Giraffe Childcare’s Training Academy hosted a training day in May 2018 for 60 of our childcare practitioners with a focus on interactions with children in the Wobbler age group – 1 to 2 year olds. It was very educational day, and we all enjoyed sharing ideas on curriculum and planning, and learning from one another.
Thank you to our senior Centre Managers who lead the training for the day. The workshops covered the following topics:
The team members took the opportunity to share ideas and talk about play-based learning, transitions for children moving rooms, and promoting best practice in care for the Wobbler age group (typically 12-24 months). The sessions were both interactive and interesting and everyone had an opportunity to be hands on!
A big thank you to our Centre managers, the central support team and all the practitioners who made the day such a success!
In recognition of their dedication, all of our staff went home with a small token of our appreciation and a treat to say thank you! We have had some wonderful feedback from our practitioners and Giraffe Training Academy will host further workshops for all of our care groups.
For the past 4 years, team members from our Giraffe centres have taken part in the Dublin VHI Mini Marathon on the June Bank holiday weekend. 81 of our Giraffe team members took part in the race this year.
This year’s event was held on Sunday instead of on the Monday – and we were all very grateful for the extra day of recovery! The Mini Marathon is one of Europe’s biggest outdoor running events and this year nearly 30,000 participants took part in the run.
Over the last 8 weeks, our teams have trained in the wind and in the rain, but they were so delighted to see the sun shining on Sunday June 3rd!
This year our Giraffe team members completed the mini marathon in aid of Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice, a very worthy charity and one very close to our hearts here at Giraffe. Each centre has organised a special fundraising event such as bake sale or Super Hero day to help raise vital funds for the children and families who use Lauralynn services.
Whether walking, jogging or running, the 10KM course is a challenge. The challenge was further increased this year by some very hot weather on the day. It didn’t stop our ladies giving it their best, and completing the race for this extremely good cause. The atmosphere at the event is one of camaraderie and good craic. And whether walking, jogging or running in the event, we knew that each step of our 10km run brought us closer to our goal!
As expected, there was some friendly rivalry between the centres, but it was Manuel from Stepaside who was the first person from Giraffe to cross the finish line, completing the 10km run in 49 minutes!!!
Team Stepaside was also the largest team from one centre with 12 participants!
Congratulations to Guiliana from Griffeen who was the fastest jogger from Giraffe, and to Anna from Parkwest who was the fastest walker!
Well done to every one of our staff members who took part on the day.
Last Saturday, Giraffe Childcare’s Training Academy hosted a training day for 40 baby group carers. Our senior crèche managers acted as our in-House workshop facilitators on the day, and the group broke up into smaller workshops for the afternoon. The topics ranged from preparing the learning environment for young infants, to curriculum planning and effective communication.
A big thank you to our Centre managers, the central support team and all the practitioners who made the day such a success!
We invest in our teams’ professional development and career and many of our managers and leaders started out with Giraffe as newly-qualified practitioners. We believe that through a commitment to our role as carers and educators, and on the job training, we make a positive difference to the lives of families, a children, our community and each other.
In recognition of their dedication, all of participants went home with a goodie bag full of treats as a thank you for all their hard work!
Read about our recent Preschool Training Seminar.
Wellbeing Week took place at Giraffe centres from April 9th – 13th, 2018. The aim of Wellbeing week was to encourage the conversation about employee health through promoting better nutrition and physical activity, as well as having fun!
There were activities running across all of our centres throughout the week including fitness, healthy nutrition, and wellbeing initiatives.
All of our staff teams received Healthy Fruit baskets this week as part of a Eat Well, Live Well campaign. The team also encouraged fruit tasting and healthy Snack choices for the children, giving them the option to cut up fruit, stir in berries and talk about the goodness of fruit during their snack time.
Giraffe is proud to support the Bike 2 Work initiative, as well as other travel discounts for our team members.
To help introduce the idea of mindfulness with our colleagues, our teams encouraged each other to try and practise a bit of mindfulness or meditation for 5 -10 minutes a day. This is a personal practise, and can be helped by taking a walk with no distractions, sitting quietly in a room, or visualising. Top TIP: Switch off all mobiles or electronic devices!
This is an event organised by the National Workplace Wellbeing organisation, that encourages colleagues to get out and excercice for a Lunchtime Mile. This could be completed by walking, cycling or running for 1 Mile ( 2.2 km) – check our our team photos!
Our team members encouraged the children to participate in the fitness and wellbeing activities throughout Wellbeing week, and then on Friday we all wore our Active wear and took part in some fun games and races at the centres!
All of our centres were full of creativity and inspiration last week leading up to the festivities of Easter. The centres took part in our annual Easter project where they were all provided with an Easter pack of art supplies to allow the children explore and express their own creativity. As part of our Reach curriculum, staff introduced the Easter project to the children at circle time. This allows the children to engage in discussions, choice making and thinking process in line with communication, exploring & thinking within the Aistear curriculum framework. Staff aid and support the children within this process allowing every child to expand on their interests and imaginations as part of our emergent curriculum.
Below you will see some of the creative activities from our budding ‘Leonardo Da Vincis’!
Here are just some of the beautiful pieces of artwork prepared by the children:
The children in Navan created their very own beautiful bonnets – and were delighted to show them to Mrs.Bunny when she arrived to the centre.
Some of our centres held special Egg hunts on Friday, indoors and outside while it wasn’t raining! The children in Lucan and Rathfarnham searched high and low all throughout their centres, on the look out for the eggs and collected them in their baskets.
Last week our centres created beautiful creations and we held a friendly competition where parents voted for the top 3 designs.
Congratulations to the teams from Park West, Adamstown and Navan who have won special Team prizes!
Here are the photos of the other centres’ entries:
The children were delighted when the Easter bunny hopped into our Giraffe centres. Everyone received egg-stra special treats too! 🐰
Mindfulness is a great buzz word but in simple terms for children, it is about awareness – awareness of their thoughts and feelings, what their body feels like, what they see and do and the noises that they hear around them. In fact, children are probably better than all of us at practicing mindfulness as they live almost completely in the present moment! Building self-esteem for children is everyone’s priority: there are some very simple techniques to support your child to build their ‘happiness skills’ from an early age, which can be easily added to your daily routine.
An easy way for children to practice mindfulness is to focus on what is happening around them. Start with hearing – talk to your child about listening to the sounds in their environment. Let your child know that you are going to make a sound and that they should listen carefully until they can no longer hear the sound. Ring a bell and listen to the vibration together, usually about 30 seconds. It will have a calming effect on your child and it’s a fun way to teach them to pay attention to what they can hear in their surroundings.
Build emotional literacy and start by acknowledging your child’s emotions. Help them to correctly identify and name the emotion that they are feeling. This can be extended for older children by asking them if they can identify the source of the emotion and what is making them feel sad or upset. The aim is not to get rid of negative emotions, but to be able to recognise and name them and then accept the emotions for what they are. Talk about your own emotions with your child – share that you are feeling sad, disappointed, frustrated or happy and explain why you feel that way. Your child will often recognise how you are feeling simply by innately reading your body language, so sharing and recognising your feelings and emotions provides acceptance and enables your child to be comfortable with their own feelings. For younger children, there are a number of books that deal with emotional ups and downs which are easily understandable and allow children to engage and identify feelings. This is a fun way of having an open discussion about feelings with your child and to discuss how to respond to challenges that might arise for them in school or pre-school. Recognise that the frustration, anger, or fear they feel is very real, let them know that it is okay feel that way and then focus on what to do with that emotion
Practice breathing with a ‘breathing buddy’ by lying on the ground with your child and placing a small cuddly toy on their tummy. They focus their attention on the rise and fall of the stuffed animal as they breathe in and out and begin to increase their awareness of their breath. Build on this by taking deep breaths with your child and exhaling deeply – this breathing technique can also help to calm your child down or to move them out of an angry feeling by taking 5 deep breaths together.
Create a mindful bedtime routine. Bedtime is a great time to introduce mindfulness to your child as you can introduce the technique of doing a short body-scan before bed – ask your child to close their eyes and then wiggle their toes and then their fingers and to move their hands on to their tummy to feel their breathing. It is a calming way to return to the body at the end of the day.
Cultivating an environment of kindness and being grateful for the simple things that we often take for granted will give your child’s well-being a boost. Be aware of your language and make a habit of being grateful and recognising gratitude in your child’s world. Use language like…’Aren’t we so lucky that the sun is shining today and we can go to the park’ to build gratitude. Talk to your child about saying thank you and what it really means – how do they feel when they get a present? How does it feel when their friend shares a toy with them? Recognise and talk about what being kind and feeling grateful is. Younger children often like to express their gratitude by doing a drawing which builds on their happiness. Encourage these expressions of being grateful and identify a gratitude wall in your kitchen or on the fridge where you can display their drawings; they can see them daily and can talk about how they felt when they drew them.
The purpose of teaching mindfulness to our children is to give them the skills to develop their awareness of their immediate surroundings, to understand their emotions and feelings and to be confident in expressing them. It will not eliminate tantrums or suppress their feelings of frustration or anger but will give provide the foundations for building and shaping their approach to their emotional well-being for later life.
Tips for practising Mindfulness together:
Celebrating our national day makes us all feel proud to be Irish, and it allows the children to gain a better understanding of Irish culture and traditions (Aistear themes, Identity & Belonging).St. Patrick’s Day is an exciting time for all children! In the run up to the day, the children in our centres have been busy discussing St. Patrick, learning why we celebrate the 17th of March and creating decorations, hosting parades and parties to celebrate.
Last week the children started to make their very own St Patrick’s Day decorations. The classrooms and hallways of our centres were transformed into green and gold!
3 cheers for the children’s St Patrick’s parade in Adamstown! We bundled up warm and brought our music makers out into the garden.
Here are a few pictures from the children’s parade in Navan: don’t their outfits look wonderful!
After all of the St Patrick’s Day decoration were prepared, all the staff and children dressed up in their festive Green outfits. Our centres were full of funny green hats, silly green glasses, and gorgeous green tu-tus!
While the seasons are slowly changing from winter to spring, and the days continue to get a little bit brighter, the children in Giraffe have enjoyed a wide range of spring time activities. Below are just some of the wonderful events that have taken place over the last few weeks in our centres:
Every year, Giraffe takes part in National Pyjama Day to support Early Childhood Ireland. All the children and staff are encouraged to come to creche in their pyjamas and help to raise funds for children’s charities in Ireland. For 2018, the theme for the fundraiser was Innovative Projects for Children: Indoors and Outdoors. The proceeds raised on the day go to help a number of Irish children’s charities, chosen by Early Childhood Ireland. Thank you to all the families and friends who supported our Pyjama Day fundraiser at Giraffe – together we raised over €1700!
The children are always so excited to invite their mummies for the special Mother’s Day breakfast at Giraffe! The children help to decorate the centre with beautiful artwork, and they make personalised cards and gifts for their Mums. Just look at their proud faces!
Over the last 22 years, World Book Day has become firmly established as Ireland’s biggest annual event promoting the enjoyment of books and reading. This year, our Giraffe centres celebrated World Book Day during the first week in March. The main aim of the event is to encourage young children to explore the pleasure of books and reading by providing them with an opportunity to read books that capture their imaginations. Here is a list of some of the children’s favourite books!
February has been an exciting month in Giraffe! With so many wonderful ‘early spring’ activities taking place over the past few weeks, we want to share some of the magical photos with you here.
Some of our centres enjoyed playing outside in the snow on a couple of occasions this month. The staff and children bundled up into their winter warmers, and frolicked in the snow! For some of the children, it was their first experience in a frozen playground, and they had a wonderful time. In one or two centres, we even had snow indoors for our sensory play tables!
Here are the children’s instructions for pancakes: Pour, Stir, Mix, Mix, Mix, Pour, Cook, Flip, Fold ….and Enjoy!
On February 14th, many of the older children created beautiful Valentine’s Day cards and artwork to share with their friends and families. They also spoke about friendship and kindness, what it means to care about their families and how we can share with our younger siblings too!
Everyday, the children are using their senses to explore real-life objects made from different materials that come from nature and also from around the house. Through this sensory play, young children begin to make their own choices and decisions and start to gain an understanding of the world around them. This is such an important part of the children’s holistic development. The baby group in Elm Park are exploring the different textures of these sensorial materials, and the sounds they can make with wooden spoons and baking trays!
Chinese New Year (or the Spring Festival) began this year on Friday the 16th of February, and will be celebrated until the 2nd of March. In the Chinese Zodiac calendar, 2018 is the year of the dog. Thank you so much to Emma’s Daddy, Richard in Navan who came in to teach the preschool class all about the traditions and celebrations that happen during Chinese New Year.
All of our centres are currently hosting parent developmental evenings. The parent evenings are an excellent opportunity for parents to discuss these records with their child’s key carers, and to look at their child’s holistic development linked to the Aistear curriculum themes :
· Exploring and Thinking
· Well Being
· Identity and Belonging
Parents also have an opportunity to see and even experience some of the activities their children participate in on a weekly basis. We are dedicated to promoting each child’s individual emotional, social and physical development and working closely with parents as well.
At Giraffe, we believe in learning through play and provide a stimulating and safe environment where your child will have fun as they learn to learn. It is always so rewarding to receive feedback from parents and families about their child’s personal experiences in Giraffe. Our carers take a great sense of pride in planning play-based learning activities for the children.
It is always great to see exactly what the kids do during the day – and I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Agi and Jessica for all they do with Fiachra. He is learning so much and is so happy there. And another massive thank you to Mya, Monica and Dehlia. Rían is settling in so well and that is only because of all the care and attention he is getting…..and of course all the cuddles!! (Mum from Clonsilla)
I thought it was a great idea and I found the whole evening really beneficial in terms of getting to know the team better, understanding the method of learning used, routine in pre-school and baby room etc. I also met a few parents for the first time. I appreciate the thought that went into the evening and the time taken to meet us all. Its clear people take great pride in their work there. (Helen, Mum from Clonsilla)
We recently held some special informational evenings with our Parent Coach, Aoife Lee of Parent Support. The parent discussions covered a wide range of topics, including “Managing Change Together”, “Encouraging positive Sleep patterns” and “Biting – how to stop it”.
Our parents from across our centres had provided feedback on what they found were some of the more challenging aspects of parenting. These areas included:
In Stepaside, Aoife covered some important tips on encouraging routines for young children, around getting ready in the mornings, meal times, and in particular, around bedtimes.
In Milltown, the parent discussion focused on understanding our young children’s behaviours, as a result of what’s going on in their lives.
Children can sometimes act out….
Aoife joined us in Blanchardstown to chat about supporting young children with big transitions such as moving house, getting used to a new sibling or settling into new care rooms in creche.
From our parents feedback, the evenings were very informative and they enjoyed the opportunity to speak with Aoife one-on-one about their parenting stories as well.
A special thank you our Chefs who prepared some delicious snacks for the hungry parents who came straight from work! We look forward to hosting more parent evenings in the next few months.
Last Saturday, Giraffe Childcare’s Training Academy hosted a training day for 60 preschool carers, with Trish and Nicola from Canavan Byrne delivering workshops on speech and language development, music and movement and storytelling. Our senior crèche managers acted as our in-House workshop facilitators on the day, and covered a wide range of topics on preparing the preschool learning environment and best practice in care for the Preschool age group (typically 3-5 years of age).
The afternoon workshops included looking at ways to include age-appropriate activities for the children alongside the Aistear curriculum and Siolta guidelines. Some of our senior centre managers delivered skills demonstrations in small focus groups, covering topics like the Preschool learning environment and curriculum (led by Racheal and Marta), Speech & language development presented by Trish, Parent partnerships ( led by Ivonne), Managing challenging behaviours (presented by Susan) and Music, movement and story telling, presented by Nicola. The sessions were both interactive and interesting and the team all had an opportunity to be hands on!
It was great day and we all enjoyed refreshing and developing our skills. We have had some wonderful feedback from our practitioners and Giraffe Training Academy will host further workshops for all of our staff groups.
“We found the information extremely informative and thoroughly enjoyed the day working together.” – Jana, Alicia, Simone, Olga, Cinthia and Miguel from Rathborne.
“I learned a lot during the seminar and cannot wait to get back into the classroom to start the new activites with the kids!” – Marta, Adamstown.
In recognition of their dedication, all of participants went home with a goodie bag full of treats as a thank you for all their hard work.
A big thank you to our Centre managers, the central support team and all the practitioners who made the day such a success! Special thanks as well to Trisha and Nicola as well for their informative workshops on the Preschool curriculum.
Being one step ahead of our children’s behaviours can often be a task in itself! No matter what age, stage or phase our children are at, there will be moments when they struggle to manage the big feelings or to keep calm when those overwhelming emotions spill over. We also know, as a parent, it’s not just the children that need that extra support – the majority of parents will admit that they too find it a challenge to ‘keep their cool’ or to stay patient, particularly when we feel like our buttons are being pushed. Often it helps to think about what triggers these behaviours, as well as how to approach and support our children when they do appear to lose control.
Our approach can often influence how a situation escalate or calms, although tantrums and testing the boundaries are just part of growing up and are tough on everyone, I will take you through some ideas of what we can do to keep the calm or at least try to stay in control when it all goes belly up!
Although it can be difficult, it is important to see the world from our child’s point of view; understanding and empathising with our children can help us to cope better with challenging situations. Remember that most young children do not intentionally set out to act up and upset the adults (although some of you may strongly disagree with that point!). They really are just thinking only about their own needs and sometimes needs to test how far they can go before trouble strikes.
As every parent knows their own child best, you can probably see that much of your children’s behaviour is determined by their level of development. When they get frustrated or don’t get their own way, children act on their impulses and are not able to rationalise and self-regulate the way adults can; we can then see their emotions spill over and our children may lose control as they struggle to remain calm. As adults, we generally know what we need to do when we get really upset or stressed, many parents say that they find going for a walk, stepping away from the situation and taking deep breaths can help to relieve stressful situations. Our children do not have the same awareness so we need to help our children find ways to calm themselves because this is something that will stand to them in a very positive way as they grow up.
When you see a situation begin to simmer or feel like it’s gone beyond recovery, resist the natural instinct to ask your child “what’s wrong” or “how are you feeling” (the likelihood is they won’t know what to say). You might try instead to identify and name the feelings for them; for example “I know that you are really cross that you can’t go outside but it’s time to get ready for bed” or “I can see you are really angry because you can’t have the toy in the shop”. Naming their emotions is not going to stop things instantaneously but it can often diffuse a situation while also helping the child identify their feelings in the moment and manage the big emotions.
Both children and adults sometimes need to find a quiet space, away from an argument or emotional-charged situation, no matter what age we are. Try to give your child the option to ‘cool down’ or take a break and come back to the discussion when they have had some time to think alone. The more your child can identify that this quiet space is a positive option, the more beneficial it can be for the family, for example a pop up tent or a large beanbag can work as a physical representation of their quiet space. Very often adults are quick to send children out to the ‘naughty step’ as a means to calm down but I never recommend this as I don’t believe it works. Offering your child this quiet space when it’s getting all too much can be a gentle alternative, again it may not ‘work’ on the first suggestion but continue to offer your child this space and it may just click with them.
I know this is talked about a lot but if our children learn to recognise that breathing will help their growing bodies relax at times of stress this provides them with a way of coping when their emotions spill over. Help your child while sitting with them face to face, show them how to breathe in through their nose and out through their mouth – breath with them, slowly and calmly. Try to show that they can regain control. The more you practice this together the more they can identify with breathing as a helpful cool-down method, and they might begin to use it in their own time without any grown-ups taking over.
Our children need us to guide them through the tough times, helping them to keep as calm as possible, they rely on us to be in control – this is OK. Like anything it takes time, effort and a lot of perseverance!
Aoife Lee is Parent Coach to Giraffe Childcare. She is a mother of two children under the age of seven, she is an accredited parent and life coach and is founder of Parent Support. She facilitates parenting groups & talks in child care settings as well as providing staff training and private consultations with professionals in the child care field and for parents in their own home.
Festival time in Giraffe means that our centres are transformed into Castles, Jungles, Under-sea kingdoms and Pirate Ships! The children’s imagination and creativity help us to choose what themed activities take place each week.
We were so lucky with the weather this summer, as we try to host as many fun outdoor activities as possible to make the most of the fresh air and sunshine.
Here are the highlights from our Summer Festivals in 2017!
Sports Day is a great opportunity for children to get active and experience new games and sports with their friends. In Park West, the tyres made an excellent obstacle course and in Navan the egg and spoon race was the most popular activity for the little ones.
Prince and princess Day was a big hit in Navan with all the children and staff getting in the spirit of it!
The children in Griffeen had a splendid Circus Day, selling and buying tickets, walking the tightrope and jumping through hoops.
Jungle Days were one of the most popular days in the centres this summer, with David Griffin, Jungle Dave visiting centres with his amazing collection of pets. The children had lots of questions and were very brave holding the spiders and the snakes!
Lots of the children had camping trips this summer – learning how to put up tents, create their own pretend camp fires and even toasting marshmallows!
Every centre hosts an annual summer BBQ, inviting parents and families to come together and celebrate. These get-togethers are a fantastic way to meet other parents, catch up with your child’s edu-carers and enjoy some summer foods. Thank you to our talented and creative Centre chefs who take time out of their busy week to prepare the delicious BBQ treats and Feasts for the children and all the adults as well!
Every year during the summer months, the preschool children in Giraffe prepare for graduation parties and set their sights on Primary school. It is a wonderful time to spend together as parents and carers reminisce about their time with Giraffe, reflect on the friendships they have made, and celebrate their individual achievements.
Here are some photos that capture the excitement of the most recent Graduates There are more centres photos to come in the next few weeks….
Our Preschoolers at ParkWest had a lovely day for their graduation! The children sang their favorite songs for their parents, had a special balloon release, and enjoyed a party with their friends!
Congrats to the preschool graduates at Liffey Valley – the children all sang their songs beautifully! Our team who looked after them last year couldn’t be more proud. Wishing all of them the best in big school!
Hip Hip Horray! The preschool children in Lucan had a very special graduation day with friends and family celebrating their time with us in Giraffe. We wish them all the very best for Big School in September!
Congratulations to the recent graduates – The children made their own Giraffe paintings as a keepsake, and talked about what they want to be when they grow up. We were so lucky to have our graduation party outside in the garden, and enjoy the celebrations
Here are the Preschool graduates from NCI! Thank you to Priscila for preparing our amazing cake! The children sang all their songs so beautifully, and the parents and families shared memories about their time in Giraffe.
The children sang so proudly at their special Outdoor Graduation Ceremony. All of us at Adamstown are looking forward to hearing all about big school when the children visit us again in September!
Our preschool graduation in Celbridge was really special! We had a great turn out of parents. The children looked lovely in their t-shirts with their self portraits on them and their superhero capes with their initials! Magic Mal’s Dotty Magic Shows provided great entertainment and the photo booth proved really popular! What a great day!
A huge congratulations to our Preschool Kenya class in Blanchardstown who graduated this week! We had a lovely day of celebrations! Wishing the children all the best for Big School!
Congratulations to the Navan preschool graduates and their families celebrating their time in Giraffe.
The staff team wish everyone the best of luck in their new adventure!
The team in Central Park used the preschoolers Baby photos and their Graduation photos to make a wonderful display that the children could show to their parents and families! Congratulations to all the graduates and best wishes for your next adventure in Primary school.
The Preschool children performed a special “Rainbow play” for their parents and family at their graduation in ElmPark. The play was about all the different colours of the rainbow and how they are all equal and the same inside. Everyone did a great job at remembering their lines!
Congratulations to all the Preschool children as they prepare for Junior Infants in September! The graduates at Griffeen suggested an ‘Under The Sea’ theme for their ceremony, and the staff designed all sorts of wonderful games and activities for them on the day. Thank you to all the parents and families who joined us for the celebrations.
Here are the IFSC Preschool graduates and their families celebrating their time in Giraffe. The children loved meeting the special guest from Paw Patrol! The staff team in IFSC wish everyone the best of luck in their new adventure and are looking forward to hearing all about big school when the children visit us again in September!
What fun we had at our preschool graduation – thank you to Chef Jenny for preparing our amazing cupcakes! The children created self-portraits as a special keepsake for their families, and all the families shared memories about their time in Giraffe.
Happy faces all around at the Preschool Graduation in Northern Cross! The children had a lovely day celebrating with friends and families. The children put on a Gruffalo play, the Mad Professor magician arrived and did lots of tricks and we also had our family BBQ which made for a very memorable day.
The children chose a Dr. Seuss themed Graduation in Leopardstown! The preschool groups were very happy to be celebrating with their parents and friends. We wish them all the very best for their new adventures in Big School!
Congratulations to all our Preschoolers in Clonsilla, we had a wonderful time celebrating with their families and friends on their Graduation day.
We wish all of the 2017 graduates the very best as they start the next chapter of their adventures!
In our quest to give our children the richest academic experiences, at the earliest possible ages, with endless after-school activities, play dates and organised schedules, we have taken the time to play on their own out of the equation. The increasing number of children stuck indoors in front of screens, on tablets, computers and game consoles, leading ever more sedentary lives, greatly reduces the time that children have to play away from direct adult supervision and parental control.
Children need time to enjoy free play, a childhood that includes puddles, splashing, jumping, rolling, climbing, sticks and mud where they can learn how to manage and take risks in their lives. We are becoming an increasingly risk averse society, bubble wrapping our children and not allowing them to learn about risk safely and their own ability to handle and respond to it.
Risky play is defined as a thrilling and exciting activity that provides opportunities for children to learn about challenge, test limits, explore boundaries and learn about risk of possible injury: What happens if I do this? All play involves an element of risk, such as sliding, climbing trees, rough and tumble and by feeding children’s natural curiosity and innate need to explore with reasonable risks prevents them from finding greater unmanaged risks for themselves.
As adults, we can help children learn to manage risks for themselves and understand safety and don’t forget that children will fall down, scratch themselves and get bumps and bruises — this is not always a bad thing but part of an active and fun childhood.
Obviously a balance needs to be struck and no one is advocating putting children in overtly dangerous situations, but there are so many opportunities for children to learn about risk safely. It’s more about allowing them to have a bit of excitement and adventure in a controlled way. The restrictions put on children’s play are often based on the adult’s perception of what is dangerous rather than giving the children the freedom to judge situations and test themselves and to understand cause and effect.
A good start is by limiting screen time, trying to be less over protective and introducing boundless opportunities for children to learn about risk through play. Go back to basics and use the natural resources of the great outdoors. Set up an adventure course in the back garden with platforms, tunnels, jumps, balancing benches and beams, tyres and swings.
Let your child climb trees: choose trees that are an appropriate height for your child’s ability and see how high they can go. Learning to navigate the branches gives a real sense of adrenaline and then achievement. Your child’s inner instinct will let them know when they have climbed high enough and they will want to get back down.
Encourage your children to build dens and use sticks to write in the mud – your child’s imagination will flow as their hut will become a castle or a dungeon, their hideout away from adults.
Learning to ride a bike and negotiating the world on skates (especially going downhill!), are both great for building your child’s physical confidence in their own abilities. Also, simply climbing a wall and jumping off it will increase their awareness of balance, height, distance and they can make judgement calls and test their own boundaries at the same time.
For younger children, create a digging area in the garden and allow them to explore the earth, to dig for worms and bugs, and plant herbs creating smelling pots and then make perfume by grinding them together. They will also love puddles, watering plants and collecting rain water from the water butt to make mud pies.
Go to the mountains and just walk and run — let your children roll down hills and it’s even more fun in the snow in winter on the back of a toboggan. Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes, so invest in a raincoat or wet gear, wellingtons, hats and gloves and get your children outdoors to play and learn about cause and effect and risk safely.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU’RE ENCOURAGING RISKY PLAY
Giraffe Childcare’s Training Academy hosted a training day for 80 of our childcare practitioners with a focus on Interactions with 1 to 2 year olds.
Thank you to the workshop facilitators Nicola and Lillian from Early Childhood Ireland and Nicola from CanavanByrne who lead the training for the day. The workshops covered topics such as play-based learning, transitions for children moving rooms, and a wide range of skills demonstrations modules to promote best practice in care for the Wobbler age group (typically 12-24 months). The sessions were both interactive and interesting and the team all had an opportunity to be hands on!
It was great day and we all enjoyed refreshing and developing our skills. We have had some wonderful feedback from our practitioners and Giraffe Training Academy will host further workshops for all of our care groups.
A big thank you to our Centre managers, the central support team and all the practitioners who made the day such a success!
In recognition of their dedication, all of our staff went home with a small token of our appreciation and a treat to say thank you!
The children are waiting patiently at the lunch table, while Chef Natalia presents them with one of their favourite dishes…. Pork & Apple Casserole! Natalia has been our chef at Giraffe Blanchardstown for 4 years, and creates exciting seasonal menu options for the children.
The ingredients in this dish are simple and nutritious. Natalia explains that ” the natural sweetness of the apples compliments the pork so nicely. The children never leave any trace of the dinner on their plates, and always ask for second helpings!” . All our centre chefs use fresh pork mince to prepare this dish.
– Mixed Peppers
– Fresh Tomatoes
– Red Apples
– Olive Oil
– Mild Curry Powder
– Red Paprika
– Tomato puree
– Pork Mince
4. Take off the heat, blend the sauce using a hand blender, add pork mince and bring back to a simmer. Cook on a low heat for around 20 minutes. Thicken with a bit of cornflour.
5. Serve with long grain white rice and enjoy!
Smiling faces look forward to Natalia’s wonderful casserole!
The children’s menu has been carefully created with guidance from Cow & Gate and our kitchens use only the freshest meat and seasonable vegetables. Our centres have fresh fruit and vegetables delivered each week from Get Fresh and all of our fresh meat comes from Frank Doyle Butchers.
We’re happy to cater for vegetarian diets and any other dietary requirements your child may have. In keeping with recent legislation, we don’t add any salt, artificial flavourings or colouring and any potential allergens are carefully detailed in all of our menus.
Staff from each of our centres get together once a year to do a 10km mini marathon. Over 80 staff members signed up to take part in the 35th annual VHI Dublin Women’s Mini Marathon, one of the biggest all-women charity events in the world.
The rain on Monday June 5th certainly tested our spirits! But after training together for the Mini marathon for the last few weeks, our Giraffe team was ready to face the challenge.
Spotted along the Race route : “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch!
Our chosen charity in 2017 & 2018 is Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice. Laura Lynn is a hospice for children with life-limiting conditions and residential care for young adults with disabilities. They provide respite, home support, crisis and end of life care for sick children. It is a charity close to our hearts here in Giraffe. Each step of our 10km run brought us closer to our goal!
If you wish to donate, and support this great cause, please click here: Donate to LauraLynn Online.
Here is Mary from LauraLynn – Ireland’s Children’s Hospice collecting the cheque for €1000 from our Milltown Bake sale. A HUGE thank you to Lyndsey for organizing the event, and to all the parents and families who generously doanted, allowing LauraLynn to continue their work helping children with life limiting diseases.
Spotted along the Race route : “If you feeling like quitting, remember why you started running”.
Within our staff group, there were special prizes for the following awards:
We are very proud of team Giraffe for their hard work and for the money they all raised for Laura Lynn!
Lily in Pre- School Madagascar is proud to introduce her Grandpa Peter! Peter comes in every Tuesday to our Leopardstown centre for story time with the Pre-School group. The children look forward to his visits every week as Grandpa Peter always brings a new story book with him! Special thanks to The Book Haven Blanchardstown, who kindly donate books to Peter for story time.
This tradition started after the centre held their annual Grandparents Day in September and invited the children’s grannies and granddads to join them for games and activities. Grannies, Grandads, Nanas, Poppas, Grandma and Grandpas were all welcomed with freshly made scones, muffins with tea and coffee.The children also treated them to plenty of imaginary cups of tea! They enjoyed reading stories, playing games and puzzles and running around in the garden with their grandparents! The children were so proud to introduce their grandparents to their friends and teachers, and to spend the day sharing their stories with loved ones.
As well as making wonderful memories together, the team at Leopardstown could see what a truly special bond develops between young children and their older family members. Peter asked our team if he could return for story time another day, as he had really enjoyed Grandparents day, and so his weekly visits to our centre began.
Peter has a warm smile and a kind heart, and we all look forward to his Tuesday visits! He also tells magical stories and the children always have so many questions for him. He is also a great dancer so after story time Grandpa Peter does some tap dancing with Lily and her friends.
“I get so much out of seeing their faces when I read the stories. They light up the room. I hope that I will keep this up for years here in Leopardstown!” – Grandpa Peter
Our staff team have presented Peter with a special storytelling Fleece!
Among his long-list of super skills, Grandpa Peter also loves to bake! Peter baked a GIANT Jaffa cake, Brown bread and homemade Rasberry Jam for our Bake Sale Day, which we raffled off in our Centre! Team Giraffe is participating in the VHI Mini Marathon on June 5th, with all proceeds going to support LauraLynn Children’s Hospice.
We would like to thank Peter for being such a wonderful part of our centre, and for making us smile when you come in the door!
If any other parent or family members would like to get involved with a special activity in their Giraffe centre, please let us know!