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Press release, 22/07/2011: Children place high value on input into activities, being able to play outside and the need for family involvement.

Start Strong
3rd Floor, 6/7 Exchange Place, IFSC, Dublin 1. Tel: 01 791 0100 www.startstrong.ie

For immediate release: 22nd July, 2011.

Children place high value on input into activities, being able to play outside and the need for family involvement.

Young children have revealed their vision for early care and education in Ireland in a novel consultation carried out by Start Strong, a coalition of early childcare and education groups. The publication ‘If I had a Magic Wand’ , which was launched today by Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald, brings together a selection of material and key findings from the consultation with 3-5 year olds that aims to highlight their vision for early education in Ireland.

The consultation involved more than 600 children aged 3-5 years old and asked their thoughts through open-ended themes, for example: “If you had a magic wand, what would you change here?” or “What would the best playschool ever be like?”

The consultation revealed that the most frequent themes and concerns for children centred on: children’s enjoyment of being in early care and education services, the value children place on being able to shape their daily activities, the importance of playing and using their imaginations, their desire to play outdoors and be physically active, their interest in animals and finally and the importance of having families around them.

Start Strong Director, Ciairín de Buis stated “The importance of play, being able to play outside, the value to children of having scope to shape and be creative in their daily lives and the importance of family support emerged as the central themes from the consultation with children. As part of our wider consultation, we spoke with a wide range of stakeholders, including parents, Government officials, NGOs and professional bodies, however, speaking with children themselves and hearing their own vision for early care and education reinforces the need to strengthen family involvement in services and design services to cater to families.”

The consultation formed part of Start Strong’s Children 2020 project and was coordinated by three organisations that form part of the Start Strong coalition: Barnardos, the Border Counties Childcare Network (BCCN) and the Irish Pre-school Play Association (IPPA).
Ms de Buis continued “The consultation phase of Children 2020 project aimed to develop a shared vision for the future of children’s early care and education in Ireland and stimulate debate about the direction of the Government policies for young children. If policy-makers are to develop policies that are in children’s interests, then they must listen carefully to what children themselves have to say.”
‘If I had a Magic Wand’ aims to show that children can and should be an important voice in the development of policy” Ms de Buis concluded.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Jemma Hogan, Montague Communications: (01) 830 3116 or (085) 722 9024