The Growing Tree is committed to providing a curriculum that supports children’s development through an emerging inquiry based curriculum. This mode of curriculum is underpinned by Aistear- The National Early Childhood Curriculum Framework, Siolta -The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education.
The curriculum supports children’s learning and development. Observations determine children’s interests and abilities leading practitioners to plan activities and provide materials that engage children, build on existing skills and provide a platform for new learning. This model empowers children promoting partnership and allows for all children’s development. Children are supported and encouraged to share their voice, gain independence, become problem solvers, decision makers, be creative, persistent, curious and to be respectful of themselves and others through positive and reciprocal interactions from educators. Early years educators provide an appropriate environment, that provides timely interventions, support and continuity to promote positive attitudes towards learning and life.
Aistear – Aistear is comprised of four themes. Communication, Identity and Belonging, Well-Being and Exploring and Thinking. Within these four areas are a multiple of aims and goals which provide a framework to guide children’s practice which facilitates learning.
Siolta- Siolta is comprised of 12 principles. It is designed to define, assess and support the improvement of quality across all aspects of practice in early childhood and education settings for children from 0-6 years of age.
The Growing Tree recognizes parents and families as being children’s first educators and the most important people in their lives. The care and education children receive from their parents and family in their formative years greatly influences their overall development. Children’s extended family and community also share a role in children’s development and education. We respect children’s background and culture. We give parents opportunities for parents to share information about their child from outside of the service and share ideas which we can introduce into the playroom. Working with parents supports relationships with children and families that are respectful and inclusive, promoting learning and development.
Building positive relationships with children is integral to their learning and development. Learning is acquired through interactions between the child and early years educator. Interactions can be led by either the child or adult. Learning is enhanced through having a respectful understanding of the child, their uniqueness, experiences, abilities and needs. Key workers are assigned to children for the purpose of observing, planning for groups and gaining a deeper understanding of the child, this ensures children’s needs are met and practices put in place to support the learning and development of the individual.
Our curriculum supports children’s well-being, encourages feelings of safety, trust and emotional security to children and their families. It meets all of the requirements of Aistear and engages children in a holistic approach to learning and life.
Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE)
The Early Childhood Care and Education scheme is a universal childcare programme designed to give children access to a maximum of two years free pre-school education before they start primary school. It is available to all children who are two years and eight months by 31st August.
National Childcare Scheme (NCS)
The National Childcare Scheme is a landmark new scheme for Ireland. It is a single streamlined and user friendly scheme to help parents meet the cost of quality childcare. Supports are available for families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years who are attending participating TUSLA registered childcare services. For more information click www.ncs.gov.ie Under the National Childcare Scheme (NCS), parents receive discounts which are then applied to the following rates applicable from September 2019:
€67.00 per week /€13.40 per morning
2.00pm – 6.00pm: €70.00 per week / €14.00 per day
3.00pm – 6.00pm: €60.00 per week / €12.00 per day
Hourly Rates: 2-3pm €4.50 / 3 - 4pm €5.50
Two Hourly Rates: 2-4pm / 3-5pm €10.00
Daily rates apply after 2 hours.
Fees are reviewed annually and are set at a rate that ensures continuance of service.
Our rates are set in compliance with criteria laid down by the national Children’s Investment Programme (NCIP).
For more information on any of the schemes please contact Mary.
What Our Day Looks Like
Dropping off your Child
Children and parents are greeted each morning by a staff member, if you have any information you need to give staff for the day ahead, this is a good time. Children are supported in their transition each day and staff will work with parents to find ways to help settle a reserved child. Children are encouraged to be independent hanging up coats, putting lunches into trolley. Children are encouraged to get materials for themselves and communicate their needs and wants. Staff are experienced in picking up on non-verbal cues from children. Children are encouraged to be independent as much as possible but are given help when necessary, this is always in line with the childs age and ability.
Choice time gives children opportunity to choose materials and activities that they want to explore and engage with this can last between 50 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the level of involvement of the children, this is a time for adults to move around the room and interact with different children and engage in their activities at a level where the child is the leader in the play. Adults use this time to engage children in interactions and conversations to support the learning that is taking place this applies to all aspects of a childs play, learning can always happen. Staff ensure they do not take over the play but become equal partners in play, this supports and recognizes the ‘voice’ of the child and encourages the child to be and active partner in learning. At the end of this period staff use a sand timer to show the children that this part of the day is over the sand timer gives children time to have a last minute play before tidy up and prepare them for transition. Children are encouraged to tidy away one activity before moving on this encourages children to be responsible. At the end of this period staff use a sand timer to show the children that this part of the day is over the sand timer gives children time to have a few more minutes to play before tidy up and prepares them for transition. At the end of this period all children are encouraged to help tidy all materials and toys away, this helps children become involved in classroom community and have a shared responsibility, it also indicates that it is a time for a transition.
All of the rooms have their own way and times for when different routines take place but each room is consistent in what they do. All of the rooms have small and large group times, some days having one of either or perhaps both depending on the needs of the children on the particular day.
Small group consists of the coming together of a group of children and joining a key worker for an activity based on the childrens interests these are variable and are planned to engage all the abilities of the children in the group. These activities are planned from observations made by the key worker on what children are currently interested in, the aim being to provide an activity which will engage the children while providing a platform for personal development and learning. Also, small group can be used to introduce a new topic that is relevant for the children development or well-being. Again a sand timer is used to alert children to a transition.
Large group consists of all staff members joining with the children to engage in an activity that all children and adults take part in, this is also based on children’s interests or can be used to introduce something that is relevant and promotes the development and well-being of the children. Sand timers are used to signal an impending transition.
Children are encouraged to wash their hands and find a seat for lunch, children may be chosen to hand out lunches as children get older they are encouraged to recognize their lunchbox, bring it to the table and collect their drink. After lunch children are encouraged to tidy up, get their coat, take off shoes and place together before getting their wellies (on wet days). Children are encouraged to be independent, children’s ages and abilities are all different and each room works with their group of children. Younger children will require a lot more help than older children.
Children have lots of opportunity in the outdoor area to engage in physical play. Outdoor play is important for children’s development and well-being. Children have opportunity to run, climb, slide, play ball, use sand house, ride bikes and tractors and have the use of a polytunnel. The children may not have all of these things every day. Children play out every day, we have shelters for wetter weather where children can have toys from the shed to play with. Adults remain engaged and available to children while ensuring their safety. A bell indicates time to return to the playrooms.
Each room has their own routine for getting ready for home. Children are aware parents/minders are coming at this time and can be very excited, staff are aware of this and the priority is to keep children as calm as possible and for all children to leave the room in a safe manner. Staff will do their best to have a few words as children leave, however this is not always possible. Staff may need to speak to you, if it’s not possible at this time staff will ring you after the session.
Depending on the room and the children attending the room, routines may differ, all except hometime. If at any time you need to discuss your child please make an appointment by ringing the service to do so. If you need to speak to a staff member urgently let the staff member know and they will do their best to accommodate you.
Observations are recorded and photographs taken during the day by staff. These are to facilitate planning and for reflection on children’s learning. Parents receive child observations each month and phots and descriptions are placed in the hall way for parents and families to share.
Areas of Learning- Aistear
Theme 1 - Well-Being
Childrens well-being is critical for a child to be happy and content. At The Growing Tree we provide early experiences to promote positive mental health and emotional well-being. Emotional well- being impacts on childrens well-being and the ability to learn. Having positive interactions with families and children promotes trust and confidence. Through positive interactions, conflict resolution and being respectful of each other, promote values that enable children to be emotionally and sociably responsive. Enabling children to have a sense of their own self-worth, encouraging them to believe in their own uniqueness, how special they are and enabling them to recognise and express their feelings while becoming more in tune with other people’s feelings. To do this staff engage children with activities to support their understanding of feelings, to communicate physical sensations that accompany emotions while helping them to learn positive strategies to overcome negative emotions. Children are actively involved in discussion and participation through art, stories and role play.
Theme 2 – Identity and Belonging
Children have their earliest experiences from within the family and parents are respected as childrens first educators. It is a huge step into the world when children begin their educational journey. Parents are a valued partner with The Growing Tree and can help us to support their child through interactions giving information and being involved, this may be coming in for a morning to engage in an activity with children, coming in for a sing song or having positive interactions with staff. When children see parents interested in their education they see the value of learning. Children learn about themselves and their increasing abilities and begin to gert a sense of the bigger world. The wider community provides a cultural background that helps children learn about who they are and what is in their locality and how it involves them, this can be as basic as Mammy or Daddy working in the local bakery this can provide a wealth of information and opportunities to support the childs interests and learning, places children are familiar with, for example a discussion about the bridge over the river gives opportunity for a platform, from which a rich learning experiences can occur that leads to increased knowledge and understanding.
Theme 3 - Exploring and Thinking
Children are explorers and are naturally inquisitive about their world, how it works and why. Children explore using all of their senses, this leads to thoughts, ideas, investigations and questions. At The Growing Tree children are encouraged and supported to explore their world to discover how things work and why. Children are encouraged to think and ask questions and find solutions based on their theories as to the how, whys and what’s. Adults support children through open ended materials, opportunities and questions to encourage self-directed learning, this enables children to work in partnership with staff while developing dispositions such as curiosity, creativity, resilience, responsibility, problem solving, perseverance, independence, being interested etc etc. Children are encouraged to explore and think through all areas of learning including science, mathematical concepts, geography, history, arts and crafts, literacy and the natural environment.
Theme 4 - Communicating
Communication occurs through many mediums from language and literacy to singing, rhymes, role play, art and craft, role play, building. Children use different methods to communicate their ideas, at The Growing Tree we encourage and respond through the provision of engaging materials to help children pursue and develop their interests.
Language, Literacy and Numeracy
Language, literacy and numeracy are embedded in all four themes. Children develop language both verbally and non-verbally from a very young age. Children need language in order to develop literacy skills. Literacy emerges gradually over time during the early years. Literacy is the integration of listening, speaking, reading and writing this takes shape through mark making, drawing, ‘reading books’ looking at print etc. Reading and writing begin with learning language, in The Growing Tree we use many forms of play based activities to provide a platform for each child to learn at his or her own pace. The emphasis is on learning through play that is shared with children through their interests. Supportive relationships that emerge with staff and continued observation of each child ensures staff within the setting provide materials and activities to support the child’s emerging language, literacy and numeracy development. Numeracy is more than counting, it is gaining the ability to use mathematical understanding and skills to solve problems and learn to think and communicate quantitatively, to make sense of data, gain spatial awareness, and to gain an understanding of when mathematical reasoning can be applied. The Growing Tree aims to provide children with many opportunities to engage and enhance these early mathematical concepts based on children’s interests and abilities. Improved communication and oral language skills of young children, underpins their development of literacy and the concept of mathematical ideas and language. This supports children’s life- long benefits for the child, family and wider community.