Early Years – the organisation for young children is the largest organisation in Northern Ireland working to promote high quality early years care and education for children aged 0-12 and their families.  It was established in 1965, and is a membership-based organisation, a registered charity, a company limited by guarantee and is governed by a Board of Directors. 

The mission of the organisation is to promote and develop high quality, evidence-informed early childhood services for young children, their families and communities.

The vision of the organisation is that young children are:  strong, competent and visible in their communities; eager and able to learn; physically and emotionally healthy; respectful of difference.

Early Years Support Services – a team of Early Years Specialists provides support and advice to early years settings on an individual, group or peer network basis. This includes support, advice and mentoring in specific special and additional needs of young children.  The team assists providers in assessing their needs through self-evaluation programmes, planning, implementing and managing all aspects of high quality service provision in early years care and education in order to achieve positive outcomes for children in their early years.

Training –  Early Years delivers a wide range of in-service programmes that continue our drive to improve practice by applying an appropriate play based curriculum. Our training is for member groups, parents, all adults working with young children in pre-school settings, daycares, SureStart, nursery and foundation stage and management committees  .and other professionals in the sector. This training is supported by a range of resources, including in-house publications and others.

Early Years has developed bespoke training courses on innovative approaches to preschool education to meet the needs of Early Years practitioners/teachers/professionals.

While the curriculum for pre-school education is set out under six discrete headings (The Arts; Language Development; Early Mathematical Experiences; Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Physical Development and Movement; and The World Around Us), children should experience it in a holistic way through play and other relevant experiences. Children should have opportunities to use a range of ICT resources (for example cameras, listening centres and computers), which will motivate them, enhance and extend their learning, and give them opportunities to engage in self-directed learning.

Within this framework and under the curricular area of ‘The World Around Us’ Early Years training and support services aims to explore how ICT can be woven appropriately into children’s learning and development in the Early Years

  • to explore how children use media such as computers, projectors, light boxes and digital imaging to support their understanding of the world
  • to explore how the adult supports children’s understanding of their world through media such as computers, projectors, light boxes and digital imaging

‘Exploring reality is an ongoing condition of early childhood. Young children inhabit the space by continually constructing places (imaginary and real) within the place in which they are situated. Just a few elements and objects suffice for creating a variety of situations and landscapes: artificial light sources, light sources, slide projectors for example when left at the children’s disposal lend themselves well to the construction of virtual spaces. The environment for young children should take into account their desires and abilities to construct places and offer elements and instruments to satisfy their desires and help their abilities to grow’ (Children spaces relations Reggio children and the Domus Academy research centre)

The planning and integration of digital resources starts with the child and ensures that our choice of ICT supports communication and collaboration and that the application of ICT supports learning to learn (meta cognition)

The role of ICT in education has changed considerably over the last decade and we in the Early Years need to keep up, overcome our fears of the digital world and embrace what is so engrained in our children’s lives, now and in the future.