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Encourage Community Awareness and Involvement with the new “Where I Live” Group Learning Journal and Aistear-linked Curriculum Plans

Community awareness and involvement are important for all of us, particularly for children in Early Years educational settings.

The Early Years Shop (a Service of Canavan Byrne) are excited to launch their new “Documentation Made Simple” series with our new “Where I Live” Group Learning Journal. This is a beautifully designed oversize A3 Scrapbook on the “Where I Live” community theme. Along with the Group Learning Journal we bundle our Where I Live Curriculum Plan Pack and some of our curriculum plans from other packs. This is a bundle of curriculum ideas that you can use to respond to the children’s curiosity and emerging interests in their localities. Community involvement is an element of evaluation included in the DES (Department of Education & Skills) inspection.

Documenting your observations of the children in the room is fun and easy with our Group Learning Journal. This is both a helpful aid to showing documentation of your working within the Aistear framework in case of inspection, shows your commitment to the children’s awareness and involvement in the local community and is also a lovely document for everyone to look at together at the end of the year.

In addition to playing, thinking and learning about your local community and the people who live and work there, remember to be aware of opportunities for children to be involved in community projects around art, performance or volunteer work. Is there a local clean-up day that your service could participate in? Are there other opportunities for the children to help out with community-based activities?

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AIM (Access and Inclusion Model) Employee Contract of Employment: Thursday Tip

The Access and Inclusion Model is a new structure created in 2016 in response to research into providing support for children with disability under the ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education) scheme. AIM is a joint project of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Health, the Department of Education and Skills and others.

The model is intended to break down the various levels of support required from the most basic and universal which is an inclusive culture where diversity is welcome and children with disability are not marginalised, through more specific measures such as information for parents, staff training, special equipment as required, and additional intervention when necessary.

All early years services should have an Inclusion Policy. You can read more on this in the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Charter and Guidelines for Early Childhood Care and Education provided by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Remember if you employ someone under the Access and Inclusion Model, the contract must be for this specific purpose and this should be built into a clause within the contract to avoid any potential employment law issues.

We have developed a Contract specifically for this purpose with the relevant wording as part of our Inclusion Pack.

Related products: Inclusion Pack

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Using a Spidergraph for Documenting Observations of Children’s Interests – Thursday Tip

Using a Spidergraph for Documenting Observations of Children's Interests - Thursday Tip

Working within the Aistear curriculum framework requires that you observe the child’s interests and then build the follow-on curriculum to follow these interests. Some early years educators find it difficult to find the time to make detailed observations.

What about using a spidergraph?

A spidergraph, also known as a spidergram or a mind map, is a quick way to note your observations and the links to how you extend the learning. It’s called a spidergraph because it looks something like a spider’s web, with related observations/plans/notes contained in circles and connected by lines (see illustration). Date your observations and add photos wherever you can. This is a great way to create an easy-to-read reference of your observation and curriculum planning.

We have an oversize (A3) Learning Journey available which is a great way to record the child’s learning through the year and show links to Aistear themes and goals.

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Diversity curriculum planning in an Early Years Setting

Diversity Curriculum Plan: Celebrating Difference

Promoting diversity in your early years setting is very important. Studies have shown that children as young as two years old are already beginning to internalise societal norms and prejudices around gender, ethnicity and cultural practices. What is meant by cultural practices? Cultural practices include language, religion, dress, even the food we eat regularly!

There are many reasons why diversity is such an important consideration for all ages. We want to be sure to be fully inclusive so that no children feel “outside” the group or feel less confident about participating. We also want to be aware of the subtle ways we learn to make unfair judgments based on difference so that we can “unlearn” these prejudices as we go.

Ireland is growing more and more diverse, particularly in the early years sector. We want to foster an appreciation of this diversity and show to children and their families that we are dedicated to inclusivity. Along with cultural differences, we want to be aware of any preconceptions we might have about gender roles, about difference in ability, about age, or any other of the many ways people are different from one another. We want to share and celebrate these differences openly together.

The children themselves are the best resource for diversity education! Encourage them to talk about their own cultures, their own families, their own experiences being who they are.

We are happy to offer our new Diversity Curriculum Plan Pack: Celebrating Difference as a great starting point for playing, talking and thinking around the topics of difference and inclusiveness. Choose from 10 activities as starting points, then observe the children’s own thoughts, games and explorations to guide you in future activities.

Remember, all our Curriculum Plan Packs and Friday Freebies are available for no extra charge as soon as they are released to members of the Early Years Resource Factory.

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Tips on recording accidents and incidents in your Early Years Service – Thursday Tip

recording accidents and incidents in your Early Years Service

Using an Accident Book for recording accidents and incidents is a good way to maintain compliance with regulations for early years services. You should always be making records of accidents and other incidents related to health and safety. Ideally you will have multiple copies of each report. You must give one copy to the family of the child involved and one copy stored in the child’s file. It’s also a good idea to maintain copies for each room, both for your own records and in case of inspection. Remember that you must also be GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant.

Here are a few tips to remember about recording accidents:

  • Always use pen, not pencil.
  • Include the full names of staff present, not just the first name.
  • Complete every section of the form.
  • Each accident must be risk assessed and preventive action taken. This must be recorded on the form.
  • You must place a copy of the accident on the child’s file and must have evidence that you have done this.
  • You must give the parent a copy of the accident record and must have evidence that you have done this.
  • Remember all serious accidents should be reported to Tusla and the Insurance Company.
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My Gratitude Journal: New Product on the Early Years Shop (for afterschool children; ages 5 – 10)

My Gratitude Journal is a new, fun, 26-week journal with lots of activities, games, stickers and puzzles, all around the theme of identifying and recognising the things in life we should be thankful for. My Gratitude Journal promotes well-being, friendship, confidence, mindfulness and happiness!

Created by sisters Linda and Suzanne, My Gratitude Journal is fun and playful and full of “positive vibes”.

From an educator’s point of view, evidence suggests that children who participate in programmes of empathy and pro-social behaviour are less aggressive and can develop high levels of social and emotional competence.

My Gratitude Journal is a great introduction to some of the principles of Yoga and Mindfulness with activities, games and stickers children love.

“This book is such a subtle fun way of introducing children to a positive self-image. I grew up having little confidence and low self-esteem and I wish I had been able to tap into a book like this and emerge with greater self-belief and gratitude. It will teach children at an early stage to believe in themselves, be happy in their own skin and be thankful for their lives. It should be in every classroom in this country and is a great addition to any household. The stickers at the back is a fantastic idea”.
Brent Pope, Children’s book author and charity worker

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It is all about me, and of course you too!

It is all about me and of course you too

As we all settle into a new academic year, it seems that each year brings with it something new, a challenge which despite years of experience, we hadn’t quite envisaged. This year the changes to the ECCE scheme where children can enter at the age of 2 years and 8 months, has changed the dynamics again. Services running more than one session in the morning may have grouped the children by age, leaving a 1:11 ratio of children who are predominantly under 3. This decision will have been made for different reason which is another topic in itself, but today we are going to focus on tackling the challenge as presented.

Continue reading It is all about me, and of course you too!

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Bigger, Brighter, Better Early Years Shop


You may have noticed some changes recently to the Early Years Shop website. We have reorganised our product categories to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for as well as brightening up the look and feel of the Shop to make it better and more pleasant to navigate! Please let us have your comments about our new Shop and any suggestions on how we could make it even better.

Continue reading Bigger, Brighter, Better Early Years Shop

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Medical Care Plans – Thursday Tip

Remember if you a child with a long-term illness or severe allergy attend your service you must have a Medical care Plan in place. This is to ensure the safety and well-being of the child. Staff must be trained on the administration of the medication and how to respond in the event of a medical emergency. The training must be provided by a qualified health professional .

Continue reading Medical Care Plans – Thursday Tip