Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Play – No Overload!


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:

grandchild(1) gender bias(1) Maynooth University(2) Fabric(1) early childhood educator(2) Reggio Children Network(1) Training(3) dining experiences(1) Early Years Educators(3) Trauma-Sensitive(1) child safeguarding(1) Trick or treat(1) UK(1) Inter-generational(2) Performance Management(1) animals(2) Engagement(1) Flowers(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Through the looking glass(1) Potential(1) Performing(1) New Appointments(1) timekeeping skills(1) Mindfulness(3) Magic(1) Vertical grouping(1) Children's Book Club(1) Maths(6) First 5(1) Our Little Seed(1) Digital Devices(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) reopening(1) creche(1) Independence(1) Maynooth(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) Seas Suas(1) Body Language(1) community(5) Grief(1) annual conference(1) Primary School(3) preschool settings(1) Mayo(1) Playschool(1) Intention(1) Children(8) code of professional responsibility(1) presentation skills(1) Lego(2) story time(2) TOY Programme(1) Culture(2) Laughter(1) movement behaviours(1) Rituals(1) Smiles(1) Blocks(1) Pretend Play(1) The Jelly King(1) Children and families(2) Childcare(3) natural environment(1) Study Trip(1) Arlene Forster(1) Book Review(1) supportive environments(2) National Childcare Scheme(1) Shoes(1) Learning journals(1) communication(4) listen(1) worldbookday(1) Self-regulation(1) Relaxation(1) Map(1) Care routines(1) Trade Unions(1) homeschool(1) Technology(3) CCTV(1) INTO(1) Impact(1) children’s learning(1) Children's Voice(1) IGL(1) christmas(9) Sustainable(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) Nuturing interactions(1) science(3) National Awards 2018(2) International Narratives(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Traffic Lights(1) Valentine's Day(3) Care-giving routines(1) Touch(1) structure(1) planning(1) blog(56) Easter(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Syria(1) Document Learning(1) mental health problems(1) Quality(4) Craft(1) EECERA(1) Inclusion(3) Learning Story(1) playleader(1) Socioemotional development(1) Wesco(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Inspections(1) youdoodle(1) childcare services(1) education system(1) Fantasy play(1) Wendy Lee(4) Childhood(2) Identity(5) play pod(1) Mud kitchens(1) routine(2) Child mental health(1) journey(1) ECEC Setting(2) Women(1) Professionalisation(5) PIP(1) Celebrate(1) Scéalta Blog(106) outdoors(4) Early Learning and Care(2) Shapes(2) life long learning(1) Hand Hygiene(2) june29(1) Scents(1) social media(2) GDPR(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) General Data Protection Regulation(1) NAEYC(1) emotional environment(2) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Workforce(1) bonds(1) Buddies(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Mount Everest(1) coronavirus(1) Pen green(1) MA(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Santa(2) Wilenski(1) outdoor space(3) racism(1) San Miniato(4) UNICEF report(1) Feeding(1) emotional well-being(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Queues(1) World Health Organisation(1) pablo(1) Nonverbal(1) Diversity(1) keep in touch(1) an post(1) Competent(1) Meal time(1) gender stereotype(1) social science(1) Return to Work(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) ELC(1) risky play(2) Glitter(2) Síolta(139) refugees(1) scientific and artistic processes(1) Kindness Challenge(1) budget(1) Employee(1) Autism(4) Design(1) Decisions(1) E.coli(1) Afghanistan(1) dublin(2) collaboration(1) DCYA(6) Italy(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Snakes(1) Spiders(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) early life(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Valerie Gaynor(1) Reggio Emilia(2) ECIAwards20(1) Maria Montessori(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Leaders in Practice(1) purpose(1) Horizon 2020(1) United Nations(1) HR(1) scéalta(58) Environment(2) Yoga(1) Home Corner(1) UN(1) CIT(1) Reflective Practice(1) Winter(1) Iceland(2) play stories(2) Maths Week(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Pre-School Services(1) Inter-generational learning(2) aistear blog(3) Communications(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Albert Einstein(1) educarer(1) online training(1) Recycling(2) Limerick(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) baby room(1) AIM(2) Creative(1) early years research(3) Regulation 23(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) babies(7) developing motor skills(1) Giraffe(2) Vietnam(1) ears(1) Consent(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Book Club(2) Iraq(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) bloom app(1) Imagination(3) Annual Conference 2017(2) annual awards(1) respect(5) Appreciation(1) Infection Control(1) child-centric(1) Fee Play(1) social media policy(1) Growing up Outdoors(2) STEAM(1) Awards(2) EECERA 2016(1) Kerry(1) Degree(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) relationships(18) Death(2) Obesity(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Interests(1) Kilkenny(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Leprechauns(1) play therapy(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Participation(2) Children's Research Network(2) Child Care(1) Your place(1) Support(1) College(1) ERASMUS+(3) Kids Own(1) Unesco(1) memories(1) early childhood(1) Kindness(1) Workplace well-being(1) Visual Impairment(1) Staff Motivation(1) Event Guide(1) linc(1) Routines(2) Facebook(1) Arts(1) Titles(1) Mark Twain(1) feisty(1) Positivity(1) Malaguzzi(1) Administrative Burden(1) COVID(3) Access and Inclusion Model(2) inspiring interactions(1) Irish(1) Leadership(1) Weather(1) Plants(1) Small World Play(1) mushrooms(1) Nutrition(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Counting(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Maternity Leave(1) show and tell(1) art of the relationship(1) University(1) Early Years(1) risk(2) Qualifications(1) Loss(1) development(9) National Annual Awards 2020(1) TRAP(1) early childhood ireland research(1) Exit interview(1) worries(1) Sustainability(3) eating(1) partnership(1) Magda Gerber(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Covid response(2) Music(3) Learning Story Awards(2) Storytelling(8) Games(2) UK Government(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) behavioural science(1) Window(1) Thinking(1) Xbox(1) Time(1) Mental Health(4) Decision Making(1) Interactions(3) maternity health(1) Pobal(1) curriculum(6) learning hub(2) reading(6) role playing(1) Aistear(131) St. Patrick's Day(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Penguins(1) Opportunities(1) child led(1) Eritrea(1) environments(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) NCCA(3) Drawing(2) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Looking Forward(1) Infectious diseases(1) National Holiday(1) imotion(1) Upcycling(1) Engineers Week(2) World book day(1) UD(1) early years settings(1) Treasure(1) Digital(1) Capable(1) Certificate(1) Trade union(1) research(8) Universal Design(2) Sweets(1) partnership with families(1) Plastic(1) ECCE(7) Sleep(1) Croatia(1) Budget 2020(1) Celebrations(4) Cork Institute of Technology(1) phone apps(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Family wall(1) Summer(2) democratic citizens(1) Adoption(1) Advocacy(1) lockdown(1) primary education(1) play pods(2) Prexit(1) Educators(2) COVID-19 landscape(1) Mathematicians(1) quarantine kids(1) Workplace Relations(3) Snacks(1) Early Childhood Education(1) Little Buddies(1) Online(1) Mixed age groups(3) Sessional service(1) Well-Being(10) Equality(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) continual professional development(1) meals(3) Sport(1) Twitter(1) Budget 2019(2) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Budget 2018(1) RIE philosphy(1) Graduation(1) AsIAm(2) Norway(2) Reading Time(2) Cork(1) Fire Safety(1) ICBN(1) Nordic model(1) Family(1) Japan(1) Gardening(1) parents(7) Behaviour(3) Belonging(3) Reopening Childcare(1) Children's Rights(3) upskilling(1) preschools(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) outdoor environment(1) Party(1) Playdough(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Building Resilience(1) Photographs(1) dining(1) Breathing(2) Confident(1) curiosity(3) First 5 strategy(1) Frustrations(1) Exercise(1) CPD(1) Bereavement(2) Covid pandemic(3) peer group(1) Cognitive development(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Communicating(1) Whole Group(1) Proceedings Journal(1) trust(4) democracy(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) education(2) Graduate(1) Favouritism(1) SPICE Framework(1) awards 2020(1) early years learning(1) Change(1) Self Help Skills(1) outdoor play(7) Orla Kenny(1) School Age Childcare(2) Sequins(1) Mantra(1) Margy Whalley(1) interacting(2) QRF(1) Engineering(3) DES Inspection(1) Buddy Bench(1) Super Shed Stories(2) learning(19) Academic Skills(1) experience(1) learners(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Traditions(2) Painting(1) Exploratory Play(1) Looking Back(1) ECEC(3) Europe(1) Gratitude(1) preschool(4) reopening ireland(1) Supernanny(1) friendships(1) under 3's(3) learning bias(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Stress(2) code of ethics(1) apps for children(1) Early Years Education(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Story(2) Exclusion(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Wonder(1) Pobal sector profile(1) RTE Investigates(1) Dance(1) Arithmetic(1) Large Doll Play(1) SAC(1) research submissions(1) healthy eating policies(1) Self-Esteem(1) Recycle(1) children development(1) Skillnet(1) Human Resources(1) quarantine(2) family time(1) Learning Journal(2) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Learning Stories(9) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Oireachtas(1) conference(1) Meet the Members(1) responsive relationships(1) Settling in(4) Line-ups(1) Affordability(1) Awards Night(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Interaction(1) UNCRC(2) man up(1) Covid19 crisis(1) keezy(1) built environments(1) iOS(1) Brain(1) food(1) value(1) Elders(1) Loving Relationships(2) Reggio(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Montessori(3) Siolta blog(8) risk assessment(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Mo Scéal(1) Love(3) Community involvement(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Christmas Creativity(2) early year’s classrooms(1) Anthony Semann(1) educating(1) Anxiety(2) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) staying connected(1) EM Standing(1) Mealtimes(1) multi-generational community(1) COVID-19(18) Creativity(7) guardian(1) transitions(10) Irish guidelines(1) Teamwork(1) Sculptures(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) European Project(1) MECPI(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) listening(1) Magnavacchi(1) Funding(1) play(37) Leargas(1) ReCreate(2) child-centred approach(1) Time Out(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) documentation(4) Pedagogical leaders(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Names(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Ceremony(1) Snack Time(1) Running(1) pets(1) Youtube Series(1) TUSLA(1) Thank you(1) Role play(1) Investment(2) Pedagogy(2) Return to Work Training(1) Builders(1) Social Skills(1) Online Research Symposium(3) Masterclass(2) Rich Documentation(1) Research Seminar(1) Halloween(2) stories(3) Inspiring Practice(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Patterns(1) Exploring(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Seanchaí(1) books(5) STEM(3) Empathy(1) Confidence(1) dogs(1) Academics(1) National Awards 2019(1) Biting(1) Visitors(1) Light table(1) Trigonometry(1) Wrapping paper(1) Síolta QAP(1) overhear(1) emotions(2) Laugh(1) toddlers(3) Learning through Storytelling(2) Awards 2019(1) science week(2) Thanks(1) Health(2) National Research Conference 2019(1) Inspirational(2) Challenges(1) Jenga(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Treasure Chest(1) women in research(1) conversations(1) Awards 2018(3) National Pyjama Day(1) Art(6) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Policy(2)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine