Recent Submissions

  • Embracing Changes Outdoors for Children Under Three

    Donnolly, Ciara; Fitzpatrick, Nicole; Giblin, Anna; Lynch, Chrissandra; Mahoney, Jackie; Murray, Geraldine; Murray, Geraldine; O’Neill, Gemma; Pilkington, Valerie; Casey, Marianne; et al. (Early Childhood Ireland, 2022-11-01)
  • Assessing children's psychosocial well-being: Norwegian early childhood education and care teachers’ challenges when completing a global screening tool

    Franck, Karianne; Seland, Monica; Rimul, Johanne; Sivertsen, Anne H; Kernan, Margaret (2022-11-03)
    In this article, the authors illustrate some of the challenges and dilemmas that Norwegian early childhood education and care teachers experienced when completing a global screening tool (UPSI-5: Universal Psychosocial Indicator for 5 Year Old Boys and Girls) concerning the psychosocial well-being of five-year-olds as part of an international research project. Based on interviews with 31 teachers, the authors present in-depth analysis of the critical reflections of 19 teachers concerning the assessment forms. While previous research has criticized standardized testing and screening in early childhood education and care, there is a need for the critical voices of practitioners to be heard. The aim of this article is to illustrate which aspects teachers find challenging and how they respond when in doubt. The authors found that teachers’ assessments are inextricably linked to the early childhood education and care context, and the values, ideas and norms that are prevalent in Nordic early childhood education and care settings.
  • Title: Play Always Matters: It matters even more in infant classes now

    O'Síoráin, Carol-Ann; Kernan, Margaret; Casey, Elva; McArdle, Fiona; Hibernia College; Hibernia College; Hibernia College; Hibernia College (2022-04)
    As teacher educators in a challenging world crisis, we are reconceptualising and revalidating our personal theories and ideologies of early childhood education. But is it causing us to change and adapt our practices to be more responsive and inclusive of the child’s voice in our schools? Initial findings from Covid 19 research suggests that children missed opportunities for play with peers which negatively impacts on social and emotional learning and language development (O’Keeffe C, McNally S. (2021). Play naturally draws self-identity and self-expression from the child, where the child’s own voice emerges. Play enables children to recreate and rehearse their personal life experiences and cultivate their place in their family, community, and peer group. It is time for a conscious ‘pause to reflect’ on the play-based event called the ‘Aistear Hour’ in mainstream primary infant classrooms. Recent published findings from Sloan, et. al. (2021) indicated that while teachers were generally enthusiastic about play and playful approaches ‘there was still some uncertainty over the approaches to teaching and learning advocated by Aistear and the lack of specialised training in such approaches’ Sloan, et. al. (2021, p. 30).
  • Going with the Flow: The possibility of emergent curriculum

    O'Síoráin, Carol-Ann; Casey, Elva; Hibernia College; Hibernia College (2022-06-23)
    This article sets out to challenge Early Childhood Educators (in pre-school and infant class settings) in a critical level of reflection on what we have been doing in early childhood education, teaching and learning during the course of the pandemic. The reader will be asked questions to reflect upon and generate responses to prompt further engagement with the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic. We mean to raise topics such as concepts of childhood and curriculum that will allow us as a collective to reimagine and action change to our practice. The use of language such as ‘home-schooling’ is also discussed for exploration. Covid 19 has been stressful in a variety of ways, and professionally we have realised how our education practices and structures have not consistently supported the education of our most vulnerable. Somewhere we hear a mantra, maybe in the back of our minds, saying “go with the flow”. But… can we visualise a different approach, is it what we don’t see that means we cannot do? This article asks that we, as Early Childhood Educators, open our minds to the possibility of leading education into the future with an emergent curriculum and playful pedagogues.
  • We're all in This Together: Family systems Theory and Communication

    O'Síoráin, Carol-Ann; Hibernia College (2019-09-13)
    Family Systems Theory, nested in a bioecological systems model (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) emphasises the existence of sub-systems within the family. The functions of the systems are considered to involve support, regulation, nurturance and socialisation. Family interactions are the processes in the conceptual framework that include the marital subsystem (interaction between spouses), parental subsystem (interaction between parents and children), the sibling subsystem (interaction among siblings), and the extended family subsystem (interaction between the nuclear and extended family). Families of young children with autism experience higher levels of stress that present challenges to the interdependency of the family system. This paper presents the findings from three Irish research projects including Project Iris (Rose, Shevlin, Winter & O’Raw 2015). This paper provides a discussion platform for parents, siblings, and other family members, educators and policy makers from an international perspective. In particular it calls for and invites more intense research on language and communication for families with members identified as being on the autism spectrum. The emerging finding provides evidence to support learning and language development through a ‘whole’ child perspective and argues for a substantial improvement in supporting parents as leaders of learning. Attention is drawn to the seriousness of horizontal and vertical stresses that families experience and how these stresses impact on their functional relationships.
  • The Play of the Outdoors in Constructions of a 'Good' Childhood: An Interdisciplinary Study of Outdoor Provision in Early Childhood Education in Urban Settings

    Kernan, Margaret (2006)
    This study explores constructions of a good childhood as enacted in the outdoor play experiences of young children in early childhood education settings in urban environments in Ireland. The conceptual and exploratory framework for the study was shaped by the integration of theories from the fields of sociology, history, geography and psychology with a particular focus on the work of theorists who have worked from ecological perspectives (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Bronfenbrenner & Ceci, 1994; Gibson,1979; Kytta, 2002; 2004; Reed, 1996; Tuan, 1974a; 1977) and those who have considered concepts of time, space and place in analyses of children’s everyday lives (Ceppi & Zini, 1998; Ennew, 1995; Mayall, 2002; Zeiher et al, 2007). The methodology utilised incorporated multi-modal qualitative fieldwork in four diverse early childhood education settings in Dublin during 2005. Additionally, two surveys were administered: one focusing on general outdoor provision in early childhood education in Ireland, and one, on the place of the outdoors in training. At the core of the research were the everyday outdoor experiences of eight children aged between 1 and 5 years. Their perspectives, as well as those of their parents, peers, the early years practitioners who worked with them, and a range of other adult stakeholders provided the focus of analysis. The analysis of the data led to the development of a four-stage exploratory model, The Orb Web. In Stage One, the place of play outdoors in ‘a good childhood’ is elaborated in terms of a ‘healthy childhood’; a ‘natural childhood’ and a ‘safe childhood’. Stage Two considers the potentials of a relational, interdependent and ecological vision of outdoor play. This foregrounds the mutual reciprocity between children and their environment in terms of the affordance relationship (Gibson, 1979) and in doing so, highlights the particular features of the outdoor environment that make it engaging and interesting for children and supportive or their learning and development. This stage also envisions the outdoors as an arena supportive of both adults and children’s well-being in company and interaction with each other. Stage Three of the Orb Web incorporates six themes of analysis of children’s time and space capturing the complex processes that are embedded in both the construction and experience of outdoor play for children in ece settings. These are: change in development over time; day-to-dayness or everyday life; institutional time and space; generation and historical time; seasonal time and social background contextual factors. The Orb Web is completed by considering outdoor experiences in terms of the perceived and utilised affordances at three extending spheres of experience and action: indoor-outdoor connectedness; boundaried area of the outdoor space of the ece setting and the wider outdoors. The study identified a gap between an ideology of a good childhood outdoors and its enactment in pedagogical practices in early childhood education in Ireland. A shared understanding amongst key adult stakeholders regarding the outdoors as valued, necessary and consequently a ‘designed and planned for’ component of children’s experience appeared absent in provision. Outdoor play was demonstrated to be frequently marginalised or problematised by adults resulting in an invisibility of young children in city spaces. Structural conditions identified which mitigate against the actualisation of positive experiences outdoors included: the persistent influence of an historical educational tradition that has prioritised indoor teaching of ‘the basics’ over learning and development outdoors; a tension between children’s need for exploration, challenge and risk and regulatory and institutional requirements and a pervasive litigation culture; a lack of awareness of, and attention to building design that permit transparency between indoors and outdoors, a lack of awareness of the physical and social features of outdoor spaces which are both significant for children’s well-being, learning and development and prioritised as important to children; limitations on children’s capacity to exercise choice and achieve a personal balance between indoors and outdoors; negative perceptions of Irish weather; the dominance of car traffic over the needs of the playing child; and the erosion of natural garden spaces. The findings relating to children’s priorities in early childhood education settings suggest that it is important to children that they have time and space outdoors: to move expansively and freely; to practise newly acquired physical skills; to transport themselves or materials using vehicles and tools; to be high up; to be able to find and construct small spaces; to explore and transform natural elements; to observe, to have direct contact with animal and plant life, and play with friends. A further important component is the presence of a supportive, familiar and responsible adult who is willing to engage in playful interaction with children, to collaborate and share interest in discoveries and learning. The ecological vision of outdoor experience proposed in this study offers a new perspective on the role of the outdoors in everyday life in early childhood education in urban settings in Ireland, and a number of recommendations are made to guide future national developments in policy, practice and training.
  • SEEDs of Change: Supporting social and emotional well-being of children in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) through team reflection

    SEED Project Consortium (2019)
    ‘SEED: Social and Emotional Education and Development’ (2017-2019) was a European project that was designed to draw attention to the importance of social and emotional well-being for children’s learning and development, by supporting the continuing professional development of practitioners working with 2.5 to 6-yearolds in this area. SEED partners conducted action oriented research with the view to improve ECEC practice in Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Norway and the Netherlands. The findings of the first part of the research, which focused on understandings of social and emotional well-being in ECEC settings, and which was based on interviews with 140 ECEC practitioners and 44 principals about social well-being of 1195 five-year-old children in these countries can be found here [ uploads/downloads/seed-research-report-21dec18-final.pdf]. These Guidelines are the outcome of the second part of the project, during which we piloted a group reflection pathway, called WANDA, with 80 ECEC practitioners with the aim to help them to deal with daily challenges in their practice so they could better support the socio-emotional well-being of children in their care.
  • Intergenerational play

    Kernan, Margaret; Cortellesi, Giulia; Palazuelos, Mariana (Sage publications, 2022-03)