1) Home Corner(1) dogs(1) Workplace Relations(3) Treasure Chest(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Technology(3) phone apps(1) Breathing(2) play pod(1) babies(7) EECERA 2016(1) Fabric(1) under 3's(3) Early Learning and Care(1) E.coli(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) GDPR(1) food(1) Competent(1) Mark Twain(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) interacting(2) play(34) Seas Suas(1) Your place(1) Qualifications(1) Academic Skills(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Youtube Series(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Book Club(2) Opportunities(1) science(3) aistear blog(3) ECEC Setting(2) GoToMeeting app(1) Covid pandemic(1) Impact(1) Mantra(1) risk assessment(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Independence(1) Twitter(1) Mayo(1) Mindfulness(2) Interactions(2) curiosity(3) Motor neuron disease(1) Pen green(1) role playing(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Elders(1) Arithmetic(1) Scents(1) Awards 2019(1) Self Help Skills(1) Awards Night(1) Buddies(1) transitions(10) Jillian van Turnhout(1) research submissions(1) research(6) Effect of Lockdown(1) Exit interview(1) primary education(1) Through the looking glass(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Upcycling(1) Professionalisation(5) Awards 2018(3) Window(1) Hand Hygiene(2) TRAP(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Mathematicians(1) Snack Time(1) Traditions(2) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) CIT(1) Vertical grouping(1) Awards(2) Celebrate(1) code of ethics(1) Glitter(2) Visual Impairment(1) Masterclass(2) San Miniato(4) The Jelly King(1) show and tell(1) Health(2) Engagement(1) Running(1) Weather(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Storytelling(6) Kerry(1) Exclusion(1) Albert Einstein(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Workplace well-being(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) reopening ireland(1) Early Years Educators(3) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Maynooth University(2) Engineering(3) communication(4) Children's Research Network(1) Performance Management(1) Prexit(1) preschool(4) Maths(5) developing motor skills(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) RTE Investigates(1) Meet the Members(1) Jenga(1) Games(1) Communications(1) Childhood(1) relationships(17) Department of Education and Skills(1) Workforce(1) overhear(1) Environment(2) Digital Devices(1) European Project(1) Culture(2) play pods(1) conference(1) NAEYC(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Celebrations(4) Special Needs Assistants(1) Interaction(1) Human Resources(1) CCTV(1) ReCreate(2) Nuturing interactions(1) Iceland(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Thinking(1) Leadership(1) Wonder(1) Early Childhood Ireland(3) risk(2) College(1) Creative(1) Playschool(1) Study Trip(1) Budget 2018(1) Building Resilience(1) Advocacy(1) Interests(1) Grief(1) awards 2020(1) dining(1) lockdown(1) Gardening(1) listening(1) AsIAm(2) outdoor play(6) School Age Childcare(1) meals(3) pablo(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Arlene Forster(1) Graduate(1) Policy(2)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine