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Shaping community involvement

By: ORLAGH DOYLE

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Sometimes life can throw us happy celebratory times and we know for sure life can throw some difficult and sad times too! In Carraig Briste & Killegney we understand that our connection and support with families through their involvement in our settings develops quality relationships, essential for creating learning and understanding environments for young children.

On a frosty day in February of this year, one of our preschool children Farrah announced, ‘Orlagh, do you know my grandad made the statutes, my daddy says he made all those ones that are in our school gardens’… I was intrigued and asked Farrah if it was OK for me to talk to her dad about our beautiful sculptures and she agreed that this was a good idea. Shortly afterwards, while Farrah’s class were on an outing in Enniscorthy with her mum and dad, the opportunity arose for me to ask Farrah’s parents more about the stone statues.

Farrah’s dad Mark explained that the sculptures were some of his dad’s final works before he developed motor neuron disease. He told of how his dad worked tirelessly in the business right until the end. With the physical limitations of motor neuron, Pat became more office based than his normal active self. Pat’s battle with motor neuron came to an end and sadly he passed away.

Mark explained that he had been driving past those sculptures for the last couple of years without realizing their significance. Until recently he noted they looked very like his dad’s work and with closer examination it transpired that they were indeed the work of the late Pat Dunne. I explained that I hadn’t known of their origin, and what a privilege it was to have these works in Carraig Briste. We chatted about much it meant for him and the Dunne family that Farrah and her brother Noah were somewhat in the company of their granddad every day in Carraig Briste. How lovely it was to see his dad’s work in our Davidstown Community. Mark said the sculptures had become a little worn and tired looking over the years. He asked if he could clean them up and repaint them in the summer time, in memory of his dad Pat. I of course agreed, and thanked Mark for sharing his family story and allowing us to be a part of it in Carraig Briste. 

I felt that this could be a really meaningful project for the children and Carriage Briste to embark on, in partnership with family, friends and community. I suggested it to Mark and he said he was really looking forward to the project and the opportunity to be involved with the children and the setting. In May 2018 the stone works were washed, scrubbed by all and finally painted in July 2018 with Farrah and Noah taking enormous pride in the work of their dad…. Farrah said, ‘My grandad went to heaven before I got born and now daddy is fixing them up again’. 

Two children painting a stone sculpture - Shaping community involvement

Dad Mark became immersed with the children as they discussed the possible colours of the girl’s dress and the boy’s shorts. Molly announces, ‘I like green’ and Stephanie asks, ‘are we all happy with a green one’, and complete agreement is reached upon by the children. 

Farrah says, ‘You know my grandad made these…yes and my daddy made a little bit of them too’!
Parents have lots to offer in our settings and we learn so much from the families, in fact in Carraig Briste & Killegney we consider our families as our best resource. There is no need for a special skill or language, we just welcome ordinary people who will chat, help, share, read a story and sing songs with us.

Our working partnership with family is based on the value of equal and yet different contributions of parents and us as educators. It is a joy to see how families spend time observing their children in our settings, and how a partnership approach develops, when practical information on their child is shared. The more informed and involved our families are the stronger our relationships become. 

The Dunne family is, without question, testimony to that. Family and educators bring unique elements to the home/ setting. Parents know about the home situation, their extended family, and significant people in the child’s life, culture, health, history adversities and issues related to the individual child (Fitzgerald, 2004) 

To the Dunne family who make an enormous contribution in our settings every week with their time, optimism and good will we say thank you and we look forward to working with your family for many years to come. Mark, Vanessa, and granny Anne think it was a privilege to share the special story of Farrah and Noah’s granddad Pat and our sculptures with the children, families and wider community of Davidstown and Enniscorthy. 

 

Bio:
Orlagh Doyle, along with her husband James, lead a team of twenty- five early years educators in their settings in Carriage Briste & Killegney. Orlagh’s love and passion for early years began in 2003 and has evolved and blossomed to its success of today. Her philosophy is influenced by both herself and James who been brought up in farming backgrounds. Orlagh trained as a St Nicholas Montessori teacher many decades ago, and is working towards her Masters later on this year. As a team in both settings, they constantly engage in continuous professional development, which is reflected in the quality of care and education they provide. The pedagogy and ideals of Carraig Briste & Killegney Early Years are based upon seeing children as capable, resourceful individuals, with a strong voice deserving of the utmost respect in their enabling indoor and outdoor spaces. They love creating beautiful environments in Carraig Briste & Killegney. Their settings are influenced by Reggio Emilia and this sits very well with their Montessori approach. Their settings are gifted with large outdoor spaces which support their love of all year- round outdoor experiences for children.

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