“The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn…” Maria Montessori
Working in Childcare is more than creating a caring and loving environment for children. It is about providing them with wonderful experiences and opportunities to explore the world through play.
When you see the world through the eyes of a child you realise the fascination that they can find in the friendships and learning opportunities which in turn helps develop them, their interests and to understand the world. This can be seen though the amazing activities that are developed and led by the children where the childcare practitioners are just the facilitators of the children’s learning and exploration.
“We sometimes forget, for young children, the world around them is new and exciting – it is quite often the first time they get to experience new things like a wriggly worm” says Jurgita, a centre manager at Giraffe Childcare.
“I encourage my team to take the time to let our children explore their environment, the resources and the materials we use during our activities, and to ask lots of questions about what we are doing again and again and again!
“Repetition is an important part of learning for young children especially during the early years. Children love repetition – children will often play the same game again and again as it provides security and familiarity and enables their confidence to grow. Once a task has been accomplished, children feel safe to explore their interests further and extend their learning.
“It is really important for a child’s learning to allow them to make mistakes as this expands their way of thinking and their problem-solving skills. In our centre, we are reducing the usage of plastic items and replacing them with adult size real resources like ceramic delph, glass vases, glass jars etc, we teach the children how to use and play with glass and ceramic tea sets. If it slips and breaks it is not a big deal. We will clean it up we will discuss with the child what we could do differently, so it won’t break in the future.
“This allows the children to analyse and reflect even to understand that there are consequences in the sense I dropped something that is glass – now it is broken and cannot be repaired.
In Giraffe Celbridge, my team and I are aiming to connect both the indoor and outdoor world. We want to send a message of less is sometimes more. Less direction, intervention and less restrictions foster responsibility and trust and the opportunity to thrive.
“We invited the children to collect nature items that they find when out and about with their families. This simple activity of creating their own nature table has given the children so much joy as they bring their little nature treasures such as conquers, leaves, twigs and flowers to the centre.
“Children learn through touch, handling and investigating, they prompt their own learning through collecting natural resources and what nature has to offer, sharing this with their peers. It is so rewarding to watch their natural curiosity expand as nature provides so many learning opportunities for young children like collaboration, imagination, care, initiative, persistence. “
One of the most popular spring time activities for the children in Giraffe Celbridge is fruit and vegetable planting area during the spring. It is a lovely activity as it helps support the children to understand where food comes from, the idea of healthy food choices and also how to care for the environment around us.
The children are always involved in the sowing of the seeds, watering and caring for the plants and vegetables to finally harvesting them. We even cooked some of the fruits of our labour for the children to enjoy!
Jurgita’s career path
Jurgita joined Giraffe Childcare in 2010 and started her career in Giraffe as a centre manager in Rathbourne. Today, she is the centre manager in Giraffe Celbridge which is one of Giraffe’s larger and busier centres.
Jurgita’s passion for curriculum and offering children natural learning opportunities through their environment around them is truly seen throughout. Jurgita’s motivation and enthusiasm is felt by all her staff, the children and their families. She believes that the simplest of things are the most extraordinary.
“I constantly encourage my team to look at the world around them through the eyes of a young child. I ask them to remember their childhood and what things that fascinated them the most. Using these elements and incorporating them in our centre activities everyday ensures that the children are engaged, helps to develop their learning, life skills and gives them a different perspective on life.
“One of the great things about been involved with an organisation like Giraffe as centre managers and childcare practitioners, we are encouraged to expand our teaching ideas. We are motivated, rewarded and given the resources to enhance learning outcomes for children. We are encouraged to bring new ideas to our centres and to be recognised as individuals. “
This type of learning is seen across all Giraffe Childcare centres. The benefits for the children’s development are clearly evident and it is amazing how children’s interests are developed from the environment around us.
“To see the world through a child’s eyes ignites the creativity and learning opportunities for the children and childcare teams”.
The role of a childcare practitioner is one of the most rewarding careers. To help facilitate a child learning, development and confidence grow from strength to strength provides daily reward, satisfaction and delight! Knowing that no two days will ever be the same ensures it can excite! The part that we play in children’s lives leaves lots of happy memories right through to their adult life
Giraffe Childcare has 21 childcare centres across Dublin, Meath and Kildare with an additional two more opening in Rathgar and Lucan opening in 2022/2023.
Voted Crèche of the Year seven years in a row by its parents, it is held in high esteem as the leading childcare provider in Ireland. Giraffe is a member of the Busy Bees Group.