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Embracing partnership with those in our community

 

In this edition of the LINC Blog, LINC Tutor Clare O’Shea describes how embracing partnership and friendships in the community can be a wonderful way to give children a wide variety of experiences.

 

 

A number of years ago I worked as a manager for a vibrant community-based preschool. Our setting was in a community centre in the village and very visible to those passing by. As a result, we got to know many members of the local community.

These friendships led to a number of lovely interactions between the children and some very kind members of the community.

One such friendship began between Tom, a daffodil and gardening enthusiast, and the preschool. When Tom was seen planting daffodil bulbs to the front of our community centre. He kindly agreed to let the children join him in helping to plant the bulbs. They all went out in small groups and planted a few bulbs each. We continued to enjoy this experience as the bulbs grew into beautiful daffodils in the spring.

Tom was so charmed by the children that we had many lovely interactions with him as the year went on. He visited one day with his friend an who is a brilliant carpenter. To the children’s delight he produced a fairy house complete with furniture and covered in sparkles for the children to play with in our nature area. He had also made a number of bird boxes. We all went outside and chose where to mount the bird boxes. They too were a big success as in the very first year a family of blue tits were hatched in one of the bird boxes. The experience of watching the busy parents building their nest, bringing food to their baby birds and then the birds taking flight was extremely fulfilling for the children.

In the same year Tom used his skills and passion to help build a gorgeous fairy garden near the primary school. We made sure to use the area one by having a little day out with the children and their parents/caregivers. We all walked the trail by the school. The children had all painted their own fairy houses and chose what trees they should be mounted on before heading to the fairy garden for a picnic. The trip out was also a great opportunity to support the children’s upcoming transition to primary school. Their brothers, sisters and friends were out playing on their lunch break and came to say hello while we were out on our little adventure. Many important conversations about moving to “big school” broke out between the staff, parents and children during our picnic in the beautiful, safe, and enclosed fairy garden.

Building partnerships with those in your community can be a wonderful way to give the children a wide variety of experiences. You can strongly support your emergent curriculum by asking the relevant parents or members of your community to come and visit the children. Do you know a nurse in the area who would love to come in and support the groups emergent interest in playing doctors and nurses?

It is also an excellent way to support cultural diversity. For example, as you explore cultural celebrations throughout the year there may well be a parent or community member who you could invite into the setting to explore these celebrations, such as the festival of lights during Diwali, with the children. Or maybe it’s getting close to Christmas and the children are talking about sending letters to Santa. Could you ask your postman to pop in and collect the children’s letters during circle time?

You never know when a simple question could lead to fun experiences and friendships between the community and your setting.

Clare O'Shea

Clare O'Shea

LINC Tutor

Clare has worked in the Early Years Sector for the past 14 years with experience across a wide range of settings including community-based childcare, full day care and an International Montessori School in Germany. She holds a Level 7 degree in Early Childhood Care and Education from Cork Institute of Technology and a Level 8 degree from Mary Immaculate College.  Clare has previously tutored for the Midlands school of Childcare and The Healthy Ireland Smart Start Programme for early years settings through the National Childcare Network.

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