February 2018 Inspired Practice Award Winners

Ahead of our National Awards 2018 taking place next month, we have a whopping seven winners for the inspired practice awards this month.   Me and My Community: Let’s get unity into our Community Little Gumboots Having recently undertaken Inclusion, diversity, and equality training the educators in Little Gumboots began to reflect on meaningful ways […]

February 2018 Inspired Practice Award Winners

Ahead of our National Awards 2018 taking place next month, we have a whopping seven winners for the inspired practice awards this month.


Me and My Community: Let’s get unity into our Community

Little Gumboots

Having recently undertaken Inclusion, diversity, and equality training the educators in Little Gumboots began to reflect on meaningful ways they could put their new learning into action. They had a vision that entailed long term, medium, and short term planning but even they were surprised at how this community vision developed. It was a journey that was to bring them all around their community connecting with families, organisations, businesses, even the local council and the local railway station. What started with family visits to the service developed into deep relationships and meaningful actions that did indeed show unity in the community. Little Gumboots believe “A community is like a jigsaw, all the pieces have different colours and a roll to play but they all fit when we take the time to bring them together to eventually create a beautiful picture”. 

As we read their story we see they don’t just believe it they show us how they live it.

Click here to read their story


A Day in the Life of Predators and Prey by John

Child’s Play Early Education

Child’s Play have shared two stories with us that demonstrate how they as educators “altered their view on the capabilities of their children”. An altered view which has caused them to reassess and amend the type of experiences they provide for their children. These two stories from a group of preschoolers and afterschoolers reveal the children’s hidden skills and knowledge. We see these skills come to life when reflective and engaged educators go to considerable lengths to support the children’s emerging talents. We see how a group of pre-schoolers become successful authors who experience their own book launch and subsequent book tour. Meanwhile, following a chance introduction of a detective kit the afterschoolers turn into knowledgeable crime scene investigators. So knowledgeable in fact that they provided real challenge for the “criminals” who were cooking up the crimes. Stories such as these remind us of the capabilities and competences of children and prove how our image of the child impacts provision.

Click here to read their story


Child Centred Transitions

Appleseeds Preschool

Though children and families may experience the transition to Big School differently and uniquely there is no doubting that it is a milestone in the young child’s live. It can be a time of great excitement, anticipation and possibly some apprehension. In Appleseeds Preschool they have devoted a lot of time and effort supporting their children and families with this transition. They are situated in a complex that houses schools and community services and this has afforded them easy access and connection to two local primary schools. While the connections and collaborations they have fostered with these schools form the basis of this inspiring practice it is their attunement to the voice of the child that causes them to develop new practices. Through observations and conversations they gain insights into the children’s thoughts and expectations which lead them to new ways of exploring the big school transition. Read here to find out more.

Click here to read their story


All roads lead to one

Toddlers Lodge

As we consistently see from these award submissions inspiration comes in many forms and from many things. This particular inspiration for Toddlers Lodge came from an Early Childhood Ireland blog Making Children Visible and caused an ”aha” moment among the team. Identity, belonging and community were things to be addressed, to be done, a pillar of Aistear that required attention. Suddenly as if a light switch was turned on it became crystal clear identity, belonging and community are embedded in the living breathing realities and experiences of our everyday lives. We live it we don’t do it. As Jenny, her team and her children started on this new journey of exploration they couldn’t stop seeing connections to community all around them. What ensued is a wonderful example of how we can make learning meaningful and relevant to our young children. Starting with what they know they begin sharing and discussing local events and everyday experiences. The team at Toddlers Lodge give visibility to the people and places that surround them in a way that also makes the children visible to the community. The children’s horizons are expanded without even leaving their home townland. Read the story to see how the townland comes alive before their eyes and how through their play they further develop a knowledge, and pride of, pride, and connection to their people and place.

Click here to read their story


Kids Only Den

Carraig Briste and Killegny
This den building story was inspired by the After schoolers of Carraig Briste and Killegney expressing their wishes to build a “Forever Den”. The team at this after school are committed to respecting the voice of the child and the child’s right to a say in their leisure and rest activities. They are also very attuned to the children’s emergent interests. Outdoor play and den building are very popular afterschool pursuits for these children. They expressed the wish to build a “forever den” a den that they didn’t have to dismantle and a place that could become a “Kids only Den” This story shows how they went about it and how the team at Carraig Briste extend the experience to include new learning opportunities about trees and nature. It is so important to recognise the different ethos and approach of an afterschool setting. Quality afterschools are places of childhood pursuits with friends, places that build relationships and places that supports children as they continue to develop their own persona and their own skills and interests. As we read the story we can see these things in action. We see the capabilities, fun and camaradie of children at play as they are supported by adults who care for them. This story may also remind many of us of the life long memories we associate with our childhood dens.

Click here to read their story


A story that will never end

Happy Days Ballyporeen
Growing a garden can take a while, this inspiring practice shows how with, belief, endurance, and community support good things happen. Change can happen incrementally with lots of little achievements joining together to create a field of dreams. This is the way things happened in Happy Days. They had a vision of a natural outdoor space that would provide all of their children with rich play experiences it may have taken a few years to achieve but all through that time the service was making incremental improvements to the outdoor provision. It is an inspiration to many settings that find themselves in similar situations or who feel that the task ahead of them is too big. While the logistics and realities of accessing and providing a natural outdoor space for the children took longer than expected the time was not lost as the educators became more skilled and knowledgeable in relation to managing an outdoor space such as this. Their understanding of why such a space is so important and beneficial for young children grew. They were able to transfer this information to parents and the community who became very supportive in a practical and hands on manner. What resulted can be seen here and it leads us to believe that it is only the start of the story.

Click here to read their story


Better Together – Creating a supportive and inspiring work environment

Tir na nÓg Early Years Education and Care Service, Co. Kildare

The management of Tir na nÓg recognise that at the heart of quality provision is quality staff. They appreciate and value the dedication and commitment of their staff and are consistently looking at ways they can support them in their daily work. They recognise the importance for them to experience a sense of well being and job satisfaction. In a sector that is currently facing many challenges in this regard Tir na nOg have put together an innovative “Better Together Staff Package” in an effort to create a working environment that is “empowering, enriching, and fulfilling. Lorraine, one of the management team has started a Master’s in Leadership in Early Years Education and Care. This Master’s programme has completely inspired and motivated the management to design this package of incentives and supports for their setting.

Click here to read their story

Design & Development