Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Little Buddies


Tuesday 26 March 2019

Evidence tells us that good mental health is essential for children to learn and achieve. By providing opportunities for young children, and the adults surrounding them, to develop the strengths and coping skills that underpin resilience early learning and care settings can help their children (and staff) flourish and succeed.

​To be effective, the ethos of whole-preschool, positive mental health should be a thread running through a preschool’s values and mission statement and be prominent across policies, procedures and practices, in line with national frameworks such as Siolta and Aistear.

A whole-preschool approach is about developing a positive ethos and culture – where everyone feels that they belong. It involves working with families and making sure that the whole preschool community is welcoming, inclusive and respectful. It means maximising children’s learning through promoting good mental health and well-being across the preschool – through the curriculum, early support for children, staff-child relationships, leadership and a commitment from everybody.

Little Buddies Early Years for Courage and Resilience is a children’s mental health programme that is positive, innovative, original and engaging. The Little Buddies programme promotes emotional resilience and mental well-being through supporting the core competencies of empathy, creativity, self-awareness and communication. 

​In summary, the programme consists of:

1). A 45 min interactive workshop with role play, games and discussion

2). A copy of their own interactive workbook to use in preschool and at home

3). Individual self tools around emotional wellness


Young children take delight in the story in the workbook, told with the help of our four furry animal friends who interact with a bench and a child:

  • Kin, the thoughtful clever fox
  • Elfe, the very emotional and caring squirrel
  • Red, the robin who is so courageous and just loves his nest
  • Neeke, the monkey who is very different and so very, very proud of the fact


Each animal represents a thought, a feeling or an emotion and we discuss how to recognise and cope. It is open ended story allowing free will of the children’s imagination. 

This workshop is be centred on “Sam Builds A Nest” a care box for Courage and Resilience which is based on  the interaction between friends Red the Robin and a child called Sam . This interaction teaches children about change, transition and courage.  Friends help children feel safe and we all need kindness to grow. 

 Each setting receives a:

1) Sam Builds A Nest Care Box for Courage and Resilience
2) A Little Buddy Bench
3) Resource information pack for staff


The Buddy Bench 

We use the Buddy Bench as a symbolic visual tool to help children to identify and express their feelings.  The programme releases the stigma of asking for help and celebrates children who act with compassion, kindness and empathy. We deliver a Buddy Bench on the same day as the workshop.

The programme has undergone a positive preliminary evaluation by researchers in the National Centre for Mental Health Maynooth University, a full evaluation has now begun (funded by Irish Research Council) in order to provide proof of its effectiveness. Once this formal endorsement is in place, it is ready for national rollout.



Samantha Synnott

After teaching adults and young people ICT skills for many years, I discovered two of my passions, education and how it can bring about change in people’s lives especially in young people. After my daughter was born, education and the gift of, became even more important, I developed a great interest in social and emotional intelligence.

 In 2013 I attended Waterford Institute of Technology and received a certificate in Digital Marketing & Communications, after which I set up Sm4solutions. Working alongside S.M.E.'s and Start-Ups, providing them with powerful and profitable on-line presence. I advised and managed several different clients’ social media accounts and campaigns. My work ethic has always been forward thinking, customer concentric marketing, analytic, strategic, technically savvy and Innovative.

In 2014 I did a Post-Grad in Innovation, Design Ideation with the Innovation Academy, University College Dublin where I learned the skills of identifying problems and then the solution. At this time due to a personal experience I identified a very obvious void in our Educational system. Alongside my business partner Judith Ashton and a marvellous team, Buddy Bench was formed in April 2016. We have developed school-based child-led positive mental health programmes that promote emotional resilience and mental well-being, through supporting the core competencies of empathy, creativity, self-awareness and communication. Using a brightly coloured bench placed in a school yard as a visual tool.

I believe children deserve the best possible education and should be encouraged towards the highest academic standards they are capable of. However, academic and emotional educations are not mutually exclusive and they are not opposed to one another. They must, crucially, work in tandem if children and young people are to benefit from a truly excellent school experience.

7 comments Comments

7 Responses

  1. Hi Just wondering how do you book these workshops and do ye travel across the country ie cork

  2. Helena Kelly says:

    Grace Murphy, St Kevins FRC Childcare
    Love the concept of this programme, can`t wait to hear more about delivery , cost and timeframe for implementation

  3. Georgina Barry says:

    how would we book the work shops

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

june29(1) Horizon 2020(1) Leargas(1) Engineers Week(2) Technology(3) coronavirus(1) Mud kitchens(1) Treasure Chest(1) peer group(1) Titles(1) Drawing(2) ERASMUS+(3) apps for children(1) staying connected(1) STEM(3) Bereavement(2) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Grief(1) Reggio Children Network(1) planning(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Mount Everest(1) christmas(9) Book Review(1) European Project(1) bonds(1) Wrapping paper(1) Snakes(1) Autism(4) democracy(1) Covid response(2) conference(1) Large Doll Play(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) National Awards 2019(1) social media policy(1) Competent(1) Light table(1) Opportunities(1) Exploring(1) Maths Week(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) outdoor play(6) Party(1) Exercise(1) Meal time(1) Teamwork(1) IGL(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) listening(1) Empathy(1) education system(1) early years settings(1) Human Resources(1) Dance(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Running(1) Childhood(1) Belonging(3) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Engagement(1) Story(2) Seas Suas(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) Participation(2) science(3) Vertical grouping(1) Valentine's Day(3) Super Shed Stories(2) Decision Making(1) maternity health(1) Proceedings Journal(1) Loving Relationships(2) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Wesco(1) UN(1) iOS(1) Engineering Ireland(1) ECEC(3) Biting(1) Our Little Seed(1) Looking Forward(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) story time(2) Inspections(1) Stress(2) Growing up in Ireland(3) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Storytelling(7) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Malaguzzi(1) Siolta blog(8) Budget 2019(2) Counting(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Masterclass(2) Obesity(1) early childhood(1) Kerry(1) keezy(1) EECERA 2016(1) Wonder(1) dogs(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Quality(4) Síolta QAP(1) School Age Childcare(1) Meet the Members(1) Shapes(2) Halloween(2) Workforce(1) Montessori(3) Awards 2018(3) SPICE Framework(1) UNICEF report(1) art of the relationship(1) Adoption(1) National Holiday(1) Covid pandemic(2) Performance Management(1) Identity(5) Annual Conference 2017(2) Time Out(1) Gardening(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Jenga(1) Graduation(1) Independence(1) Music(3) Inter-generational learning(2) DCYA(6) Childcare(3) Certificate(1) imotion(1) documentation(4) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) Trigonometry(1) Equality(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) E.coli(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) CPD(1) Patterns(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) structure(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Seanchaí(1) keep in touch(1) Map(1) AIM(2) Traditions(2) Glitter(2) Pobal sector profile(1) social science(1) Children's Voice(1) World Health Organisation(1) early years learning(1) Magnavacchi(1) Norway(2) Supernanny(1) annual awards(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Eritrea(1) Staff Motivation(1) Building Resilience(1) primary education(1) Children and families(1) Maria Montessori(1) Wendy Lee(3) curiosity(3) Document Learning(1) Plastic(1) Potential(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Reggio(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Self-Esteem(1) scéalta(55) TRAP(1) Thanks(1) respect(5) International Narratives(1) Iceland(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Frosty the Snowman(1) Well-Being(10) Study Trip(1) Care-giving routines(1) friendships(1) behavioural science(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Inclusion(3) Inter-generational(2) Vietnam(1) Positivity(1) First 5(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Primary School(3) Flowers(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Pen green(1) Nonverbal(1) conversations(1) Motor neuron disease(1) gender bias(1) Book Club(2) Change(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) risk assessment(1) journey(1) RTE Investigates(1) Infectious diseases(1) Online(1) Cork(1) Leadership(1) Imagination(3) Playdough(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Visual Impairment(1) Socioemotional development(1) Your place(1) Gratitude(1) Feeding(1) Syria(1) Learning Story Awards(2) animals(2) Anxiety(2) Department of Education and Skills(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) MA(1) research(6) Online Research Symposium(1) Brain(1) multi-generational community(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Academic Skills(1) child-centric(1) Return to Work Training(1) Learning through Storytelling(1) Pedagogy(2) Buddy Bench(1) Role play(1) Budget 2020(1) Spiders(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) refugees(1) DES Inspection(1) Challenges(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) National Annual Awards 2020(1) Settling in(4) Impact(1) AsIAm(2) Touch(1) Albert Einstein(1) Laughter(1) Advocacy(1) Awards Night(1) Magic(1) Environment(2) educating(1) Looking Back(1) Awards 2019(1) Loss(1) Decisions(1) Rich Documentation(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Social Skills(1) gender stereotype(1) show and tell(1) Sport(1) Qualifications(1) democratic citizens(1) RIE philosphy(1) outdoor space(3) mental health problems(1) pablo(1) Through the looking glass(1) UD(1) healthy eating policies(1) College(1) Photographs(1) reopening(1) learning(19) Time(1) Games(1) San Miniato(4) Thinking(1) Maternity Leave(1) Sustainable(1) Art(6) Learning Story(1) learners(1) ECEC Setting(2) overhear(1) Love(3) Iraq(1) phone apps(1) Creative(1) books(4) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Digital Devices(1) Design(1) Graduate(1) Sleep(1) Funding(1) child-centred approach(1) Scents(1) Exit interview(1) listen(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Ariana Pucci(1) responsive relationships(1) dining experiences(1) collaboration(1) Interactions(3) budget(1) Arithmetic(1) risky play(2) Degree(1) Recycle(1) Early Years Education(1) Sessional service(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Event Guide(1) Research Conference 2019(1) learning hub(1) purpose(1) Traffic Lights(1) Anthony Semann(1) Appreciation(1) Arts(1) communication(4) Self-regulation(1) aistear blog(3) Arlene Forster(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Support(1) Irish guidelines(1) role playing(1) Mathematicians(1) Mindfulness(3) Laugh(1) pets(1) Health(2) Mixed age groups(3) CCTV(1) Interests(1) emotional well-being(1) racism(1) trust(4) Kids Own(1) curriculum(5) Child Care(1) Penguins(1) outdoors(4) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) supportive environments(2) Death(2) CIT(1) Identity and Belonging(4) preschool(4) Oireachtas(1) Limerick(1) Inspiring Practice(1) Sculptures(1) Breathing(2) Capable(1) play(35) relationships(18) Academics(1) United Nations(1) NCCA(3) blog(52) Facebook(1) value(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Santa(2) Professionalisation(5) Orla Kenny(1) Communications(1) interacting(2) environments(1) Trade union(1) family time(1) worries(1) Margy Whalley(1) Scéalta Blog(104) Confident(1) Exploratory Play(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Whole Group(1) Policy(2) play pod(1) Early Years(1) ICBN(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Smiles(1) Pobal(1) GDPR(1) man up(1) Painting(1) ECCE(7) Exclusion(1) eating(1) preschool settings(1) Japan(1) Small World Play(1) Fee Play(1) Plants(1) Pre-School Services(1) inspiring interactions(1) Family(1) Research Seminar(1) Mayo(1) ReCreate(2) Exploring and Thinking(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Recycling(2) Reggio Emilia(2) The Lullaby Book(1) Little Buddies(1) INTO(1) Training(2) community(5) Interaction(1) Window(1) Administrative Burden(1) Frustrations(1) Celebrations(4) Digital(1) grandchild(1) children development(1) dining(1) Buddies(1) Ceremony(1) Fabric(1) Afghanistan(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) meals(3) HR(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) play therapy(1) Mental Health(4) Yoga(1) Trade Unions(1) Thank you(1) dublin(2) Early Learning and Care(1) mushrooms(1) First 5 strategy(1) Craft(1) Reflective Practice(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) bloom app(1) Liz Kerrins(1) early life(1) Behaviour(3) transitions(10) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Aistear(130) Fantasy play(1) Nutrition(1) Early Childhood Education(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) New Appointments(1) Winter(1) Queues(1) Celebrate(1) Family wall(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) ears(1) baby room(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Upcycling(1) Summer(1) Care routines(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Favouritism(1) Sequins(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Creativity(6) Together Old and Young Programme(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Employee(1) Line-ups(1) Confidence(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Early Years Educators(3) ECIAwards20(1) Diversity(1) youdoodle(1) Giraffe(2) experience(1) ELC(1) TOY Programme(1) Trick or treat(1) Xbox(1) Rituals(1) movement behaviours(1) Mealtimes(1) Home Corner(1) Budget 2018(1) Investment(2) Relaxation(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Infection Control(1) annual conference(1) Maynooth University(2) educarer(1) Prexit(1) childcare services(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Awards(2) early childhood educator(2) babies(7) Learning Journal(2) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Workplace Relations(3) parents(6) Easter(1) Reading Time(1) Intention(1) Culture(2) Self Help Skills(1) routine(2) Pretend Play(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) online training(1) emotional environment(2) children’s learning(1) University(1) Leprechauns(1) risk(2) Cognitive development(1) research submissions(1) Children's Rights(3) Children's Research Network(1) Body Language(1) COVID-19(14) Special Needs Assistants(1) Snacks(1) Kindness Challenge(1) Treasure(1) Educators(2) EM Standing(1) Leaders in Practice(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Síolta(136) Affordability(1) PIP(1) food(1) code of ethics(1) life long learning(1) awards 2020(1) Routines(2) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Inspirational(2) Lego(2) creche(1) NAEYC(1) Sweets(1) learning bias(1) Consent(1) Learning journals(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Magda Gerber(1) Twitter(1) playleader(1) Shoes(1) continual professional development(1) toddlers(3) Kindness(1) Weather(1) SAC(1) Mo Scéal(1) linc(1) Maynooth(1) Snack Time(1) science week(2) Engineering(3) Communicating(1) EECERA(1) Italy(1) play stories(2) UNCRC(2) Mark Twain(1) memories(1) outdoor environment(1) development(8) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Community involvement(1) Workplace well-being(1) Irish(1) Kilkenny(1) under 3's(3) Universal Design(2) Performing(1) emotions(2) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) MECPI(1) The Jelly King(1) Builders(1) Sustainability(3) Blocks(1) Wilenski(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) developing motor skills(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Maths(6) reading(5) feisty(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) lockdown(1) early years research(2) Learning Stories(9) Names(1) Children(4) National Awards 2018(2) social media(2) play pods(2) Tuscan Approach(2) Playschool(1) Child mental health(1) Mantra(1) Elders(1) Youtube Series(1) Visitors(1) education(2) reopening ireland(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) stories(3)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine