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Stories from the Heart


Tuesday 17 October 2017

When I set out on my journey writing learning stories I felt very anxious. Would I know what to write? Would I know what to look for? Did I have the right words to explain the story? I soon discovered the more I did it, the more comfortable I became with the process. I realised you can’t get it wrong if you are writing from the heart and writing about what happens. Later, when I had the confidence to share the stories with parents and my colleagues, the stories took on a whole new meaning for me, as I suddenly realised I was making memories for children and parents, memories they would have for years to come.


Our story “Follow Your Dreams”, which won the Early Childhood Ireland Learning Story award in June of this year, will forever be a cherished memory for everyone in the Clare Family Resource Centre. What started out as two boys playing with blocks and a simple conversation about mountains, soon took our entire centre and our community on a journey together that would lead us all to the top of Mount Everest. John Burke from County Clare, summited Mount Everest to raise money for the youth of Clare. He felt they needed to be encouraged to reach their full potential and to know that dreams do come true. Having him come to visit our centre with his story of Everest gave us all the amazing opportunity to reach children in the early years with that same message, because let’s face it, the early years are the most vulnerable and impressionable years of a child’s learning journey.


Wendy Lee, speaking at the Early Childhood Ireland Conference in September, asked us to imagine a child, opening their book/ learning journal in 20 or 30 years’ time wondering:

Who was I when I was 4 years old?
What were my interests?
What was in my soul?


Imagine that child then reading a letter or a story written to them from you, and getting the answers to those very questions…. now that is powerful! Since meeting Wendy, I have taken on some of her wise advice and I recently got this reply from a parent of a non-verbal child after they had a taken home their child’s book “Thank you Maxine, it’s just brilliant to be able to picture my son’s day. It gives me a great link until he can actually tell me himself”.

Remember a learning story can come from something as simple as a gust of wind, you just need to be open to see it and explore through a child’s eyes.


Maxine Ryan has worked with Clare Family Resource Centre for about 15 years. She has worked with children of all ages and qualified as a Montessori teacher a few years back and has been doing that ever since. She is also an accredited Incredible Years mentor and delivers the Programme and mentoring trained staff in a few different settings within Clare. She also recently passed the LINC Programme and has just started a new role as inclusion officer in CFRC and is really enjoying it. Maxine recently spoke about her Learning Story journey at the Early Childhood Ireland Celebrating Children’s Stories conference in September.

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