Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

San Miniato: Quality Early Years Education – A Tuscan Perspective

By: SUSAN QUIRKE-CROWLEY

Tuesday 10 July 2018

On Sunday June 10th 2018, I had the privilege of travelling to San Miniato, Italy, with a group of 15 like-minded individuals on the Early Childhood Ireland Erasmus+ Léargas Study Trip in pursuit of international perspectives on quality within the Early Years Education Sector.

Our host, Barbara, at La Bogetta Di Gepetto afforded us the opportunity to visit three unique Early Years settings for children birth to 3 years old. The image of the child as a protagonist (initiating and leading their own learning) of learning and a competent being is at the heart of the San Miniato approach. Vertical grouping (mixed ages) of children from babies to 3 years old is the norm. Children are active agents in their learning and the oldest children support the development of the youngest children in an almost ‘familial’ way. Early Years Educators in Italy must have a minimum qualification of a 3-year Degree to work with children aged 0-3 years. In contrast Educators of the 3-6 years olds Pre-school children are required to have a 5-year degree, this enables the educators to teach children up to age 11 within the Primary School System.

Similar to Irish culture, the family is at the heart of our traditions and theirs. The Early Years Education system in San Miniato not only values families, it also embraces and includes families in the activities in the centre. The parents attend workshops and create artefacts for display in the setting, they provide natural materials and resources for use within the setting and are the actors in the end of year dramatization of popular stories within the centres. Children are supported to engage in meaningful indoor and outdoor activities, predominantly child led. The use of natural materials within the settings afforded the opportunity of rich, open-ended activities, in which the child led the way, both individually and cooperatively. Their unique journey within the service is recorded in individual diaries from the moment of entry to the service until the child transitions to pre-school at the age of 3. Interestingly, when children enter pre-school at the age 3, classes are segregated by age. This is different to the vertical grouping within our pre-schools and to our Aistear Curriculum, and perhaps in this regard our way is better.

The San Miniato approach to the provision of Early Years Education for birth to 3-year olds offers food for thought around quality delivery for younger children in Ireland. Similar to the Montessori Approach, it lends itself to the belief that one should never do anything for a child that they can do for themselves. Perhaps as educators we inadvertently may do too much for children. Meal times within the schools that we had the privilege to visit were social times, with neatly laid tables of real delph and cutlery, glass jugs of water for the children to pour, serving dishes with serving spoons for children to use for each of the courses on offer. A true celebration of food, family and culture. It was an eye-opening experience to see the children navigate the activity with ease, while also supported by educators eating the same meal with the children. From an Irish Perspective, many aspects of our provision are excellent, particularly as we embrace the Aistear Curriculum Framework (NCCA, 2009) and Síolta, National Quality Framework (CECDE, 2006). However, the vision of the child from birth to 3 years as a protagonist of their learning, an independent capable child from the youngest and earliest moments gives food for reflection and thought, and warranted a visit to Ikea to purchase new resources such as real glasses and delph for our nursery, to reflect home from home at meal times! It was truly a worthwhile CPD experience and will influence future quality provision for the youngest children in our nurseries. Through the reciprocal opportunity to present and share the Irish Perspective of both Curriculum & Quality Frameworks to our hosts during our visit, hopefully we too can influence the quality of the early years provision (3-6 years) of our Italian neighbours.

 

Bio:

Susan Quirke-Crowley is a teacher with the Kerry College of Further Education where she currently delivers QQI Level 5 & 6 Modules on the Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes. She has completed the Masters of Science in Business and Management with the Institute of Public Administration in Dublin, a college of UCD. She qualified with a Postgraduate Diploma in Family Support from The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway and a BA in Early Childhood Care and Education, a Diploma in Early Childhood Studies and Practice and a Diploma in Adult Education & Training. Susan was formerly the LINC Tutor for Kerry with Mary Immaculate College and has an avid interest in Inclusive Practice within the Montessori Early Years Education Sector and was formerly National Coordinator of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme for Primary Schools developed by Nurture Entrepreneur, in partnership with the Curriculum Development Unit at Mary Immaculate College.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

christmas(8) Montessori(2) Christmas Creativity(2) Vertical grouping(1) early years research(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Learning Story(1) Potential(1) Photographs(1) Sculptures(1) environments(1) Home Corner(1) Primary School(2) Shoes(1) Norway(2) Motor neuron disease(1) Love(2) Nutrition(1) Inspirational(2) Family wall(1) respect(4) Glitter(2) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Obesity(1) Seas Suas(1) animals(2) Behaviour(3) Maths Week(1) Scents(1) Party(1) Pen green(1) Leargas(1) Performing(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Childcare(1) Thinking(1) Lego(2) Aistear(89) ICBN(1) AsIAm(1) National Pyjama Day(1) interacting(2) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Graduation(1) Self-regulation(1) Twitter(1) Line-ups(1) Mixed age groups(2) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) InspireMe.ie(1) Interests(1) Trigonometry(1) Mealtimes(1) Snack Time(1) reading(4) Rituals(1) Socioemotional development(1) planning(1) budget(1) Breathing(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) ERASMUS+(3) Care routines(1) mushrooms(1) Exclusion(1) Children's Research Network(1) Albert Einstein(1) Our Little Seed(1) babies(5) development(6) Penguins(1) Story(1) friendships(1) Window(1) Magnavacchi(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Maths(4) Síolta QAP(1) scéalta(22) Mo Scéal(1) toddlers(3) memories(1) preschool(2) Traffic Lights(1) First 5(1) Xbox(1) Scéalta Blog(69) INTO(1) Trade Unions(1) Treasure(1) DCYA(3) trust(2) Pobal sector profile(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Identity and Belonging(3) Administrative Burden(1) Wesco(1) Laughter(1) Relaxation(1) Empathy(1) Gardening(1) relationships(11) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Ceremony(1) journey(1) Wonder(1) Trade union(1) Snakes(1) Prexit(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Iraq(1) outdoor space(3) communication(4) Craft(1) Facebook(1) Quality(3) National Awards 2018(2) Engineering(2) educating(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) dining(1) listening(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) risk assessment(1) Orla Kenny(1) Treasure Chest(1) community(4) Through the looking glass(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) San Miniato(3) UNCRC(1) Autism(2) Favouritism(1) Meal time(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) listen(1) educarer(1) curiosity(3) Upcycling(1) Inclusion(1) Exploring(1) Afghanistan(1) Traditions(2) Biting(1) ears(1) grandchild(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) outdoors(3) Academics(1) Confident(1) Settling in(1) Belonging(3) dogs(1) Time(1) Wendy Lee(2) Engineers Week(2) Supernanny(1) Learning Story Awards(1) Role play(1) social media(1) Access and Inclusion Model(1) Qualifications(1) Síolta(84) Reggio(1) Mark Twain(1) Santa(2) Oireachtas(1) dining experiences(1) Loss(1) Drawing(2) Playschool(1) CPD(1) Funding(1) Art(6) Sequins(1) pets(1) Mathematicians(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) ReCreate(2) meals(3) routine(2) National Awards 2019(1) Impact(1) Running(1) Yoga(1) Sociodramatic play(1) IGL(1) Research Conference 2019(1) ECCE(5) transitions(9) First 5 strategy(1) Capable(1) Creativity(4) Fantasy play(1) overhear(1) Valentine's Day(3) Community involvement(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Kilkenny(1) Inter-generational learning(1) Mount Everest(1) Thank you(1) Affordability(1) science week(2) education(2) Arlene Forster(1) United Nations(1) RIE philosphy(1) documentation(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Competent(1) Giraffe(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Imagination(3) refugees(1) Jenga(1) NAEYC(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) risky play(2) EECERA 2016(1) Positivity(1) bonds(1) Certificate(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Builders(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Blocks(1) Arts(1) Educators(1) Sustainable(1) Names(1) Routines(1) Map(1) Meet the Members(1) Winter(1) Investment(1) Thanks(1) Event Guide(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Titles(1) Cork(1) Research Seminar(1) Margy Whalley(1) Identity(4) Trick or treat(1) Learning journals(1) Well-Being(3) Shapes(1) Games(1) Patterns(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) MECPI(1) Cognitive development(1) Online(1) Care-giving routines(1) Magic(1) Appreciation(1) Magda Gerber(1) Queues(1) Fabric(1) Pobal(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Mud kitchens(1) Culture(2) Early Years Educators(1) dublin(2) Playdough(1) Brain(1) baby room(1) Learning Stories(7) Sweets(1) NCCA(2) Touch(1) emotions(2) Children(1) Vietnam(1) Mayo(1) Degree(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(1) Masterclass(2) Halloween(2) University(1) eating(1) Music(1) Exercise(1) Weather(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Decision Making(1) under 3's(3) Plants(1) Smiles(1) Ariana Pucci(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Inter-generational(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Sustainability(3) Limerick(1) Time Out(1) MA(1) Leprechauns(1) Feeding(1) TOY Programme(1) Light table(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Wrapping paper(1) parents(5) stories(2) play(28) Professionalisation(4) Flowers(1) Communicating(1) Painting(1) Mantra(1) Childhood(1) Bereavement(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Awards(2) Independence(1) story time(1) Family(1) Irish(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) blog(27) play stories(1) Death(1) Self Help Skills(1) The Jelly King(1) Awards 2018(3) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) curriculum(5) Nuturing interactions(1) Easter(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Plastic(1) CIT(1) Graduate(1) role playing(1) Adoption(1) Training(2) UN(1) Consent(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Grief(1) conversations(1) Creative(1) Visitors(1) Arithmetic(1) books(4) Frustrations(1) Budget 2019(2) outdoor play(6) Mindfulness(1) Syria(1) Kids Own(1) experience(1) Decisions(1) Advocacy(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) research(5) Self-Esteem(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Sport(1) Environment(1) Exit interview(1) AIM(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) early childhood educator(1) Kerry(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Malaguzzi(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Teamwork(1) Recycling(2) Storytelling(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Policy(2) worries(1) GDPR(1) SPICE Framework(1) San Minia(1) Book Club(2) EM Standing(1) National Holiday(1) Snacks(1) Eritrea(1) STEM(2) Health(1) risk(2) linc(1) PIP(1) Italy(1) Technology(2) ECEC(1) food(1) Maynooth(1) Budget 2018(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) science(3) Maria Montessori(1) Wilenski(1) Celebrations(4) learning(14) Recycle(1) Children's Rights(1) College(1) feisty(1) Gratitude(1) Spiders(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Interactions(1) Maths Week Ireland(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine