Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

The walls have ears – How does political debate or “adult” dialogue impact on young children’s lives?


Tuesday 01 November 2016

It is just amazing how much children hear or assimilate. Watching children engrossed in play one would not expect they are aware of all the things happening or being said in their surrounding environment. I think back to my own childhood and I am struck by recollections which are embedded in my mind as a result of overhearing conversations between adults. You were never told, you just heard!! Not eaves dropping, just present during the conversation which was not for children’s ears. I did hear the conversations and the content of these conversations influenced the opinions I formed about people, places, things and events in an adult world.


As I am here in Boston for my Fulbright Scholarship, I attended a seminar; Innovations in Early childhood, at Lesley University Boston. The seminar was titled:

"If Trump wins, my family will have to go back to El Salvador…" Talking to Young Children about the Election (and other challenging topics)


The discussion at the seminar reflected how we as educators support children to navigate and express their opinions, worries ritablog2and /or fears? We were questioning if we reflect sufficiently on the impact and influence on children’s wellbeing of political and policy debate, wherever we are in the world?


The reality in Ireland, the US or any country is that children are exposed to conversations and discussions which potentially impact on their lives and wellbeing and they are trying to make sense of what they are hearing. Some of the comments that educators made to highlight children’s concerns in US preschools and schools included:  “How are you going to stop the wall” William age 7 years asked.


Other comments from children included: “I think it is unfair that Trump wants native Americans to leave this country” and “Hillary is a liar; she will have to go to jail”.

An educator spoke about a child having nightmares in case his family is sent back to Bangladesh. Children are having conversations in school and in preschool with their friends, they are confused and in many cases frightened. Other challenging questions children ask were highlighted; “Your mom wears a scarf over her face, does that mean she is a terrorist” asked a 4 year old. Another young child said “The police are bad they took my uncle away”.



I am sure as early childhood professionals in Ireland you have been asked questions which  challenge you.


 Encouraging children to ask questions and providing a safe space for children to work things out is important.  Children need to know that the educator has time and will listen respectfully to their questions and discussions. As educators we listen with our ears but we also take notice  of children’s body language and affirm their feelings and emotions. We can try to answer  children’s questions, but sometimes we do not know the answer. It’s ok to say “I don't know,  but we will figure it out together”. Working with families is crucial, talking with parents about  their child’s concerns and working together to ensure that the child feels safe and knows that  he/ she has someone to talk to. Seeing the child as competent and recognising the child’s need  to know about the macro influences which affect his or her life makes a good educator a great  educator!!

Please share your thoughts on supporting children to understand things happening in the world.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

social media policy(1) Magda Gerber(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) experience(1) Pobal(1) Anxiety(2) Building Resilience(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Traffic Lights(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Self Help Skills(1) Bereavement(2) Hand Hygiene(2) Empathy(1) Interaction(1) an post(1) Arlene Forster(1) Document Learning(1) DES Inspection(1) children’s learning(1) RIE philosphy(1) Playdough(1) Performance Management(1) CCTV(1) Professionalisation(5) apps for children(1) Thanks(1) Self-regulation(1) Impact(1) communication(4) Valerie Gaynor(1) San Miniato(4) Síolta QAP(1) Inspirational(2) Elders(1) Sessional service(1) Decisions(1) Super Shed Stories(2) UK Government(1) Self-Esteem(1) Flowers(1) GDPR(1) Kindness Challenge(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) Santa(2) SAC(1) Covid response(2) Capable(1) imotion(1) child-centred approach(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) overhear(1) online training(1) Reflective Practice(1) early childhood(1) inspiring interactions(1) Our Little Seed(1) Decision Making(1) Pen green(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Treasure(1) Primary School(3) Event Guide(1) quarantine(2) Reggio(1) Exercise(1) DCYA(6) Margy Whalley(1) Fee Play(1) listen(1) documentation(4) Line-ups(1) Learning Stories Award(3) journey(1) Adoption(1) Sequins(1) SPICE Framework(1) Children's Voice(1) early years settings(1) research submissions(1) Dance(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Family(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Time(1) Trigonometry(1) Smiles(1) primary education(1) keep in touch(1) respect(5) play pod(1) quarantine kids(1) Awards 2018(3) scéalta(58) Maynooth(1) Learning Story Awards(2) christmas(9) TRAP(1) animals(2) Summer(2) College(1) Return to Work(1) Well-Being(10) First 5 strategy(1) Vietnam(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Mo Scéal(1) AIM(2) Breathing(2) Leadership(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Snakes(1) Cognitive development(1) Recycle(1) Exit interview(1) Engineering(3) Kerry(1) Looking Forward(1) behavioural science(1) Change(1) Masterclass(2) European Project(1) learning bias(1) development(9) phone apps(1) Rich Documentation(1) ELC(1) E.coli(1) Love(3) social science(1) Children's Research Network(2) reopening ireland(1) Learning Stories(9) reopening(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) EM Standing(1) Covid19 crisis(1) friendships(1) Pedagogy(2) Qualifications(1) emotions(2) Anthony Semann(1) Growing up Outdoors(2) Dr. Emer Ring(1) MECPI(1) Drawing(2) maternity health(1) Learning journals(1) conversations(1) play pods(2) annual conference(1) Early Childhood Education(1) Weather(1) Support(1) Scéalta Blog(106) Storytelling(8) outdoors(4) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Blocks(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Online Research Symposium(3) Irish(1) Wilenski(1) Maynooth University(2) Tuscan Approach(2) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Equality(1) First 5(1) dublin(2) democratic citizens(1) Infectious diseases(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) play therapy(1) Imagination(3) trust(4) upskilling(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) under 3's(3) Traditions(2) Children's Book Club(1) Aistear(132) guardian(1) Visitors(1) relationships(18) Regulation 23(1) Mathematicians(1) Seanchaí(1) Child mental health(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Kindness(1) Communications(1) Diversity(1) ERASMUS+(3) Identity(5) Challenges(1) Inspections(1) early years learning(1) Sweets(1) Trade Unions(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) Looking Back(1) Book Review(1) Wesco(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Nuturing interactions(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Loss(1) ECEC(4) Training(3) youdoodle(1) democracy(1) stories(3) Technology(3) GoToMeeting app(1) Care-giving routines(1) Awards Night(1) Brain(1) Early Years Educators(3) Investment(2) World book day(1) Europe(1) june29(1) Appreciation(1) Syria(1) partnership(1) child safeguarding(1) Arts(1) Workplace well-being(1) continual professional development(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Settling in(4) partnership with families(1) story time(2) Book Club(2) Prexit(1) bloom app(1) Celebrations(4) Children's Rights(3) books(5) Exploratory Play(1) MA(1) Workforce(1) Pobal sector profile(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) racism(1) UNCRC(2) child-centric(1) outdoor play(7) United Nations(1) Recycling(2) IGL(1) EECERA(1) International Narratives(1) Intention(1) lockdown(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) COVID-19(18) Nonverbal(1) timekeeping skills(1) CPD(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Through the looking glass(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) learning hub(2) TOY Programme(1) Sustainability(3) interacting(2) Awards 2019(1) World Health Organisation(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) refugees(1) risk(2) outdoor environment(1) Research Seminar(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) New Appointments(1) Iceland(2) Autism(4) Communicating(1) COVID(3) creche(1) Japan(1) Kids Own(1) School Age Childcare(2) Mixed age groups(3) worldbookday(1) planning(1) Degree(1) Graduation(1) Funding(1) Online(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) peer group(1) Afghanistan(1) Light table(1) Childcare(3) Thank you(1) Mayo(1) University(1) Academics(1) Belonging(3) Patterns(1) Shapes(2) Penguins(1) gender stereotype(1) budget(1) staying connected(1) risk assessment(1) emotional environment(2) Inspiring Practice(1) Learning through Storytelling(2) Story(2) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Body Language(1) Thinking(1) Environment(2) Early Learning and Care(2) Community involvement(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) pets(1) Queues(1) Certificate(1) outdoor space(3) Wendy Lee(4) Maths Week Ireland(1) Running(1) Games(2) HR(1) UD(1) social media(2) babies(7) Design(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Orla Kenny(1) early years research(3) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) grandchild(1) natural environment(1) Child Care(1) Digital(1) Malaguzzi(1) code of ethics(1) Nutrition(1) Obesity(1) Meet the Members(1) Frustrations(1) Vertical grouping(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Nordic model(1) listening(1) collaboration(1) Digital Devices(1) Sculptures(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Shoes(1) Snack Time(1) Italy(1) Giraffe(2) multi-generational community(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Yoga(1) Skillnet(1) Spiders(1) Albert Einstein(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Social Skills(1) Your place(1) Mantra(1) Cork(1) Montessori(3) aistear blog(3) bonds(1) child led(1) Teamwork(1) Horizon 2020(1) education(2) Mindfulness(3) Upcycling(1) children development(1) science(3) Christmas Creativity(2) show and tell(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) learning(19) research(8) Graduate(1) Behaviour(3) Seas Suas(1) Little Buddies(1) educating(1) pablo(1) Health(2) Interests(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) STEAM(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Proceedings Journal(1) Fire Safety(1) Budget 2020(1) annual awards(1) Children(8) scientific and artistic processes(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) QRF(1) Confident(1) Visual Impairment(1) Administrative Burden(1) Playschool(1) baby room(1) Gratitude(1) ICBN(1) Art(6) Universal Design(2) COVID-19 crisis(1) gender bias(1) Mark Twain(1) iOS(1) UK(1) curiosity(3) Engineers Week(2) life long learning(1) Study Trip(1) Sustainable(1) TUSLA(1) toddlers(3) Deirdre Rogers(1) role playing(1) Maths Week(1) Inter-generational(2) Magic(1) ReCreate(2) Independence(1) Builders(1) Infection Control(1) Kilkenny(1) parents(7) Reopening Childcare(1) man up(1) Biting(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) early childhood educator(2) Human Resources(1) Maths(6) Rituals(1) responsive relationships(1) Valentine's Day(3) Employee(1) Fantasy play(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Ceremony(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Exclusion(1) Creative(1) early childhood ireland research(1) National Awards 2019(1) Titles(1) Grief(1) Feeding(1) Stress(2) Creativity(7) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Treasure Chest(1) Large Doll Play(1) Engagement(1) AsIAm(2) Supernanny(1) presentation skills(1) Reggio Emilia(2) Policy(2) Snacks(1) ECCE(7) Counting(1) mushrooms(1) Touch(1) Death(2) transitions(10) code of professional responsibility(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Irish guidelines(1) Early Years Education(1) Eritrea(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Jenga(1) Routines(2) structure(1) Academic Skills(1) PIP(1) Leprechauns(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Arithmetic(1) Reggio Children Network(1) ECEC Setting(2) Window(1) family time(1) supportive environments(2) homeschool(1) Quality(4) emotional well-being(1) Sleep(1) Consent(1) INTO(1) Positivity(1) preschool settings(1) Reading Time(2) The Jelly King(1) Facebook(1) Oireachtas(1) curriculum(7) Relaxation(1) value(1) ears(1) learners(1) community(5) science week(2) Educators(2) dogs(1) Norway(2) Awards(2) Budget 2019(2) movement behaviours(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Opportunities(1) mental health problems(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Craft(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Mud kitchens(1) women in research(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Children and families(2) early life(1) routine(2) Favouritism(1) healthy eating policies(1) Magnavacchi(1) CIT(1) preschool(4) Buddy Bench(1) Limerick(1) Pre-School Services(1) coronavirus(1) Síolta(139) awards 2020(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Affordability(1) Performing(1) STEM(3) Photographs(1) built environments(1) Potential(1) Budget 2018(1) Interactions(3) Wonder(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) purpose(1) Trick or treat(1) Winter(1) UN(1) Small World Play(1) Early Years(1) early year’s classrooms(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Plastic(1) Laughter(1) preschools(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) environments(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Whole Group(1) food(1) RTE Investigates(1) Glitter(2) Learning Journal(2) Maria Montessori(1) Scents(1) blog(56) play(37) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Buddies(1) Celebrate(1) Youtube Series(1) Lego(2) Women(1) Meal time(1) Care routines(1) Plants(1) Party(1) Inclusion(3) Covid pandemic(3) Names(1) Easter(1) art of the relationship(1) education system(1) Iraq(1) ECIAwards20(1) Home Corner(1) National Holiday(1) Twitter(1) Xbox(1) Wrapping paper(1) feisty(1) Mount Everest(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Fabric(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Gardening(1) Maternity Leave(1) memories(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) dining experiences(1) Culture(2) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) National Awards 2018(2) Department of Education and Skills(1) linc(1) Painting(1) Advocacy(1) Loving Relationships(2) UNICEF report(1) NAEYC(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Family wall(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Unesco(1) Return to Work Training(1) Leargas(1) Staff Motivation(1) Childhood(2) reading(6) Pretend Play(1) Exploring(1) developing motor skills(1) Role play(1) Trade union(1) Map(1) playleader(1) Confidence(1) play stories(2) Participation(2) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) NCCA(4) Mental Health(4) Learning Story(1) Identity and Belonging(4) keezy(1) Time Out(1) Music(3) Trauma-Sensitive(1) dining(1) Workplace Relations(3) Laugh(1) EECERA 2016(1) Socioemotional development(1) Sport(1) risky play(2) Siolta blog(8) meals(3) childcare services(1) eating(1) Halloween(2) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) Mealtimes(1) educarer(1) conference(1) worries(1) Competent(1) Croatia(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine