30 August, 2021 | Posted by Michelle Hogan

How Do You Run A Child Centered, Inclusive Outdoor Early Years Setting?

Denise Sheridan Ulla Beag Outdoors Early Years Setting Portobello Institute

Denise Sheridan is an early years practitioner who specialises in creating learning environments where the interests of children are paramount. 

In 2010 she set up an Early Learning and Care setting ‘Ulla Beag’, an inclusive green nature school in rural east Clare.  

Denise is a current student of our MA Early Childhood Studies.

Ulla Beag was established with a play-based pedagogy, delivered through the framework of Aistear.  

This enchanting outdoor setting provides the experience of a rural play environment like that in which Denise grew up.  

The interests of the children are nurtured, and they participate in long term, short term and day to day planning of both the environments and activities at Ulla Beag. 

By adapting a child centred learning approach, she promotes a creative learning environment providing equal opportunities for all children.

Denise will present her experience of setting up and running this school at our upcoming early years webinar on September 20th from 7 - 8 pm. It is free to register and an e-certificate of attendance will be issued to those who join on the night.

Read more about our upcoming free expert-led early years webinar with Tim Gill and Denise Sheridan here.

There is a high value placed on biodiversity, sustainable living, nutritional learning, running the school garden, caring for the animals with the children and providing outdoor play experiences.  

Through active collaboration with children, their parents, local artists and networks she has led Ulla Beag through An Taisce’s green school program receiving six Green Flag Recognition Awards and two ECI national awards in Innovation and Creative learning approaches.  

Her work with the children and a local print artist was published on the Arts in Education portal exhibiting the use of multi art disciplines working with three-dimensional form and various craft skills to provide a more holistic teaching approach to pre-reading, pre-writing and pre-maths skills. 

“To remove our internal bias on how children should play we must get outdoors with them, so our environments must be child centred.  

“In a child centred environment, the adult can completely immerse in their play – you are on their level, in their zone. You are invited into their world, and it is an amazing place to spend a few hours with them,” she said.  

Working fulltime as an ELC practitioner, Denise is currently completing work as a research practitioner in inclusive education and completing her MA in Early Childhood Studies through the Portobello Institute and University of East London. 

Denise will give a presentation at our upcoming early years webinar about her experience of setting up and running this setting while howcasing her studies along the way. 

Register here to attend this free webinar led by Tim Gill, the creator of rethinkingchildhood.com

Read more about a day in the life of Denise's outdoor setting here.

Interested in Studying at Portobello Institute?

No matter what level of education you currently hold, Portobello Institute can guide you on your path to gaining a Level 9 in Early Childhood Studies.  

Our programmes start at Level 5 and Level 6 ECCE and Montessori. From there you can progress on to your Level 7 BA (Ord) degree. You can add a research project to your Level 7 and make it a BA (Hons) Level 8 and from there move on to your Level 9 all while building relationships with our tutors who will support you every step of the way.

The quality and experience of our tutors means you are learning from people who are qualified and know what they are talking about. You are not just a student number at Portobello, your tutor knows your name. 

Portobello Institute offers blended learning options so you can study online from anywhere in the world at times that suit you and your work/family life.

We have small class sizes and one-on-one tutor support to help make your goals accessible to you. 

We know that funding and the cost of education is a barrier for many people. We have set up easy payment plans so you can spread the cost over time.

Portobello Institute is the leading provider in early years education in Ireland with 40 years of experience. 

Click here to book a consultation to speak to our Early Years & Montessori advisor, Jennifer Matteazzi, about where you are on this journey and how we can guide you to achieve your goals. Call her directly on 01 892 0031 or email jennifer.matteazzi@portobelloinstitute.com.

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