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:

Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Window(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Winter(1) early years research(2) Music(3) learning(19) Trigonometry(1) Mathematicians(1) Sessional service(1) Exit interview(1) preschool(4) Inter-generational(2) Early Years(1) Learning journals(1) gender stereotype(1) Maternity Leave(1) early years learning(1) Party(1) dining experiences(1) Support(1) Self Help Skills(1) Primary School(2) Well-Being(9) Titles(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Cognitive development(1) Behaviour(3) Kilkenny(1) Youtube Series(1) Pre-School Services(1) keezy(1) early childhood educator(2) stories(3) christmas(9) Anxiety(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Cork(1) risk assessment(1) Afghanistan(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) TOY Programme(1) Italy(1) Role play(1) Rituals(1) Mealtimes(1) The Jelly King(1) supportive environments(2) Capable(1) Interaction(1) friendships(1) College(1) National Awards 2018(2) bloom app(1) Training(2) Snacks(1) Family wall(1) Vertical grouping(1) Mo Scéal(1) overhear(1) New Appointments(1) RIE philosphy(1) CIT(1) Socioemotional development(1) Shapes(1) Wonder(1) Valentine's Day(3) ELC(1) Celebrate(1) show and tell(1) documentation(4) mushrooms(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Story(1) conversations(1) Our Little Seed(1) Pobal sector profile(1) CPD(1) Kerry(1) Twitter(1) Scéalta Blog(99) Community involvement(1) Mud kitchens(1) Magnavacchi(1) ERASMUS+(3) linc(1) Child mental health(1) Child Care(1) Reggio(1) Opportunities(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) UD(1) UNCRC(2) Glitter(2) listening(1) Summer(1) Children(4) awards 2020(1) Arts(1) Japan(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Penguins(1) budget(1) journey(1) Time Out(1) PIP(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Appreciation(1) Albert Einstein(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) listen(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Malaguzzi(1) Reading Time(1) conference(1) Autism(4) NCCA(3) ECCE(7) Upcycling(1) Study Trip(1) Diversity(1) art of the relationship(1) University(1) childcare services(1) Facebook(1) ICBN(1) Running(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Leargas(1) gender bias(1) Qualifications(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Infectious diseases(1) staying connected(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) structure(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Eritrea(1) story time(2) Administrative Burden(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Adoption(1) Spiders(1) COVID-19(5) Digital(1) Awards 2019(1) Snack Time(1) Change(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) San Miniato(4) Relaxation(1) Orla Kenny(1) COVID-19 Reopening(1) Meal time(1) Routines(2) early life(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Wrapping paper(1) outdoor space(3) Pobal(1) june29(1) baby room(1) Inspirational(2) research(6) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Technology(3) Laughter(1) code of ethics(1) Potential(1) Gratitude(1) Maths(5) Super Shed Stories(2) annual conference(1) Academics(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Yoga(1) Impact(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Arlene Forster(1) children development(1) Magda Gerber(1) science week(2) Nonverbal(1) Confident(1) Trade Unions(1) Care routines(1) Maynooth(1) Policy(2) feisty(1) Mindfulness(2) Environment(2) Settling in(4) Prexit(1) Educators(2) Line-ups(1) Time(1) science(3) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Buddies(1) environments(1) Children's Rights(3) Maria Montessori(1) Degree(1) food(1) Employee(1) Flowers(1) Learning Story(1) routine(2) National Pyjama Day(1) blog(34) developing motor skills(1) primary education(1) Mental Health(3) Social Skills(1) Love(2) communication(4) pets(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Graduation(1) Childhood(1) Whole Group(1) Art(6) Arithmetic(1) Book Club(2) School Age Childcare(1) Empathy(1) DES Inspection(1) Family(1) Montessori(3) Leadership(1) Playdough(1) Games(1) SPICE Framework(1) Workforce(1) Document Learning(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) youdoodle(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Smiles(1) emotions(2) Limerick(1) Fee Play(1) Children's Voice(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Painting(1) Event Guide(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Trade union(1) Nutrition(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Shoes(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Quality(4) Health(2) Sustainable(1) Aistear(121) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Motor neuron disease(1) social science(1) community(5) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Your place(1) Biting(1) Building Resilience(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Research Seminar(1) Consent(1) Creativity(4) Exploring and Thinking(1) books(4) social media(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Self-regulation(1) Buddy Bench(1) planning(1) dublin(2) Blocks(1) phone apps(1) Children and families(1) Mark Twain(1) child-centric(1) Through the looking glass(1) man up(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Children's Research Network(1) Oireachtas(1) RTE Investigates(1) AsIAm(2) Obesity(1) Dance(1) Horizon 2020(1) First 5 strategy(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Engineering Ireland(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) development(8) Design(1) Jenga(1) Sweets(1) Supernanny(1) Interactions(2) Deirdre Rogers(1) behavioural science(1) keep in touch(1) preschool settings(1) Workplace well-being(1) Touch(1) Inspections(1) Engagement(1) Learning Stories(9) Funding(1) Digital Devices(1) Plants(1) purpose(1) Little Buddies(1) movement behaviours(1) Intention(1) play stories(2) Photographs(1) Learning Stories Award(3) continual professional development(1) Grief(1) respect(5) E.coli(1) UN(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Communicating(1) Engineering(3) Identity(5) Competent(1) Loss(1) Exercise(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) aistear blog(3) Academic Skills(1) Patterns(1) Home Corner(1) Early Years Educators(3) Snakes(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Brain(1) STEM(3) Visual Impairment(1) Maynooth University(2) AIM(2) Thank you(1) Performance Management(1) dining(1) First 5(1) Margy Whalley(1) Xbox(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) reopening ireland(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Hand Hygiene(2) learning bias(1) iOS(1) Inclusion(3) MA(1) Laugh(1) Communications(1) Graduate(1) Recycle(1) ears(1) Stress(2) Irish(1) maternity health(1) United Nations(1) Advocacy(1) Meet the Members(1) Drawing(2) Book Review(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Pen green(1) Easter(1) Positivity(1) Awards Night(1) Staff Motivation(1) Mount Everest(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Covid pandemic(1) Lego(2) Map(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) apps for children(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) research submissions(1) Norway(2) Dr. Emer Ring(1) reading(5) interacting(2) Learning Journal(2) Budget 2019(2) NAEYC(1) Sustainability(3) Confidence(1) Childcare(3) play pods(1) Investment(2) Christmas Creativity(2) Fabric(1) Santa(2) family time(1) Awards(2) Gardening(1) child-centred approach(1) Magic(1) Vietnam(1) play therapy(1) Affordability(1) Early Childhood Ireland(2) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Scents(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Frustrations(1) outdoors(3) Pedagogical leaders(1) Playschool(1) Challenges(1) Awards 2018(3) Research and Professional Learning(1) Wilenski(1) ReCreate(2) Visitors(1) Giraffe(2) INTO(1) Light table(1) Masterclass(2) MECPI(1) Participation(2) Death(2) Growing up Outdoors(1) Decisions(1) EM Standing(1) Wesco(1) SAC(1) memories(1) Treasure Chest(1) under 3's(3) Mantra(1) DCYA(4) Certificate(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Recycling(2) Síolta(117) education(2) Bereavement(2) Trick or treat(1) eating(1) Reflective Practice(1) worries(1) Síolta QAP(1) Interests(1) Feeding(1) transitions(10) Sequins(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Syria(1) Pedagogy(1) Performing(1) Craft(1) Self-Esteem(1) collaboration(1) Names(1) Fantasy play(1) Exclusion(1) Favouritism(1) dogs(1) Exploring(1) Mayo(1) scéalta(37) refugees(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Storytelling(6) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Engineers Week(2) toddlers(3) Reggio Children Network(1) Weather(1) Treasure(1) GDPR(1) play pod(1) Decision Making(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Online(1) Celebrations(4) EECERA 2016(1) Sport(1) emotional environment(2) Traditions(2) pablo(1) ECEC Setting(2) National Awards 2019(1) babies(7) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Professionalisation(5) Body Language(1) TRAP(1) learners(1) Breathing(2) Plastic(1) Traffic Lights(1) Ceremony(1) Maths Week(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Thanks(1) Care-giving routines(1) Mixed age groups(2) Iraq(1) animals(2) The Lullaby Book(1) lockdown(1) meals(3) experience(1) Sculptures(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Independence(1) Sociodramatic play(1) outdoor play(6) imotion(1) Sleep(1) Belonging(3) risk(2) Queues(1) educarer(1) bonds(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) trust(4) educating(1) Siolta blog(8) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Research Conference 2019(1) Infection Control(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Budget 2018(1) curiosity(3) Wendy Lee(3) ECEC(2) play(34) IGL(1) parents(6) Leprechauns(1) Rich Documentation(1) Thinking(1) National Holiday(1) life long learning(1) healthy eating policies(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Seas Suas(1) Creative(1) Teamwork(1) Elders(1) Halloween(2) Iceland(1) Imagination(3) relationships(17) grandchild(1) Builders(1) Universal Design(2) role playing(1) HR(1) Workplace Relations(3) Special Needs Assistants(1) Culture(2) CCTV(1) value(1) risky play(2) Kids Own(1) Human Resources(1) Leaders in Practice(1) European Project(1) Budget 2020(1) curriculum(5)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine