Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Placing the Child at the Centre of Quality in Early Childhood and Primary Education

By: DR. CLAIRE REGAN AND DR. LEAH OTOOLE

Monday 20 April 2020

What does a high quality Early Childhood Educational setting look and feel like? What does ‘quality’ mean for a young child? Is this the same thing that is defined as ‘quality’ by the governmental institutions? Both of us recall that when our children were starting in Early Childhood Education this was a question that preoccupied us, mind, heart and soul, for many months. This was despite the fact that or maybe precisely because we are both psychologists and so we understand the fundamental importance of early life experiences and how they shape our future selves.

Discussions on what constitutes quality in early childhood education abound. There are few issues that are more emotive for parents of young children and Early Childhood educators. We know that good relationships with children and their families are fundamentally important, that play is key, and that we should embrace diversity and cherish difference. So why then have we got a “one size fits all” approach to assessment of quality in our Early Childhood Education and Care system? And why across Europe are we increasingly moving towards standardised testing with predefined outcomes which leave no room for difference and for children’s voices?

The increasing national and international focus on “accountability” and quantitative measurement of “quality” ignore some key aspects of quality that we know from both rigorous scientific research and from our gut instinct to be of the utmost importance: good relationships, inclusive environments and holistic learning. Why is this? Is it because “good” relationships are too hard to define and measure? Or because we’re not sure how to support practitioners to improve relationships when they are challenging? What does an inclusive ECEC environment actually look and feel like? When are we being truly holistic and thus maximising children’s learning across domains?

The THRIECE (Teaching for Holistic, Relational and Inclusive Early Childhood Education) project is an innovative, multidisciplinary Erasmus+ research project, coordinated by Marino Institute of Education, with partner institutions in Ireland, Poland and Portugal working together to try to answer some of these questions. We have partners across three levels of education: Higher Educational Institutions, Primary Schools and Early Childhood Educational settings.  We set out to draw on the expertise of all members of our project team, to use our multi-theoretical understanding of children in context, of developmental psychology, of personality formation and of education and pedagogy, to propose an alternative view of what constitutes quality early childhood education. We believe that understandings of learning and quality in Early Childhood and Primary Education should be based on three pillars:

  1. Relational education: emphasising the fundamental importance of early relationships and interactions between educators and children, children and peers, educators and parents and settings and their communities and societies in which they are rooted;
  2. Holistic education: recognising the interrelatedness of domains of development and the importance of drawing on children’s own talents, emotions, experiences, culture and interests;
  3. Inclusive education: welcoming sociocultural diversity and valuing children’s cultural, linguistic and social backgrounds.

With THRIECE we define, describe and elaborate in detail on how to augment quality in each of these areas. We argue that such approaches could promote transformative education that offers a powerful vehicle for social inclusion, supporting “provision that encourages participation, strengthens social inclusion and embraces diversity” (EC 2014: 9) We argue that education that is holistic, inclusive and relational enables children to develop communicative, mathematical, technical and social competencies as well as cultural awareness, expression and understanding.

We presented the findings of our research at our international conference “Placing the Child at the Centre of Quality Early Childhood and Primary Education” which took place in Visual, Carlow on 16th January 2020. We were delighted with the enthusiasm of the conference participants for these fundamental practice concepts and with the wide range of presentations given by our conference speakers. There is no doubt that there is a strong appetite in Ireland, across Europe and, indeed, internationally, for putting the child back at the centre of what is understood as constituting quality in Early Childhood and Primary Education. We want to support this movement, by providing a strong research evidence base, combined with practice expertise and a shared language in a newly, integrated theoretical framework.

We will be shortly publishing our three Free online Continuous Professional Development modules: one in Relational Education, one in Inclusive Education and one in Holistic Education. They will be available to you, open-source, for use by anyone working in or interested in Early Childhood and Primary Education. See our website.  You can also follow us on Twitter @ThrieceProject

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Care-giving routines(1) Intention(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Routines(2) Queues(1) Wendy Lee(3) Identity(5) School Age Childcare(1) Running(1) Shoes(1) Staff Motivation(1) Margy Whalley(1) Santa(2) Spiders(1) stories(3) Capable(1) Academic Skills(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Snakes(1) RTE Investigates(1) UN(1) TRAP(1) Fantasy play(1) Patterns(1) Síolta QAP(1) art of the relationship(1) Exploring(1) Maths(5) Home Corner(1) Primary School(2) Horizon 2020(1) Engineers Week(2) Inclusion(3) healthy eating policies(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Story(1) parents(6) research(6) Department of Education and Skills(1) Anxiety(2) Time(2) Sculptures(1) journey(1) Buddies(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Family(1) science week(2) Adoption(1) Vertical grouping(1) learning(19) Training(2) early childhood educator(2) Sustainable(1) awards 2020(1) Support(1) annual conference(1) Children's Voice(1) Rituals(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) primary education(1) Shapes(1) Confidence(1) Youtube Series(1) Performance Management(1) Kerry(1) Self-regulation(1) Decision Making(1) behavioural science(1) Engagement(1) Graduate(1) Death(2) Annual Conference 2019(1) Mixed age groups(2) respect(5) Upcycling(1) New Appointments(1) Awards 2019(1) Wilenski(1) purpose(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Arlene Forster(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) relationships(17) Irish(1) Certificate(1) Thank you(1) Mark Twain(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Employee(1) Frustrations(1) Weather(1) Maternity Leave(1) DCYA(4) early years research(2) Trigonometry(1) meals(3) Leadership(1) Graduation(1) Arts(1) animals(2) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) community(5) Consent(1) RIE philosphy(1) Light table(1) Touch(1) Siolta blog(8) Belonging(3) maternity health(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) man up(1) Sessional service(1) babies(7) educarer(1) Italy(1) Afghanistan(1) Mount Everest(1) Diversity(1) European Project(1) Fee Play(1) Recycling(2) conversations(1) Aistear(118) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Games(1) refugees(1) Communications(1) Creativity(4) Easter(1) Ceremony(1) Digital Devices(1) CPD(1) Scents(1) Teamwork(1) Event Guide(1) Vietnam(1) CCTV(1) Drawing(2) research submissions(1) Inter-generational(2) Oireachtas(1) Facebook(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Gratitude(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) mushrooms(1) STEM(3) Exclusion(1) First 5(1) Learning Story Awards(2) ERASMUS+(3) keezy(1) Awards(2) Nonverbal(1) Snack Time(1) Culture(2) Grief(1) CIT(1) christmas(9) dogs(1) ReCreate(2) planning(1) Seas Suas(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Well-Being(9) Autism(4) Xbox(1) Favouritism(1) preschool(4) Health(2) Mindfulness(2) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Our Little Seed(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Leprechauns(1) apps for children(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Treasure(1) AsIAm(2) Mantra(1) TOY Programme(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Glitter(2) Maths Week(1) Qualifications(1) Thanks(1) Children's Rights(3) preschool settings(1) learning bias(1) Magic(1) Child mental health(1) Window(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Limerick(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) play(34) Reggio(1) Little Buddies(1) Online(1) Storytelling(6) outdoor space(3) Appreciation(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) risk(2) Relaxation(1) Time Out(1) United Nations(1) Sequins(1) Covid19 crisis(1) structure(1) movement behaviours(1) Awards 2018(3) Love(2) Visual Impairment(1) Potential(1) Builders(1) under 3's(3) gender stereotype(1) Learning Stories(9) documentation(4) Reggio Children Network(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Map(1) science(3) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Inspired Practice Award(5) Mud kitchens(1) worries(1) Technology(3) social media(1) Family wall(1) Eritrea(1) ICBN(1) Human Resources(1) Syria(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Flowers(1) Snacks(1) Traditions(2) Empathy(1) Children and families(1) IGL(1) routine(2) College(1) Interactions(2) phone apps(1) listen(1) Workforce(1) Document Learning(1) Iraq(1) Magda Gerber(1) Sleep(1) SPICE Framework(1) Super Shed Stories(2) collaboration(1) Giraffe(2) NAEYC(1) bonds(1) Participation(2) Whole Group(1) value(1) Visitors(1) Independence(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Budget 2020(1) Sweets(1) Quality(4) Pen green(1) Social Skills(1) outdoors(3) Wrapping paper(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) dublin(2) Photographs(1) Scéalta Blog(99) Policy(2) Line-ups(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Penguins(1) Feeding(1) staying connected(1) Playschool(1) Inter-generational learning(2) friendships(1) Obesity(1) The Lullaby Book(1) MECPI(1) Craft(1) Winter(1) dining experiences(1) developing motor skills(1) Settling in(4) Albert Einstein(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) ECEC(2) UD(1) Masterclass(2) DES Inspection(1) Malaguzzi(1) Lego(2) Growing up in Ireland(3) Orla Kenny(1) blog(29) Exploring and Thinking(1) Behaviour(3) Design(1) First 5 strategy(1) Nutrition(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Childcare(3) Motor neuron disease(1) early learning(1) emotional environment(2) Party(1) Funding(1) Through the looking glass(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Budget 2018(1) Budget 2019(2) Educator of the Year Award(3) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Affordability(1) Confident(1) Trade union(1) Montessori(3) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Sport(1) Playdough(1) Positivity(1) HR(1) Self Help Skills(1) family time(1) ECEC Setting(2) transitions(10) ears(1) Mealtimes(1) Biting(1) Professionalisation(5) Pobal(1) learners(1) Infection Control(1) educating(1) National Awards 2019(1) Role play(1) Decisions(1) early life(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) interacting(2) Maria Montessori(1) Stress(2) Laughter(1) UNCRC(2) Titles(1) Reading Time(1) Celebrations(4) early years learning(1) Buddy Bench(1) Fabric(1) Plants(1) dining(1) Yoga(1) Mayo(1) risky play(2) grandchild(1) experience(1) Laugh(1) ECCE(7) environments(1) Performing(1) Arithmetic(1) Exit interview(1) scéalta(32) pets(1) Twitter(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Cognitive development(1) development(8) Sociodramatic play(1) curiosity(3) Bereavement(2) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Painting(1) youdoodle(1) opportunity(1) The Jelly King(1) COVID-19(4) Jenga(1) books(4) San Miniato(4) Loss(1) code of ethics(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Pre-School Services(1) Advocacy(1) Dance(1) social science(1) EECERA 2016(1) AIM(2) Recycle(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Sustainability(3) risk assessment(1) Maynooth(1) Learning Story(1) Mo Scéal(1) National Holiday(1) Trick or treat(1) Competent(1) Workplace Relations(3) continual professional development(1) Wonder(1) pablo(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) PIP(1) Inspections(1) Investment(2) Degree(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) food(1) National Awards 2018(2) General Data Protection Regulation(1) National Pyjama Day(1) EM Standing(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) bloom app(1) E.coli(1) Imagination(3) Interests(1) Learning Journal(2) Universal Design(2) Treasure Chest(1) Prexit(1) Change(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) children development(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) trust(5) Interaction(1) Gardening(1) role playing(1) Síolta(112) overhear(1) iOS(1) Reflective Practice(1) Impact(1) listening(1) Child Care(1) Hand Hygiene(1) supportive environments(2) Educators(2) Leargas(1) Thinking(1) GDPR(1) MA(1) Brain(1) gender bias(1) aistear blog(3) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) curriculum(5) Academics(1) Blocks(1) Environment(2) Covid pandemic(1) Norway(2) Learning Stories Award(3) Scéalta Book Review(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Trade Unions(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) emotions(2) Research Seminar(1) Infectious diseases(1) story time(2) NCCA(3) childcare services(1) Japan(1) Inspirational(2) Celebrate(1) play therapy(1) Art(6) communication(4) Names(1) Early Childhood Ireland(1) feisty(1) imotion(1) Summer(1) Music(3) education(2) Book Review(1) Book Club(2) baby room(1) Awards Night(1) Magnavacchi(1) Traffic Lights(1) Engineering(3) show and tell(1) Mental Health(3) National Childcare Scheme(1) eating(1) keep in touch(1) Socioemotional development(1) Smiles(1) toddlers(3) Supernanny(1) budget(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Kilkenny(1) outdoor play(6) Breathing(2) Tuscan Approach(2) Kids Own(1) Elders(1) linc(1) Wesco(1) Learning journals(1) Study Trip(1) Maynooth University(2) conference(1) University(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) life long learning(1) Opportunities(1) Building Resilience(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Body Language(1) InspireMe.ie(1) Workplace well-being(1) child-centred approach(1) memories(1) play stories(2) Care routines(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Early Years(1) Meal time(1) Digital(1) reading(5) Community involvement(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Iceland(1) Halloween(2) Valentine's Day(3) Administrative Burden(1) Meet the Members(1) Children's Research Network(1) Exercise(1) Cork(1) Self-Esteem(1) Children(4) Plastic(1) INTO(1) Communicating(1) Early Years Educators(3) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Childhood(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Rich Documentation(1) Challenges(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Creative(1) Mathematicians(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine