Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Visitors – A Child’s View!


Tuesday 11 September 2018

The early childhood environment is a place in which children feel safe, it is their sanctuary. They need to feel safe and secure, so they can learn and develop in this space. However, throughout the day, many people walk into their room. Children, parents, grandparents, other practitioners, the manager, or the cook. Externally, you may have students, mentors, inspectors, prospective parents, and people carrying out jobs such as fire-safety or repair work arriving and departing. How do children, especially babies and toddlers, experience these visitors? We need to reflect on the impact of external visitors into the secure spaces for younger children.

You have created a space that is safe, secure and which embraces each child’s identity, and supports each child’s individual well-being. This space holds many possibilities of purposeful interactions, and playful moments. It is an environment which places the child at the centre, to be the confident and competent individual they are. A space where children’s interests are reflected, a space which challenges their learning and opportunities to extend it. If there are too many visitors, be they internal or external, this sense of security can be disturbed.

The Pikler model denotes ‘full attention’ as a key principle in working with young children. Alongside this, it suggests children under 3 years should have ‘uninterrupted play’. If we take these two principles, it suggests visitors (internal/ external) should be kept to a minimum to create an environment of respect and security for young children. For babies and toddlers, a space comprised of familiar adults, flexible routines and a sense of knowing is sustained. It is a relevant, and meaningful space. Through which, it offers a sense of security, encourages playful ideas and active learning. And as we move up through the ages, the spaces offered are based on the same principles.

An external visitor may create many emotions and questions for children. It is important to remember; each child will experience it differently. Some external visitors such as students, mentors, student placement supervisors, speech and language therapist or inspectors may give due notice of their visit. In these situations, you can prepare the children the day before through having conversations and hearing any questions the children have. If you can have a photo of the visitor, in advance, it can help children to prepare. For example, the children may be curious asking will she/he play with us? What will they do when they are here?

Communicating with the children will support a sense of well-being, and identity. It is through this knowing that we support children’s emotional well-being. Bringing a sense of anticipation or possibly a sense of excitement. Reminding us of the importance of our role in supporting this transition into the room. So, what can you do when an external visitor arrives?

Regardless of age, it is crucial that you are naming the moment for children through verbally welcoming the visitor into the room. For example, our visitor Michelle is coming into our room. The visitor will watch us do our work. Acknowledging what the children are doing in the room through naming their play. For example, we are busy with the playdough, and some of us are in the home corner.  This should be done without distracting the children from their play.

Depending on the purpose of the visitor, you should consider where they will sit/ position themselves while they are there. For example, one might be at the playdough table, while one might prefer to observe from the outskirts of the room. During the visit, some children may approach the visitor, others may observe from a distance – however, questions by the children should be facilitated. It is, at the end of the day – the child’s space!

Reflecting with the children afterwards is equally important. Asking questions such as did you see our visitor today? James asked her a question ‘do you like playdough?’ Through naming what happened, you are reaffirming the children’s interactions, and sense of belonging within the group.

At the same time, some visitors can often arrive unannounced, and there may be less time to prepare. Similarly, during this, you need to consider how will you introduce the visitor to the children and manage the transition. Considering the before, during and after. In doing this, you are respecting the child’s space.

We need to be alert to the role of the environment as the ‘third teacher.’ When there is a visitor in the space, it changes the dynamics. Our role is to sustain an environment rooted in the rights of the child. And we can begin doing this by acknowledging anyone who walks into the room by name. It is children who are the centre of our practice, and it is their sense of security and well-being in this space which is paramount.



Lorraine O’ Connor works as an Early Years Specialist with Early Childhood Ireland. She has an MA in Social Studies and BA in Early Childhood Studies. Lorraine's areas of interest are play, children’s rights and movement. And she is continually intrigued by the playfulness and curiosity of children’s stories through play.

1 comments Comments

One Response

  1. Sinead Mc Glacken says:

    Love this strong, confident, rights based message advocating awareness of the Early Years environment as the child’s space and the acknowledgement of the child’s feeling of security and belonging as paramount in everything that happens in the space. Having a policy for visitors rooted in the shared ethos of the setting can ensure a consistent approach across the setting and the EY team

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Educator of the Year Award(3) Reggio(1) Adoption(1) Mindfulness(2) Death(2) Performing(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) responsive relationships(1) Reggio Children Network(1) trust(4) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Malaguzzi(1) Masterclass(2) social science(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Exercise(1) Lego(2) curriculum(5) Supernanny(1) Appreciation(1) ECCE(7) Budget 2018(1) Engineers Week(2) New Appointments(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) National Pyjama Day(1) feisty(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) youdoodle(1) risk assessment(1) experience(1) Engagement(1) Book Review(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) grandchild(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Leargas(1) Patterns(1) Covid pandemic(1) Reading Time(1) Qualifications(1) Workforce(1) Care routines(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Self-Esteem(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) CPD(1) Maternity Leave(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Favouritism(1) code of ethics(1) Valentine's Day(3) baby room(1) First 5 strategy(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Your place(1) Pobal(1) Limerick(1) Shapes(1) scéalta(40) Ariana Pucci(1) Engineering(3) Kids Own(1) listening(1) education(2) Rich Documentation(1) Sustainable(1) Socioemotional development(1) Siolta blog(8) Vietnam(1) Biting(1) Behaviour(3) Decisions(1) child-centric(1) reopening ireland(1) Traffic Lights(1) gender stereotype(1) Administrative Burden(1) Irish(1) Decision Making(1) iOS(1) Mayo(1) Magic(1) Traditions(2) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) mushrooms(1) interacting(2) Access and Inclusion Model(2) UN(1) Wendy Lee(3) show and tell(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Craft(1) Inclusion(3) annual conference(1) DES Inspection(1) Buddy Bench(1) science(3) Event Guide(1) ReCreate(2) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) christmas(9) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) College(1) environments(1) Childhood(1) EM Standing(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Online(1) Easter(1) Learning Journal(2) Mathematicians(1) MECPI(1) behavioural science(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Inter-generational(2) SAC(1) Recycling(2) Glitter(2) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) apps for children(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) pablo(1) Xbox(1) Eritrea(1) Iceland(1) National Awards 2018(2) risk(2) School Age Childcare(1) Aistear(122) Irish guidelines(1) Change(1) continual professional development(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Oireachtas(1) Primary School(2) Iraq(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Book Club(2) Our Little Seed(1) Treasure(1) refugees(1) Running(1) Twitter(1) Síolta QAP(1) Training(2) babies(7) Celebrate(1) SPICE Framework(1) Shoes(1) Norway(2) Party(1) Learning Story(1) Pedagogy(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) research(6) Maths(5) Mixed age groups(2) childcare services(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Graduation(1) Home Corner(1) Brain(1) Arithmetic(1) Quality(4) Funding(1) Playschool(1) Photographs(1) Social Skills(1) HR(1) Body Language(1) Wilenski(1) Magda Gerber(1) Role play(1) Gratitude(1) educarer(1) Affordability(1) Weather(1) conversations(1) Relaxation(1) Self Help Skills(1) story time(2) Independence(1) Whole Group(1) science week(2) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Winter(1) Nonverbal(1) Orla Kenny(1) Design(1) European Project(1) Pre-School Services(1) Plastic(1) learning(19) bloom app(1) DCYA(5) early childhood educator(2) Universal Design Guidelines(1) stories(3) Dr. Emer Ring(1) budget(1) TRAP(1) Family wall(1) Challenges(1) awards 2020(1) Stress(2) Prexit(1) Snakes(1) Art(6) Culture(2) Sleep(1) Syria(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Opportunities(1) Touch(1) bonds(1) under 3's(3) Maynooth University(2) Builders(1) Kerry(1) Margy Whalley(1) National Awards 2019(1) Arts(1) early years research(2) Sweets(1) Grief(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) conference(1) AsIAm(2) Super Shed Stories(2) Participation(2) Settling in(4) Children's Rights(3) listen(1) Elders(1) purpose(1) Confident(1) Facebook(1) World Health Organisation(1) Document Learning(1) CCTV(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) meals(3) Laugh(1) PIP(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Professionalisation(5) Covid19 crisis(1) Capable(1) Sustainability(3) art of the relationship(1) COVID-19 Reopening(1) Queues(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Vertical grouping(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Routines(2) developing motor skills(1) Self-regulation(1) racism(1) phone apps(1) routine(2) Flowers(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) man up(1) Fantasy play(1) Awards 2018(3) Mantra(1) june29(1) staying connected(1) transitions(10) Digital(1) UD(1) Line-ups(1) Fee Play(1) Breathing(2) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Bereavement(2) play(34) movement behaviours(1) COVID-19(6) eating(1) Buddies(1) ERASMUS+(3) RIE philosphy(1) Titles(1) Giraffe(2) Potential(1) Story(1) Celebrations(4) Well-Being(9) Staff Motivation(1) Inspections(1) Tuscan Approach(2) pets(1) Dance(1) Impact(1) role playing(1) Map(1) community(5) Rising to the Challenge(2) Meet the Members(1) The Lullaby Book(1) food(1) The Jelly King(1) Montessori(3) development(8) Certificate(1) Children's Research Network(1) ELC(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) NAEYC(1) Upcycling(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Care-giving routines(1) social media(1) aistear blog(3) Infectious diseases(1) Mud kitchens(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Awards Night(1) relationships(17) Technology(3) Japan(1) Workplace well-being(1) Awards 2019(1) Digital Devices(1) lockdown(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Wonder(1) Scents(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Interactions(2) Interaction(1) play pods(1) Cognitive development(1) Games(1) EECERA 2016(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) life long learning(1) Rituals(1) blog(36) play therapy(1) animals(2) Consent(1) Obesity(1) Infection Control(1) Autism(4) gender bias(1) Wrapping paper(1) Maynooth(1) Seas Suas(1) memories(1) University(1) Competent(1) Spiders(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Treasure Chest(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Youtube Series(1) Pen green(1) Children and families(1) Time(1) friendships(1) Time Out(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Awards(2) Learning Stories Award(3) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Thank you(1) respect(5) Educators(2) Employee(1) Budget 2019(2) Storytelling(6) Visitors(1) Smiles(1) Research Seminar(1) imotion(1) National Holiday(1) Frustrations(1) Yoga(1) supportive environments(2) Playdough(1) Ceremony(1) Plants(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Environment(2) reopening(1) Interests(1) Window(1) Mealtimes(1) UNCRC(2) Communicating(1) Visual Impairment(1) Mo Scéal(1) Feeding(1) documentation(4) Performance Management(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Nutrition(1) Maths Week(1) Thanks(1) Recycle(1) Child Care(1) NCCA(3) Exploring(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Sculptures(1) Halloween(2) Childcare(3) Penguins(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Gardening(1) reading(5) Trick or treat(1) Health(2) Advocacy(1) Laughter(1) dublin(2) Empathy(1) Summer(1) United Nations(1) healthy eating policies(1) Investment(2) Scéalta Blog(99) Drawing(2) Degree(1) Snack Time(1) Painting(1) keezy(1) Academics(1) emotions(2) Learning Story Awards(2) Reggio Emilia(1) Light table(1) code of professional responsibility(1) dogs(1) preschool(4) Teamwork(1) Sequins(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) MA(1) Children(4) RTE Investigates(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) outdoor play(6) STEM(3) worries(1) Síolta(120) Arlene Forster(1) Academic Skills(1) preschool settings(1) educating(1) Afghanistan(1) children development(1) Italy(1) overhear(1) Belonging(3) Hand Hygiene(2) keep in touch(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Mount Everest(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Leprechauns(1) structure(1) Love(2) GDPR(1) dining(1) TOY Programme(1) books(4) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Learning journals(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Identity(5) Diversity(1) CIT(1) Communications(1) linc(1) value(1) early life(1) Reflective Practice(1) dining experiences(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Sessional service(1) Mental Health(3) child-centred approach(1) Inspirational(2) Mark Twain(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Children's Voice(1) parents(6) primary education(1) early years learning(1) toddlers(3) Cork(1) IGL(1) Blocks(1) mental health problems(1) research submissions(1) Early Years(1) Creativity(4) Intention(1) Learning Stories(9) Exclusion(1) Study Trip(1) journey(1) Leadership(1) Music(3) Maria Montessori(1) Wesco(1) Early Childhood Ireland(4) AIM(2) Nuturing interactions(1) ICBN(1) ears(1) Support(1) E.coli(1) Imagination(3) San Miniato(4) curiosity(3) Family(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Sport(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Jenga(1) Exit interview(1) outdoor space(3) ECEC(3) Kilkenny(1) Little Buddies(1) Confidence(1) Building Resilience(1) outdoors(3) planning(1) Positivity(1) Graduate(1) Snacks(1) learners(1) Budget 2020(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Child mental health(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) learning bias(1) Albert Einstein(1) ECEC Setting(2) Trigonometry(1) Trade union(1) Loss(1) Community involvement(1) Policy(2) Workplace Relations(3) collaboration(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) family time(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Names(1) play stories(2) Meal time(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) emotional environment(2) maternity health(1) First 5(1) Equality(1) Early Years Educators(3) Horizon 2020(1) Through the looking glass(1) Santa(2) INTO(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Frosty the Snowman(1) communication(4) Anxiety(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) risky play(2) Thinking(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Trade Unions(1) Magnavacchi(1) Universal Design(2) Human Resources(1) Fabric(1) Creative(1) play pod(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine