Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Playing with Roles


Tuesday 30 May 2017

The complexity of children’s play continues to leave me with many questions. Recently, I was visiting my friend, and her curious 2-year-old who has begun to show an interest in doctors and patients.

On this day, she ran excitedly across the sitting room, and suddenly, progressed into a slow walk with both hands on her tummy. Her head was down as she gazed across the room towards me. Her voice lowered, and she whispered ‘Me not well’. Following her lead, I concernedly repeated ‘oh, you’re not well, what will we do?’. The conversation continued to her needing ‘medicine’. When asked, what did that look like, she scurried to the play kitchen and improvised with the babies’ bottle. Saying in a low tone ‘Me sick, me need medicine’, she handed me the bottle, and lay on the ground in a curled position. Following her cue, I knelt beside her and gave her the ‘medicine’.

In the next moment, I shared with her something which we are all familiar with. A smile. A glisten in her eye. And a look of ‘you know I am not sick, but something is happening here’. Dr Carmel Brennan speaks of this as the ‘I know, you know, I know moment’, or the shared meaning (intersubjectivity). This moment allowed for her to have a shared understanding of doctors and patients. It allowed her to share her experience, and understanding of what it means. In that moment, she became playful. We have all experienced this moment, whether we have drunk a cup of tea from a plastic cup, heard the crying doll, or ran from the scary dinosaur chasing us outside.

Aistear (2009) reminds us, play is at the centre of each child’s journey, and it is within this wondrous world which children bring their own culture, background interests and experiences. Each time she engages, the play is meaningful and relevant to her. And it is guided by her emotions, feelings and imagination. Maria Aarts believes through naming a child’s initiatives, we are affirming they have good play ideas. We are meeting the child where they are at, and positively encouraging what it is the child wants to play.


From this experience, it has reminded me to slow down even more. Slow down when listening to children’s verbal cues. Slowing down, and waiting for the cue to enter their world of play. And slowing down, and meeting the child where they are at regarding their experiences, understandings and interests.

Have you noticed how children enter the play frame in your settings?  How they draw us in to their play ideas and how important it is to give time for the play idea to develop.


For similar themes read our previous blog posts on "Capturing the Wonder of Childhood" and "How slowing down builds better curriculum".

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Awards(2) Mixed age groups(2) Laugh(1) Leargas(1) Inclusion(3) Magic(1) Art(6) Syria(1) Map(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) development(8) Performance Management(1) Routines(1) blog(28) First 5(1) Titles(1) emotional environment(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Cork(1) Storytelling(2) Italy(1) ReCreate(2) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Culture(2) Consent(1) College(1) Fabric(1) Anxiety(2) books(4) Early Years Educators(1) Sport(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Halloween(2) Recycle(1) United Nations(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) refugees(1) parents(5) Care routines(1) listen(1) transitions(9) emotions(2) Competent(1) Awards 2018(3) Xbox(1) Sustainability(3) Playschool(1) First 5 strategy(1) Self-Esteem(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Reggio(1) Síolta QAP(1) Celebrate(1) Builders(1) Drawing(2) Masterclass(2) Yoga(1) Nuturing interactions(1) play(29) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Educators(1) Degree(1) scéalta(25) educating(1) Settling in(2) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Photographs(1) Graduation(1) Touch(1) Confident(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Frustrations(1) Games(1) overhear(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Research and Professional Learning(1) Grief(1) mushrooms(1) AIM(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) Academics(1) Empathy(1) Little Buddies(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) child-centred approach(1) Christmas Creativity(2) role playing(1) Blocks(1) Arithmetic(1) Playdough(1) Qualifications(1) Facebook(1) SPICE Framework(1) Meet the Members(1) toddlers(3) christmas(8) Trade Unions(1) Lego(2) Flowers(1) Our Little Seed(1) Online(1) Seas Suas(1) Aistear(103) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Children's Research Network(1) Mantra(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Light table(1) Technology(2) Meal time(1) Home Corner(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) National Awards 2018(2) Irish(1) Laughter(1) Albert Einstein(1) eating(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Advocacy(1) reading(4) Appreciation(1) Impact(1) Nutrition(1) early childhood educator(1) feisty(1) Independence(1) Norway(2) preschool(2) UN(1) journey(1) education(2) Special Needs Assistants(1) Plants(1) Self-regulation(1) Engineers Week(2) New Appointments(1) Engineering(2) Inter-generational(1) food(1) Mud kitchens(1) Penguins(1) Health(1) Death(1) Kids Own(1) dining experiences(1) Decisions(1) Kilkenny(1) GDPR(1) Japan(1) Creativity(4) Funding(1) Inspirational(2) listening(1) Investment(1) Workforce(1) Exploring(1) Smiles(1) science(3) EECERA 2016(1) communication(4) Favouritism(1) CIT(1) Horizon 2020(1) Magda Gerber(1) Capable(1) Autism(3) Rising to the Challenge(2) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Mental Health(3) Challenges(1) interacting(2) Kerry(1) Wrapping paper(1) research(6) Mindfulness(2) Interaction(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) dublin(2) early years research(1) DCYA(4) grandchild(1) Reggio Children Network(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Awards 2019(1) INTO(1) Maths Week(1) Craft(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Affordability(1) Treasure Chest(1) Recycling(2) Identity and Belonging(3) Inspired Practice Award(5) Line-ups(1) Design(1) IGL(1) Gardening(1) AsIAm(1) Decision Making(1) Love(2) worries(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) NAEYC(1) ECCE(6) Dance(1) Thank you(1) Fantasy play(1) Event Guide(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Communicating(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Loss(1) Budget 2018(1) Pen green(1) Snakes(1) Positivity(1) Arts(1) Policy(2) MA(1) memories(1) Teamwork(1) Exercise(1) Vertical grouping(1) Wesco(1) Mayo(1) Book Club(2) respect(4) story time(1) Feeding(1) Prexit(1) educarer(1) ICBN(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Mark Twain(1) planning(1) Inter-generational learning(1) pets(1) Rituals(1) Arlene Forster(1) Sustainable(1) Malaguzzi(1) Sociodramatic play(1) experience(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) under 3's(3) Performing(1) NCCA(2) Quality(3) Nonverbal(1) Identity(4) outdoor play(6) National Awards 2019(1) Environment(2) learning(15) STEM(2) Plastic(1) Bereavement(1) Graduate(1) Sweets(1) RIE philosphy(1) Glitter(2) Change(1) Margy Whalley(1) Care-giving routines(1) Magnavacchi(1) Workplace well-being(1) Story(1) environments(1) Stress(2) Valentine's Day(3) friendships(1) Montessori(2) Deirdre Rogers(1) Spiders(1) relationships(12) Cognitive development(1) Window(1) meals(3) Children's Rights(1) Thanks(1) Social Skills(1) Child mental health(1) Mo Scéal(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Maynooth University(1) Visual Impairment(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) documentation(2) EM Standing(1) Early Years(1) National Holiday(1) Learning Story Awards(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Role play(1) Shoes(1) Time Out(1) science week(2) Learning Stories Award(3) Tuscan Approach(2) Trick or treat(1) Research Seminar(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Buddy Bench(1) Sculptures(1) Certificate(1) Workplace Relations(3) CPD(1) Painting(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) babies(6) Behaviour(3) Wendy Lee(2) Supernanny(1) Leprechauns(1) Professionalisation(4) Treasure(1) Brain(1) UD(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Visitors(1) Gratitude(1) community(5) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Celebrations(4) Obesity(1) outdoors(3) Vietnam(1) Through the looking glass(1) Socioemotional development(1) Administrative Burden(1) risky play(2) Budget 2019(2) The Jelly King(1) Snack Time(1) Traffic Lights(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) Mount Everest(1) Trigonometry(1) Limerick(1) San Miniato(4) Self Help Skills(1) ears(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Family(1) Diversity(1) Oireachtas(1) Eritrea(1) Wonder(1) Wilenski(1) ERASMUS+(3) Trade union(1) dogs(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Mealtimes(1) MECPI(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) bonds(1) Imagination(3) Annual Conference 2019(1) Exclusion(1) animals(2) Giraffe(2) Universal Design(2) Creative(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) stories(2) ECEC(1) supportive environments(1) Buddies(1) Music(3) Easter(1) Community involvement(1) Relaxation(1) Time(1) Ceremony(1) TOY Programme(1) UNCRC(1) Employee(1) Maths(4) Names(1) Well-Being(6) Communications(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Sequins(1) Pobal(1) Scéalta Blog(79) Interactions(1) Learning Stories(7) Adoption(1) San Minia(1) Research Conference 2019(1) baby room(1) Exit interview(1) curriculum(5) Thinking(1) Scents(1) Liz Kerrins(1) play stories(1) social media(1) PIP(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Belonging(3) conversations(1) Weather(1) Queues(1) Upcycling(1) Childhood(1) budget(1) Running(1) Orla Kenny(1) University(1) Party(1) Santa(2) Jenga(1) Snacks(1) Family wall(1) Learning Story(1) risk(2) Maynooth(1) Traditions(2) dining(1) Shapes(1) Mathematicians(1) Síolta(98) Breathing(2) Body Language(1) trust(2) Learning journals(1) Childcare(2) Training(2) routine(2) Twitter(1) Biting(1) Afghanistan(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Winter(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Maria Montessori(1) Potential(1) risk assessment(1) Children(1) Academic Skills(1) maternity health(1) linc(1) Patterns(1) Primary School(2) Iraq(1) Maternity Leave(1) Siolta blog(2) Interests(1) curiosity(3) Pobal sector profile(1) Reggio Emilia(1) outdoor space(3) Aldo Fortunati(4) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine