Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Play – No Overload!

Amy McArdle

By: AMY MCARDLE

Tuesday 28 November 2017

A few weeks ago, I wrote the first of two blog posts called ‘Admin Overload?’, which documented my learning from a day shadowing Valerie Gaynor, member of ECI’s Policy and Implementation Panel and Manager of Creative Kids in Dublin. Since I have no personal experience in operating, managing or working in an early years service, these opportunities are incredibly important and help ensure that my policy work reflects the reality for services on the ground. As the title of my first post suggests, I was overwhelmed on Valerie’s behalf by the volume and complexity of the administration she was attempting to complete whilst, at the same time, trying to manage the human relationships with parents, children and staff that are essential to quality early years provision. The second day I spent in Creative Kids was like the antidote to the first, it was all about children’s experiences, early years practice and seeing the incredible job the Early Years Educators here, and throughout the country, are doing to nurture, support and teach our youngest citizens.

There was no sense of the ‘admin overload’ in the Green Room, home from home to 20 young children, the majority of whom participate in a morning ECCE session and stay on in part-time care until 2pm each day. In the Green Room, the focus is entirely on creating and facilitating meaningful learning experiences for the children that are responsive to their interests. Or, as those of you with backgrounds in Early Childhood Care and Education will know it, a child led emergent curriculum.

 

Before joining the room, Valerie had explained a bit about this philosophy of teaching and described her role and that of the educators as the ‘scaffolding to children’s learning’. I asked her for an example of what this might look like in practice and she offered one that knocked my socks off. It started simply with one child’s idea to make a movie of his friends and culminated in all the parents being invited to the red-carpeted movie premiere of the children’s film projected onto the big screen (a sheet!) in the service. You can read all about this exciting journey in Creative Kids’ Learning Story Lights, Camera, Action! Our School Movie

I experienced the wonderful interactions between the Early Years Educators, Ciara and Vickie with breaks covered by Carol and Hayley, and the children in the Green Room and how they facilitate child led play. Having enjoyed some time with the children getting to know me, this new person in their room, with lots of exploratory questions like ‘what’s that?’, ‘my wrist bone’, ‘what’s this?’ ‘a hole in my t-shirt (and thanks for noticing!)’, ‘what’s that for?’ ‘this is my notebook for writing down all the things I learn today so I can remember them later’, Hayley suggested that one of the children might like to show me the beauty box. What ensued was a full-blown make-over with hair drying, brushing and lots of pretend make-up application. The children dipped in and out of the play with me to join other games happening in the room like the doctor’s surgery or to take some quiet time in the comfy area.

I don’t have a huge amount of practical experience with children in this age range and the thing that surprised me most was how sophisticated their play is and how adaptable they are to the play evolving and unfolding into something different through the lead of another child or the facilitation of the Educator.

It was also really interesting going through the learning journals with Carol and seeing how the different activities connect to Aistear and Síolta. For me, and no doubt for parents, this breathed life into play being fundamental to children’s learning and development. The learning journals were incredibly detailed. They were all hand written with observations, individual children’s quotes and beautifully decorated with photographs, stickers, cut-outs and glitz. It was clear than a lot of time had gone into them. The Educators confirmed, as I had suspected, that much of the work on the journals happens outside of contact hours. Often at home at the end of a day’s work and family time. Having seen the intensity of their day with the children and the energy they give to their roles, I wondered if this additional unpaid time dedicated to learning journals was worth it? Without hesitation, they said yes-first and foremost, the children love to see their work and it is an important tool to collaborate and communicate with parents. That, put simply, is worth the additional unpaid time.

This, I thought, is the commitment to quality that currently goes unrecognised in the funding of Government sponsored early years programmes. This is the passion to delivering the best early learning experiences to children in collaboration with their parents that continues to be exploited by the State in its underinvestment in the sector, which means poor pay and conditions for Early Years Educators.

I left my second day of shadowing in Creative Kids more determined than ever to advocate for increased investment for the sector and better pay and conditions for the incredible staff that work with the best interests of our children in their hearts and minds.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Certificate(1) Leargas(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Awards(2) Support(1) Wesco(1) Adoption(1) Book Club(2) Margy Whalley(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Home Corner(1) Shapes(1) Fabric(1) Maths(4) emotional environment(1) Buddies(1) Celebrate(1) Budget 2019(2) Early Years(1) Qualifications(1) Treasure(1) Communications(1) respect(5) CPD(1) Learning Story(1) Creativity(4) Gratitude(1) Socioemotional development(1) Self-regulation(1) Training(2) Prexit(1) Snacks(1) outdoor play(6) journey(1) dogs(1) Challenges(1) Mindfulness(2) Relaxation(1) Community involvement(1) Facebook(1) early years research(1) Grief(1) Reggio Emilia(1) refugees(1) risk assessment(1) Flowers(1) emotions(2) Leprechauns(1) Mealtimes(1) Queues(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) UNCRC(1) Stress(2) MECPI(1) Independence(1) Craft(1) Feeding(1) Recycling(2) Competent(1) Upcycling(1) Magnavacchi(1) Quality(3) CCTV(1) Traffic Lights(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Death(1) interacting(2) Pobal(1) Seas Suas(1) Sequins(1) Consent(1) outdoors(3) Environment(2) pets(1) Xbox(1) Traditions(2) Exploring and Thinking(1) Laugh(1) EECERA 2016(1) United Nations(1) community(5) RIE philosphy(1) Favouritism(1) Frustrations(1) Learning Story Awards(1) Dance(1) ICBN(1) Games(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Trade Unions(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Visitors(1) Exit interview(1) Wendy Lee(2) Our Little Seed(1) Rituals(1) Awards 2019(1) Masterclass(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) Body Language(1) Patterns(1) planning(1) linc(1) overhear(1) Winter(1) Routines(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Inclusion(3) Trade union(1) Graduation(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Buddy Bench(1) STEM(2) Graduate(1) Empathy(1) Plastic(1) Meal time(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Photographs(1) Workplace well-being(1) Supernanny(1) babies(7) curiosity(3) christmas(8) TRAP(1) Nonverbal(1) Capable(1) Research Seminar(1) dining(1) Imagination(3) friendships(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Maria Montessori(1) AsIAm(1) Exclusion(1) educarer(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Mayo(1) Culture(2) Albert Einstein(1) Mud kitchens(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Growing up in Ireland(3) Cognitive development(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Shoes(1) Jenga(1) Horizon 2020(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Inspirational(2) Music(3) Degree(1) Workforce(1) Impact(1) Appreciation(1) Through the looking glass(1) San Minia(1) Celebrations(4) Pen green(1) Children's Research Network(1) Communicating(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) listening(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Employee(1) Potential(1) Social Skills(1) Spiders(1) eating(1) Child mental health(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Care-giving routines(1) Engineering(2) Reggio(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Scéalta Blog(82) INTO(1) Trick or treat(1) Builders(1) Exercise(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Recycle(1) ECEC(1) Sweets(1) Santa(2) meals(3) experience(1) Role play(1) transitions(10) The Lullaby Book(1) Arlene Forster(1) Mo Scéal(1) The Jelly King(1) Wilenski(1) science(3) First 5 strategy(1) Children(1) Autism(3) toddlers(3) Valerie Gaynor(1) Scents(1) under 3's(3) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) maternity health(1) Art(6) Titles(1) Wrapping paper(1) Study Trip(1) Sustainable(1) Early Years Educators(1) Weather(1) blog(28) College(1) Family(1) InspireMe.ie(1) Afghanistan(1) learning(15) Human Resources(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Design(1) Funding(1) animals(2) Iceland(1) grandchild(1) Mount Everest(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Storytelling(2) Health(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) risk(2) outdoor space(3) Loss(1) Maynooth(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Wonder(1) Thank you(1) story time(1) Settling in(2) Ariana Pucci(1) Care routines(1) Behaviour(3) reading(4) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) Confident(1) Easter(1) Malaguzzi(1) Names(1) Affordability(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) food(1) Universal Design(2) Well-Being(6) Annual Conference 2019(1) NCCA(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) documentation(2) Aistear(104) Laughter(1) Orla Kenny(1) Arithmetic(1) Kilkenny(1) Awards 2018(3) Tuscan Approach(2) Sculptures(1) Self-Esteem(1) Reggio Children Network(1) UD(1) Story(1) San Miniato(4) Identity and Belonging(3) Arts(1) worries(1) DCYA(4) books(4) Halloween(2) Vietnam(1) Twitter(1) education(2) Administrative Burden(1) Inter-generational learning(1) Playschool(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Map(1) Online(1) Belonging(3) Trigonometry(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Workplace Relations(3) Touch(1) Breathing(2) Snakes(1) EM Standing(1) Gardening(1) Nutrition(1) Love(2) environments(1) child-centred approach(1) Identity(4) European Project(1) Anxiety(2) science week(2) Painting(1) Japan(1) Childcare(2) Decisions(1) ERASMUS+(3) Blocks(1) Magda Gerber(1) Time(1) Síolta QAP(1) development(8) ECCE(6) Positivity(1) Educators(1) risky play(2) Engineers Week(2) AIM(2) Glitter(2) National Holiday(1) Budget 2018(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Primary School(2) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Lego(2) Mark Twain(1) CIT(1) Window(1) Treasure Chest(1) Yoga(1) Meet the Members(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Party(1) Investment(1) feisty(1) Biting(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Inter-generational(1) Maths Week(1) Norway(2) Oireachtas(1) University(1) New Appointments(1) Kerry(1) supportive environments(1) Iraq(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) role playing(1) Sport(1) Diversity(1) Vertical grouping(1) play(29) Italy(1) PIP(1) Bereavement(1) Childhood(1) dining experiences(1) Performance Management(1) National Awards 2018(2) memories(1) Creative(1) Fantasy play(1) educating(1) RTE Investigates(1) Valentine's Day(3) mushrooms(1) Event Guide(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Mantra(1) Confidence(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) ReCreate(2) communication(4) Christmas Creativity(2) parents(5) Smiles(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Snack Time(1) Academic Skills(1) Kids Own(1) stories(2) Magic(1) UN(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Obesity(1) early childhood educator(1) Performing(1) Family wall(1) Maynooth University(1) Policy(2) routine(2) listen(1) preschool(2) Thanks(1) Technology(2) Montessori(2) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) NAEYC(1) budget(1) SPICE Framework(1) trust(3) Self Help Skills(1) Sustainability(3) Mixed age groups(2) social media(1) Drawing(2) Line-ups(1) Brain(1) GDPR(1) TOY Programme(1) relationships(13) Inspired Practice Award(5) Children's Rights(1) Plants(1) Exploring(1) Advocacy(1) Cork(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Interactions(1) conversations(1) research(6) Interaction(1) Running(1) Siolta blog(2) dublin(2) curriculum(5) Learning Stories Award(3) Educator of the Year Award(3) Thinking(1) Ceremony(1) Mathematicians(1) Maternity Leave(1) National Awards 2019(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Síolta(99) Irish(1) Learning journals(1) MA(1) First 5(1) Professionalisation(4) Syria(1) Playdough(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) ears(1) play stories(1) Teamwork(1) Time Out(1) Change(1) Mental Health(3) IGL(1) baby room(1) Academics(1) Little Buddies(1) Light table(1) Visual Impairment(1) Interests(1) Decision Making(1) Giraffe(2) Eritrea(1) scéalta(25) Penguins(1) Limerick(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Learning Stories(7) bonds(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine