Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Singing your praises

Carol Duffy


Tuesday 20 March 2018

In my corner of the office it’s not unusual to hear me yelp with excitement, laugh out loud, or have tears streaming down my face (sometimes all at once). Often, I am stunned into silent reflection, affected and humbled by the capacity and humanity of you, the early years professionals, who share your stories of practice with us. My colleagues are used to me at this stage. But I blame it all on you, what else do you expect when jumping off the screen or page in front of me is some of the most inspiring practice in the country. Most often it’s the simple yet deeply meaningful things that get you, like a child’s love of family, their excitement in play, or a moment of true connection.


My role on the Early Childhood Ireland Awards programme team is one element of my job which has been particularly meaningful and inspiring. I have been fortunate to be one of the adjudicating team since its inception in 2010. I have had the privilege of seeing these awards grow and develop from small beginnings to the National Awards they are today. With this privilege comes a responsibility that is not lost on me. The hours I have spent agonising over decisions is, as I well know, nothing in comparison to the hours of effort, work, and commitment that you, the early years educators and carers, put into these stories of innovation, inspiration, and learning. Your stories of practice are as diverse and individual as yourselves and the communities in which you live. What is common across all submissions is the dedication, and commitment you put into your work. You go to amazing lengths to ensure that what you offer your children are early years experiences that meet your high values and beliefs and their childhood rights.

I have seen how your appreciation of children’s knowledge, capabilities, or empathy moves you to submit your stories, how a training course or CPD has inspired changes in practice, how a love of nature and place has offered some new possibilities, how other innovative inspiring stories have inspired you to action. This year in particular I see a growing trend, our sector is moving out of rooms, outdoors, out into the community. Reconnecting with people and place, reclaiming the young child’s visibility in the community.


So often as is the nature of many early years professionals you downplay your own considerable contributions to these inspiring practices, humble, sometimes even oblivious, to the centrality of your own wonderful skills, knowledge and heart. You submit a story in which you profusely acknowledge children’s capabilities and experiences. You are taken aback when I give you positive feedback about your own wonderful attributes. These are the good parts of the job. The harder parts are choosing a winner when all deserve recognition, or having to disappoint others who may have been so excited and proud of their submission with feedback on why it doesn’t quite make the grade this time. The calibre and work ethic of people who work in this often undervalued sector is quite frankly inspiring.


As a final reflection, we in Early Childhood Ireland believe our award winners are indicative of the growing quality within the sector, as year on year the award-winning practice reaches new highs. The increasing capacity of educators to competently and knowledgeably articulate the what, why, and how of their work is also evident. These stories are at the cutting edge of practice, they have been presented at National and International conferences and platforms, but most importantly they have enriched the lives of the children and families you share your working life with. We know there is wonderful inspiring practice being delivered across the country that we have yet to hear about. We are always delighted to welcome new entrants and encourage you to submit your story.


On a personal note I would like to thank all of our award entrants in equal measure some of you have been with us from our humble beginnings to date, for others it is a new experience and achievement. Over these years you have educated me, inspired me, and enriched my teaching as I share your stories of quality practice with others who are on learning journeys of their own.



Carol Duffy (MA in Early Years Education) is an Early Childhood Specialist with Early Childhood Ireland. She has worked in the sector for over thirty five years, as an early year’s educator, lecturer, and mentor. She is passionate about young children’s access to nature and outdoor play. She is also an advocate for meaningful observation and documentation that motivates educators and showcases children’s lives, loves, and learning. 

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Iceland(1) art of the relationship(1) books(4) UD(1) Kindness(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Laugh(1) Facebook(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) CIT(1) Teamwork(1) early years research(2) Document Learning(1) Art(6) Research Conference 2019(1) Pobal(1) Communicating(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Photographs(1) inspiring interactions(1) Equality(1) Frustrations(1) Health(2) purpose(1) MA(1) Visual Impairment(1) Trade union(1) preschool(4) DCYA(6) Rising to the Challenge(2) Painting(1) Running(1) risk(2) Reading Time(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Mount Everest(1) TRAP(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) curiosity(3) Inclusion(3) respect(5) Maria Montessori(1) Learning Journal(2) Syria(1) Seanchaí(1) Thanks(1) Childhood(1) Patterns(1) Kids Own(1) youdoodle(1) Weather(1) conference(1) Event Guide(1) learners(1) Nutrition(1) Awards Night(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Engineering(3) keezy(1) relationships(18) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Exploring(1) Wesco(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Jenga(1) mushrooms(1) ECEC Setting(2) Book Review(1) child-centred approach(1) code of ethics(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Santa(2) School Age Childcare(1) blog(53) pets(1) play stories(2) transitions(10) Death(2) National Childcare Scheme(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) outdoor play(6) Love(3) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Participation(2) Traffic Lights(1) Arts(1) experience(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Our Little Seed(1) behavioural science(1) Vietnam(1) listening(1) annual conference(1) Mental Health(4) Learning Story(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) early childhood educator(2) collaboration(1) Fabric(1) phone apps(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) AIM(2) Names(1) Large Doll Play(1) Afghanistan(1) Pretend Play(1) Upcycling(1) Scents(1) Síolta(137) COVID-19 landscape(1) ECEC(3) Qualifications(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Time(1) children development(1) SPICE Framework(1) parents(6) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) IGL(1) Creative(1) early years learning(1) Síolta QAP(1) UNICEF report(1) Playdough(1) Story(2) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Buddies(1) reading(5) Map(1) play pod(1) National Awards 2018(2) Engagement(1) College(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Maths Week(1) Diversity(1) Sweets(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Social Skills(1) Pedagogy(2) Flowers(1) supportive environments(2) children’s learning(1) Decision Making(1) democratic citizens(1) RTE Investigates(1) Professionalisation(5) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Degree(1) early childhood(1) The Jelly King(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Reggio(1) Family(1) trust(4) Inspirational(2) friendships(1) peer group(1) Mindfulness(3) Wrapping paper(1) Mud kitchens(1) New Appointments(1) Rich Documentation(1) Iraq(1) Albert Einstein(1) Plants(1) preschool settings(1) Funding(1) National Pyjama Day(1) journey(1) Smiles(1) budget(1) Nuturing interactions(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Snacks(1) primary education(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) Giraffe(2) Opportunities(1) Celebrations(4) Craft(1) Summer(1) risky play(2) education system(1) Confident(1) Meal time(1) Norway(2) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Blocks(1) Bereavement(2) Loss(1) Montessori(3) Inspections(1) family time(1) Storytelling(7) Margy Whalley(1) Digital Devices(1) Return to Work Training(1) Glitter(2) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Human Resources(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Well-Being(10) annual awards(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) risk assessment(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Identity and Belonging(4) SAC(1) Masterclass(2) Child mental health(1) Learning journals(1) staying connected(1) Gardening(1) Behaviour(3) MECPI(1) dublin(2) Learning Stories Award(3) online training(1) community(5) gender bias(1) Thinking(1) Budget 2019(2) listen(1) Wilenski(1) Shoes(1) Interests(1) racism(1) Gratitude(1) Elders(1) Performing(1) Touch(1) an post(1) Kilkenny(1) Horizon 2020(1) multi-generational community(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) june29(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) playleader(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Children and families(1) Small World Play(1) Builders(1) National Holiday(1) educating(1) Universal Design(2) story time(2) Mo Scéal(1) Pre-School Services(1) Identity(5) Visitors(1) Self-regulation(1) bloom app(1) Reopening Childcare(1) NCCA(3) Imagination(3) Creativity(6) Early Years Education(1) healthy eating policies(1) awards 2020(1) Grief(1) responsive relationships(1) International Narratives(1) Laughter(1) Investment(2) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Exclusion(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Vertical grouping(1) babies(7) structure(1) science week(2) Inter-generational(2) Infectious diseases(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Policy(2) Children(4) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Budget 2018(1) Snakes(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Performance Management(1) Mark Twain(1) Administrative Burden(1) Learning through Storytelling(1) Exit interview(1) Covid pandemic(2) Covid response(2) Maternity Leave(1) Titles(1) Anthony Semann(1) Valentine's Day(3) Pobal sector profile(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Autism(4) Reggio Emilia(2) Through the looking glass(1) HR(1) Dance(1) Appreciation(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) educarer(1) Sessional service(1) Competent(1) gender stereotype(1) Treasure Chest(1) ECCE(7) Potential(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) planning(1) Meet the Members(1) Early Childhood Education(1) Spiders(1) development(8) Xbox(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) creche(1) San Miniato(4) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Ariana Pucci(1) democracy(1) Online Research Symposium(1) University(1) Queues(1) Nonverbal(1) Rituals(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) life long learning(1) coronavirus(1) Sustainability(3) Design(1) reopening ireland(1) Learning Stories(9) Trick or treat(1) Adoption(1) Malaguzzi(1) baby room(1) Snack Time(1) Quality(4) Buddy Bench(1) Brain(1) outdoors(4) Obesity(1) Sleep(1) early years settings(1) Body Language(1) Ceremony(1) social science(1) Easter(1) Siolta blog(8) learning bias(1) curriculum(5) Awards 2018(3) First 5 strategy(1) Italy(1) Mantra(1) ReCreate(2) Proceedings Journal(1) imotion(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) dining(1) Awards 2019(1) Maths(6) Orla Kenny(1) Magic(1) Family wall(1) Settling in(4) Infection Control(1) Exploratory Play(1) early life(1) Intention(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) man up(1) Prexit(1) EM Standing(1) Scéalta Blog(104) Engineering Ireland(1) Care routines(1) Digital(1) Celebrate(1) conversations(1) Sport(1) Role play(1) EECERA 2016(1) research submissions(1) movement behaviours(1) eating(1) under 3's(3) Environment(2) ICBN(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Mealtimes(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Halloween(2) Community involvement(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Educators(2) GDPR(1) Routines(2) emotions(2) Traditions(2) Confidence(1) Advocacy(1) play therapy(1) Employee(1) Certificate(1) Trade Unions(1) animals(2) Feeding(1) Biting(1) Recycle(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) overhear(1) Leargas(1) outdoor space(3) Research Seminar(1) Staff Motivation(1) scéalta(56) code of professional responsibility(1) developing motor skills(1) RIE philosphy(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Change(1) aistear blog(3) Culture(2) Study Trip(1) memories(1) Twitter(1) Tuscan Approach(2) EECERA(1) Socioemotional development(1) Supernanny(1) Academic Skills(1) COVID-19(14) play pods(2) Yoga(1) Shapes(2) play(35) Aistear(130) emotional well-being(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Eritrea(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Stress(2) Children's Voice(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) UNCRC(2) Consent(1) World Health Organisation(1) Independence(1) pablo(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Plastic(1) interacting(2) education(2) Kindness Challenge(1) Window(1) Wonder(1) Communications(1) Wendy Lee(3) Looking Back(1) lockdown(1) toddlers(3) Games(1) Drawing(2) CPD(1) Maynooth(1) Graduation(1) Reflective Practice(1) Treasure(1) Mathematicians(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Japan(1) apps for children(1) Workforce(1) Pen green(1) Penguins(1) learning(19) continual professional development(1) United Nations(1) Counting(1) Sequins(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Belonging(3) Your place(1) Mayo(1) STEM(3) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Thank you(1) role playing(1) ERASMUS+(3) Positivity(1) Home Corner(1) refugees(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Winter(1) Inspiring Practice(1) child-centric(1) CCTV(1) Academics(1) Early Years(1) Magda Gerber(1) ECIAwards20(1) Building Resilience(1) Capable(1) European Project(1) Liz Kerrins(1) feisty(1) NAEYC(1) bonds(1) Children's Rights(3) Effect of Lockdown(1) E.coli(1) christmas(9) Child Care(1) worries(1) Impact(1) Budget 2020(1) Workplace Relations(3) environments(1) Little Buddies(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Early Years Educators(3) grandchild(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Engineers Week(2) reopening(1) Loving Relationships(2) Exercise(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Primary School(3) outdoor environment(1) Playschool(1) value(1) keep in touch(1) AsIAm(2) mental health problems(1) TOY Programme(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Leadership(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) social media(2) Irish(1) childcare services(1) linc(1) Fee Play(1) Empathy(1) Affordability(1) communication(4) learning hub(1) Interaction(1) Relaxation(1) stories(3) Training(2) Childcare(3) dining experiences(1) research(6) Motor neuron disease(1) Arlene Forster(1) Line-ups(1) Whole Group(1) ELC(1) Online(1) Youtube Series(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) quarantine(1) Maynooth University(2) First 5(1) Kerry(1) Technology(3) Fantasy play(1) National Awards 2019(1) meals(3) Mixed age groups(3) food(1) Irish guidelines(1) Support(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Time Out(1) Awards(2) DES Inspection(1) Sculptures(1) social media policy(1) ears(1) Limerick(1) Lego(2) Favouritism(1) Decisions(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Oireachtas(1) Cork(1) iOS(1) Seas Suas(1) Challenges(1) PIP(1) Cognitive development(1) Book Club(2) Sustainable(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Self Help Skills(1) Anxiety(2) Inter-generational learning(2) show and tell(1) emotional environment(2) Self-Esteem(1) Breathing(2) Light table(1) dogs(1) Trigonometry(1) Recycling(2) INTO(1) Party(1) Graduate(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Interactions(3) Leprechauns(1) science(3) Children's Research Network(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Workplace well-being(1) documentation(4) Looking Forward(1) maternity health(1) Care-giving routines(1) Arithmetic(1) Music(3) Educator of the Year Award(3) Magnavacchi(1) UN(1) routine(2)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine