Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Early Learning Environment | Reflective Essay

Early Learning Environment | Reflective Essay Marie Grey Reflective Diary Introduction For this reflective diary portfolio I have chosen to talk about two completely different activities, one outdoor and one indoor. The outdoor activity promotes holistic development in many aspects which I will discuss within the reflection and the main factor which affects this activity is the environment. In the indoor activity it also promotes different areas of holistic development which I will also discuss in the portfolio below in more details. The main factor here is relationships, family life or community and also social factors. I feel I have learnt a lot throughout this module. In regards of the learning environment and how important it is for the overall learning or development of a child. The environment plays an important role within the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) setting. In my opinion the environment as a whole includes the centre, areas, indoors and out, materials, curriculum and everything that surrounds or affects the child. Practitioners have a duty to provide a warm, safe, encouraging, supporting, friendly environment for each child to help them develop holistically and to their full potential. Age appropriate activities, materials, equipment, books and games are very important. Why I mention these areas, if the children are doing activities or have materials that are for younger children than them. They will stay at the developmental stage they are currently at without progression. On the other hand if the materials/equipment is suitable for older children they will have difficulty. For example if a 3yr old is doing a puzzle suitable for a 6yr old, it may be too hard for the child. They may become frustrated and gain a dislike for puzzles or lose interest altogether missing out on learning opportunities. Daily routines are equally important in their own right I have learned through this module how routines affect children. Daily routines are in place for the benefit of both staff and children. It benefits staff so they have an overall goal for the day to work towards. Also it allows staff to get the work they need to do done within a certain time-frame. How I think it supports and helps children, is by giving the structure and a sense of time, as children do not fully understand the concept of time. This makes it easier for them to identify what time of day it is feel it helps the day feel less long for those who are there for a full day. Also routine is important for pre-schoolers to prepare them for school. A big one which I feel is very important in every setting and in life would be equality and diversity. I have learned ways of promoting this. By doing activities and discussing different cultures with the children. It is very important to promote these areas as there are lots of different family types and cultures attending our settings. Space is very important for children. They need space to run around, explore, play and do activities. If there is limited space children haven’t got the freedom to play comfortably and grow as individuals. Also I find some children do not like others in their personal space and get very upset when others are too close to them. To prevent unnecessary anxiety a spacious area where a group can play comfortably is ideal. I will discuss further about areas I have gained more understanding and knowledge about and also my personal, professional and working as part of a team. Activity 1: The first activity I am going to talk about is an outdoor activity. It is called the Parachute. This activity involves a big colourful parachute with a group of 2-4year olds and also adult involvement. The reason for this activity is to promote well-being, thinking and exploring, communication and identity and belonging. While also supporting the learning and holistic development of each child while having fun doing so. Before I started this activity I informed the other staff members about what I was going to be doing and I asked them if they had a parachute on the premises in case I needed to get one. They had one already, so I proceeded into the storage room and took it out the back. I shook it out and checked it for health and safety matters to make sure it was ready and safe for use with the children. When I came back in it was time to get the children ready to go outside. When their coats where on I told them I had planned a fun activity out the back garden for them to play. They were very excited. We proceeded out and I called the children down to where I had set up the activity in the most spacious part of the garden. All the staff and children joined in on the activity and we had lots of fun doing it. The children threw balls onto the parachute and we lifted it up and down to try get the balls back off again. Then the children ran under the parachute while the staff manoeuvred it up and dow n for them. When they were finished the activity their play didn’t stop there. Some of the children wanted to put the parachute on top of the play house. When they asked if they could I simply said â€Å"of course you can†. The children where then leading the activity themselves. I decided it best if I just stood back and let them enjoy and lead their own play. Impact on holistic development. P.I.L.E.S Physical- The activity helped strengthen muscles, Hand-eye co-ordination, Gross and fine motor skills. The children were using their hands to grip/hold the parachute. Using bigger muscles in their arms moving them up and down. Intellectual- Imagination, thinking of new games, ideas, leading their own activities. Language-Communicating with each other, discussing ideas for games, learning new words such as â€Å"Parachute†. For children who have not done the activity before. Emotional- I feel this activity had a calming effect as the children saw it move in the wind. Also being outside would impact their well-being and relationship building within the group. Social- As this was a group activity it impacted on the children socially, they needed to share the parachute and work together in order for it to move. Learning opportunities. The learning opportunities that occurred during this activity where the development of concepts such as moving the parachute. Learning what is high and low, fast and slow, up and down, under and over. How this affects the children’s overall holistic developmental, the activity is promoting all areas of P.I.L.E.S. The affect can differ depending on the development of each child. Where some may be advanced for example in their physical development such as their fine motor skills, others may be more advanced in their cognitive development or intellectual development, understanding the above concepts better. In my opinion the affects it has on the child’s holistic development are beneficial. The activity is also providing the children with time to be out in the fresh air and giving them some exercise. Which will benefit the whole child and their well-being. Factors Environment- The outdoor environment provided freedom and space, the weather was nice, sunny, dry and slightly windy so the parachute could take flight! If there had been no wind the activity wouldn’t have gone as well. Activity 2: The second activity was an indoor activity. A family tree/wall. This activity involved a group of four children at different times. This activity in my opinion supported each child’s identity and belonging, well-being, communication, and also thinking and exploring. It also supported each child’s holistic development such as language, social, emotional, physical and intellectual as well as other factors that affect the child such as family and peers or community. I started by informing staff what I was planning to do and see if they had the materials I required. I discussed with the supervisor a time to carry out this activity and we agreed to break up the groups into four. The children involved where between 2-4years.I started by drawing a big tree, cutting it out, sticking it to a cardboard background to stiffen it. Then I mixed up some brown paint and called groups of four children down to the back table to paint. Each child got a branch or part of the trunk to paint . I then got the groups to draw their hand for the leaves. I cut them out, the children coloured them and drew their family on each fingertip. I could not use photographs for this activity because of personal reasons regarding a particular child. Impact on holistic development P.I.L.E.S Physical-The children were using paintbrushes and crayons. These impacts on their fine motor skills, strengthening their hands and pincer grips. Intellectual- The children had to concentrate on the activity, think about their families, and count family members. Language- The children talked about their families, the colours they were using, their pets, and communicated which each other. Emotional- I feel this impacted the most as the children expressed how they felt through their creativity and speech talking about people in their lives that played a big role in their lives. Their family. Social- It was a small or intimate group and the children socialised very well together. Talking and discussing the activity. Sharing the materials. Learning opportunities. This activity provided the children in my opinion, the opportunity to learn and explore different ideas on families and cultures. It also allows them to discuss their families and cultures or traditions. They have been presented the opportunity to learn about types of family structures such as one parent, two parent, same sex, adoptive/foster or any other types of families the children may have. Even pets in their family. Siblings and grandparents. They can discuss their own backgrounds and learn more about cultures and beliefs from each other. In my opinion this affects the holistic development of the child in many ways such as, how they connect or socialise with others in groups. The child as a whole is not only just their P.I.L.E.S but also their personality, environment, values, culture and experiences. Factors Social/Culture- I feel a factor that affected this activity was social/culture and community/family. How this affects in my opinion, the children expressed their feelings about their families and home life. This has a big impact on children as the family/guardians/parents are the prime care givers they affect every aspect of the child’s overall development and well-being. My personal and professional needs. Personally I have learned to be more confident and trust my own judgement more. Also to observe more and stand back letting the children lead their own activities’ feel more confident to share my ideas and opinions. Professionally I have learned to use different ways and approaches with children when it comes to behaviour feel I have progressed professionally and I am more confident to lead activities and communicate my ideas with staff feel I can work more professionally within a team and I am able to work on my own intuition with confidence that I am doing a good job and using best practice. I also feel I have helped other staff members identify their learning needs by giving them advice and ideas on their own learning, as there are some staff doing their Fetac level 5.I try to help them in any way I can by recommending activities and books that may help them. Personally I feel I need to learn more about each child’s interests so I can create more activities that the will benefit the children. Also I need to do more research on areas of development and how the factors that affect children. Professionally I need to learn more about each family and their cultures or beliefs so I can help the children explore these areas within the crà ¨che. I feel it will benefit myself and other staff members involved. In a professional sense I feel I have learned a lot, but still have a lot more to learn. Working as part of a team and maintaining professional conduct. â€Å"Practising in a professional manner requires that individuals have skills, knowledge, values and attitudes appropriate to their role and responsibility within the setting. In addition, it requires regular reflection upon practice and engagement in supported, ongoing professional development.†(Siolta Standards 2014) In my opinion it is very important to work professionally .Towards parents and staff members working effectively and in a professional manner shows external people how you use best practice in your setting. How you as an individual represent yourself, the sitting and the standard your service provides. In order to maintain good professionalism you must be able to work and communicate efficiently and efficiently with your team, management, children and parents. Respect is very important, to be professional I feel you must have respect for your colleagues, management, parents and children. Being respectful of other people’s ideas/opinions, backgrounds, choices, even if you may not agree with them or have the same values. Treating people with respect and consideration of their personal beliefs and cultures is very important and shows good professionalism. Staying supportive within your team can resolve or even prevent conflict or clashes with co-workers. Being supportive of their ideas and views can reflect on how the job is done. Working in a team is vital in childcare and practitioners may need support emotionally as well in some cases where the job or stress of the job may overwhelm some team members. We may need support ourselves one day and it’s nice to know your team are behind you to encourage and support you no matter what the situation may be. Building a good strong working relationship with your team not only benefits you and the team it also benefits the little people you are caring for. Again respect comes up, we are role models for the children we care for and if they don’t see us being respectful and supportive towards each other, how can we expect them to respect us or each other. What you put out there you receive back. Confidentiality and trust are equally important in their own right. We must be professional and use confidentiality in all areas of working. Towards parents, staff and children this is vital in childcare. Equality is important in any profession especially childcare all involved should treated as equals whether you are only starting your career or are the leader/supervisor/manager or most experienced. In my opinion if trust is lost or you become known as untrustworthy your professional career and relationship with all involved will suffer. When trust is gone it can never be replaced. (Class notes Team Leadership: 6N1948). Trusting your teams judgement is also very important, it helps the team prosper and grow knowing you trust and have faith in their decisions. All the areas I have discussed will help the team become stronger as a unit, therefor making it easier to provide the best possible care you can for the children and the support the parents may need whether they ask for it or not they will know it’s there when they need it. â€Å"Effective team members promote self-expression of ideas and feelings about group problems and operations. The staff members are candid and seem to know how other staff members feel about topics or issues being discussed. Ineffective teams avoid discussion of personal feelings or ideas. The general attitude is that discussion of feelings is inappropriate or potentially dangerous.† (homesteadschools.com 2013) References Siolta the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education ‘Standard 11: Professional Practice’ cited on: http://www.siolta.ie/services_standard11.php Accessed online [12th of June 2014] Fisher, Kenneth. (2013)_ â€Å"Leading Self-Directed Work Teams: A Guide to Developing New Team Leadership Skills [Online], Available at:http://www.homesteadschools.com/lcsw/courses/TeamBuilding/Section10.htm [Accessed 11th November 2013] (Class notes Team Leadership: 6N1948) unpublished 2013 Advocacy: People With Intellectual Disabilities Advocacy: People With Intellectual Disabilities This essay will look at the role of advocacy in relation to representing the views and interests of people with intellectual disabilities attending a day service. It will briefly look at the historical evolution of advocacy in general and then look in particular at collective self-advocacy and citizen advocacy models and how these are employed for the social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. Day services for people with intellectual disabilities are considered to be one of the major service providers but traditionally have contributed little to the promotion of social inclusion and self-determination (Fyson and Ward, 2004:64). Advocacy has a role in changing these services by working in partnership with service users to increase social participation and opportunities for everyday experiences such as employment and further education (Fyson and Ward, 2004). From reviewing and reading literature on the topic it is clear that there is much debate as to what advocacy means. Bateman (2000) suggests that the different types of advocacy can all be interpreted differently and therefore there is no universal definition of advocacy. But all have a common theme; helping another person obtain something from someone with power (Bateman, 2000:16). The evolving of advocacy into the multi-model that it now is has come from citizen advocacy and the representation of citizens views (Henderson and Pochin, 2002). The key principles within advocacy are respect for the clients view, as much empowerment and as little dependency for the client as possible, facilitation of informed choices, the advocate to be independent and choice of advocacy for the client (Woods, 2003:49). A key factor of advocacy is that it allows for the expression of views and wishes of marginalised people who are often relying on advocacy as a means of creating awareness of social issues but also as a means to assess their rights and entitlements (Henderson and Pochin, 2002). The attainment of rights is a key part of advocacy and that advocacy has a role in creating awareness of injustices (Bateman, 2000). But in relation to people with disabilities the rights are limited and are not enforceable by law (Lawson, on the Web, nd). A right can be defined as any claim that is morally just or legally granted as allowable (Final Report, 1995, cited in Forum for People With Disabilities, 2004:57). Historically people with intellectual disabilities have been socially excluded from society by prejudice and discrimination (About Learning Disabilities, on the Web, nd). Social exclusion rather than social inclusion was the norm where people with intellectual disabilities were excluded from their communities by residing in institutions outside the community and were not granted the same opportunities as others in the general population. Social inclusion in relation to people with disabilities is to increase their participation within society and to support them to have independent lives (Office for Social Inclusion, 2003). In relation to social inclusion many organisations such as voluntary and community organisations have used the concept of advocating for their members to improve social inclusion and participation (Woods, 2003:21). Traditionally the perceptions regarding people with disabilities was to see the person based on their perceived limitations but that these were challenged by disability groups that rights held by other citizens to also be attributed to people with disabilities (Barnes and Mercer, 2003). The European Social Charter (1996) states that people with disabilities have a right to independence, social integration and participation in the life of the community (Lawson on the Web, nd:8). Advocacy in relation to people with intellectual disabilities allows that each person has value (Gray and Jackson, 2002:9), which is in direct contrast to the historical view held by society of devaluing people with intellectual disabilities. That people with learning disabilities are citizens with the same rights and responsibilities as other citizens (Gray and Jackson, 2002:10). The most effective model of advocacy is that which matches the service users needs but there is often the need to employ more than one type of advocacy where the general overall aim is to promote the attainment of skills for self-advocacy (Woods, 2003). In relation to the needs of people with intellectual disabilities they can be considered to be the most complex in that the disability may not just have cognitive repercussions but physical disabilities also. The ranges of the intellectual disability that they are experiencing can result in diminished ability to communicate and cognitive ability. The complexity of their disabilities can result in limited opportunities for self-determination and being excluded socially from society (Inclusion Ireland, on the Web, 2003). A key challenge for a person with intellectual disabilities is to be seen as an individual that has the same rights and needs even though they have a greater dependency on their care-givers because of their intellectual disability (Inclusion Ireland, on the Web, 2003). Self-advocacy Model Self-advocacy can be employed for people with intellectual disabilities and that organisations need to support opportunities for self-determination in relation to their lives (Inclusion Ireland, on the Web, 2003). Self-advocacy is defined as a process in which an individual, or group of people, speak or act on their own behalf in pursuit of their own needs and interests (Bateman, 2000:18). Key to self-advocacy is that the individual should have the skills that allow them to represent on their behalf (Woods, 2003). According to Bateman (2000:18) the most influential form of self-advocacy is that of collective advocacy where people with similar needs come together as a group to seek a particular outcome the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. The collective self-advocacy model has some of its roots in trade unionism where during the 1940s collective advocacy took place during the World War II to challenge the welfare system. Civil rights movements during the 1960s in America drove collective self-advocacy regarding the rights for marginalised people (Bateman, 2000). As societies have modernised the concept of community has been lost to the importance of the individual but collective self-advocacy is continually used by groups to bring change on a macro level (Bateman, 2000). Collective self-advocacy is often the most effective form for people with intellectual disabilities in that for many as an individual standing alone the choices that they have are to agree to the services on offer or have none (Whitehead and Hughey, 2004). Group self-advocacy is of importance to people with intellectual disabilities because it can provide the opportunities to gain skills in communication, increased confidence and to express their view in relation to their rights and wishes (Woods, 2003). Shoultz (1992, cited in Woods, 2003) states that group advocacy can benefit people who do not have verbal communication skills to gain the confidence and skills to advocate for the group and themselves. An example of collective self-advocacy is People First, in Canada, People First have as a collective self-advocacy model challenged that no person with an intellectual disability will be forcibly required to be sterilised (Bateman, 2000). Therefore in order to challenge discrimination that many people with disabilities have joined collective self-advocacy groups to fight social injustices (Whitehead and Hughey, 2004). The characteristics of collective self-advocacy are that the group share experiences and knowledge to work together to address injustices (Henderson and Pochin, 2002). Collective self-advocacy promotes action on a macro level so that the vast majority of the collective group will benefit from the collective action that is being advocated for (Bateman, 2000). Woods (2003:36) supports this by stating collective self-advocacy can directly change services within an organisation and can be a resource for dealing with the day-to-day issues of participants. An illustration of this in relation to the scenario of the day service could be that the individuals together agree that a change in service delivery is required to enhance their independent living skills such as learning to operate the phones and participate as receptionists at the centre as a means to gain employment. There are different types of collective self-advocacy but the most common are the groups based in services (Woods, 2003:35). This is where the group is within a centre or service and generally meet during a calendar month to discuss issues that are of concern to the group members. A key worker or staff member may be needed to act as facilitator (Woods, 2003). A key aspect of self-advocacy in general is that it is driven by the person and in this way collective self-advocacy groups often represent a particular issue or group (Henderson and Pochin, 2002). Organisations such as St. Michaels House and Enable Ireland have group self-advocacy within their organisations (Woods, 2003). Collective self-advocacy can often be the ground breaker in provision of advocacy services within an organisation (Woods, 2003). Collective self-advocacy could be viewed as a means to support inclusion and participation by encouraging person power to impact on service development in general and to promote changes in social policies (Whitehead and Hughey, 2004). In terms of participation levels group advocacy within an organisation would be higher than other forms of group self-advocacy (Woods, 2003). A criticism of collective or group self-advocacy in relation to people with intellectual disabilities could be that the term self-advocacy implies that the person is directly representing themselves. But that in reality this is often not the case as in order to self-advocate a person with intellectual disabilities often requires a professional person to act as a support (Bateman, 2000). Also in relation to group self-advocacy within a service a criticism has been as to what degree are the choices made and available to the group members free from influence from the service and staff that may be facilitating the group advocacy meeting. Independent group self-advocacy away from the service has been suggested as a means to remove any potential service influence but that this may reduce the participation as it is not based within the service that is being used. Another criticism is that within the group self-advocacy that the focus can be based on the views and opinions of the most verbally expressive service users and therefore may not reflect the group as a whole (Woods, 2003). Also collective or group self-advocacy although initially established to challenge for collective needs or rights sometimes the group then becomes a service provider which would challenge its objectivity in relation to representation of wishes (Bateman, 2000). Citizen Advocacy Model Another advocacy model that is considered to be effective for people with intellectual disabilities is citizen advocacy (Woods, 2003). Citizen advocacy relates to the persuasive and supportive activities of trained selected volunteers and co-ordinating staffà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã‚ ¦. working on behalf of people with disabilities who are not in a good position to exercise or defend their rights as citizens (Woods, 2003:40). Citizen advocacy is considered to be supportive of people with intellectual disabilities who are often more dependent on the services that they are utilising and often more dependent on other people to advocate on their behalf (Walmsley, 2002). Citizen advocacy developed in the 1960s in America with the civil rights movement (Bateman, 2001). It was developed into the disability sector as a result of parents with children with disabilities observing that they received more relevant services when someone acted on their behalf as an advocate (Bateman, 2000). OBrien (1987, cited in Bateman, 2000:24) suggests that citizen advocacy has at its core the concept of the valued citizen who is not paid and is not a member of a service provider organisation. Woods (2003:40) also supports the concept of the valued citizen as being someone who does not have a problem getting heard, working with a person who is discriminated against. Another element of citizen advocacy is that through citizen participation actively advocating for the wishes and rights of the person that they are in turn challenging traditional perceptions of people marginalised within society to have full inclusion and participation as all citizens (Woods, 2003). The characteristics of citizen advocacy are that the advocate is independent from the organisation or service that the person is using or attending, that the advocate is not a relative and is not paid for advocating (Forum of People with Disabilities, 2001). The nature of the needs of a person with significant disabilities would suggest that citizen advocacy is best met when the advocate can support in the long term (Woods, 2003:41). People with intellectual disabilities have varying levels of needs and degrees of intellectual disability and citizen advocacy could be considered to be supportive of people with intellectual disabilities who could be considered to have greater needs (Woods, 2003). This model and has its foundation in normalisation and social role valorisation (Walmsley, 2002:26). Normalisation being that people with disabilities should have opportunities to experience everyday occurrences (Walmsley, 2002). Examples of citizen advocacy are Ealing and Harrow Citizen Advocacy and the Galway Citizen Advocacy Project as cited by Woods, (2003). The importance of citizen advocacy in relation to social inclusion is that by working in partnership with the person with intellectual disabilities to have every day opportunities as other members of the general population that it can reduce exclusion through its concept of giving value to the person (Fyson and Ward, 2004). This can result in challenging the societal view that with disabilities are a homogeneous group (Butler and Forrest, 1991, cited in Bateman, 2000:25). Citizen advocacy can be a means of identifying gaps in service provision and challenge discrimination and social exclusion (Bateman, 2000). The advocate rel ationship develops over a long period of time and that this creates opportunities to consistently support the person with intellectual disabilities to build their skills and their self-belief (Woods, 2003). The citizen advocate has two functions one of representing the person and secondly to act as a social medium by the personal relationship that is established between the advocate and the person (Woods, 2003). The actual volunteering of time to create a relationship is an important aspect within citizen advocacy in that for many people with intellectual disabilities the range of social opportunities available to them may be more limited than other people with disabilities (Woods, 2003). A criticism of citizen advocacy is that because of its voluntary nature that the advocate can be viewed by services to not have the knowledge or expertise to fully advocate on behalf of the person with intellectual disabilities (Forum of People with Disabilities, 2001). Another criticism is that conflict in terms of obtaining needs and rights can be an element of advocacy and that an inability to understand the function of conflict to create change can prevent citizen advocacy being effective (Bateman, 2000). Some self-advocacy groups have criticised citizen advocacy that it is maintaining the dependency bias that society assumes in relation to people with intellectual disabilities (Henderson and Pochin, 2002). Citizen advocacy which is often employed as a model for people with intellectual disabilities has in its application supported that people with learning difficulties need the intervention of able-bodied advocates if their wishes are to be taken seriously (Pochin, 2002:107). Bu t citizen advocacy could be considered to be supportive of social inclusion by its concept of valuing all people and promoting community participation (Whitehead and Hughey, 2004). Another criticism is that citizen advocacy requires time and commitment from the advocate and that a challenge is to find citizens that have the time available to give (Forum of People with Disabilities, 2001). Conclusion In conclusion advocacy should include that every individual should be listened to and to have an active part regarding the outcomes of their life (Woods, 2003). Advocacy has at its core the attainment of rights and needs (Bateman, 2000). Social inclusion could be considered to be supported by the principles of advocacy that promote empowerment and choice for people with intellectual disabilities (Woods, 2003). But for both advocacy models in relation to people with intellectual disabilities the greatest challenge seems to be that of asserting their right whether moral or legal to avail of the everyday opportunities that the general population can experience (Forum of People With Disabilities, 2001). That society generally questions the ability of a person with intellectual disabilities to self-determine and this has impacted on the development of advocacy models for people with intellectual disabilities (Gray and Jackson, 2002). The provision of advocacy services for people with inte llectual disabilities although attempting to challenge inequalities that unless people with disabilities have a legalised right to services that advocacy is meaningless without rights (Bateman, 2000:43). That by not enforcing rights regarding services and no proper recourse through the legal system because these services are not rights that advocacy cannot be truly effective in supporting social inclusion (Bateman, 2000). That enforcing rights to services would support the client becoming the consumer and could be an effective way of using advocacy to create social inclusion (Bateman, 2000). A challenge for both models is the funding required is often allocated to other supports and this can be contributed in some ways to the fact that advocacy is not universally defined and is not universally legislated for (Bateman, 2000).

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