Three Early Childhood Ireland Awards For Glen Outdoor School

We really enjoyed our night at the Early Childhood Ireland ‘Play on the Brain Conference’ in Dublin last weekend. It was great to meet so many other childcare professionals around Ireland and it was lovely to catch up with old friends.


We were thrilled that the Glen Outdoor School won two learning stories’ awards, as well as an overall award on the night. It really was the icing on the cake.


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The conference was also very useful in terms of discussing key issues affecting our profession including commercial rates and VAT, ECCE issues, inspection processes, support for children with additional needs, as well as issues around recognising the childcare sector as a profession with appropriate pay and conditions.


Congratulations to all our staff and to the parents and children who support us. We couldn’t do it without everyone’s help and it really is a great team effort.


Thumbs up from everybody at Glen Outdoor School.

Early Childhood Ireland Awards at Croke Park Conference Centre

We’re very excited about the upcoming Early Childhood Ireland ‘Play on the Brain’ conference which is being held this weekend, Friday 17th and Saturday 18th April at the Croke Park Conference Centre, Dublin. The two day event will involve over 40 inspirational early years’ practitioners and practices from around the country and will recognise the positive impact they have on children and families. The awards will be presented by Nóirín Hayes, visiting Professor at the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin and our very own Glen Outdoor School team will receive two ‘Learning Stories’ awards. We are also in the running to receive an ‘Overall’ award at the conference.

ECI-LogoThe first award is in recognition of The Glen Outdoor School “Enormous Turnip” activity. The activity takes places in autumn, the same time as harvest season and the children re-enacted The Enormous Turnip story so they could harvest their own pumpkin. The children put so much effort into it and they had to pull and transport the pumpkin. Parents often ask, how will we do all this and we reply, the Glenswilly way….

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The second award, which has been shortlisted for the overall award, is in recognition of “Our Christmas Play”. The children gathered their ideas of what they’d like their Christmas play to look like and then went around and gathered up all natural, outdoor materials to create their stage and setting. It was truly wonderful to watch children use their imagination and create something brilliant from the materials that surrounded them. They’re hoping to have something very special for next year too.


Early Childhood Ireland represents over 3,500 childcare professional members who support over 100,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool and full day-care provision nationwide. We’re honoured to be recognised in this way and we look forward to a great night on Friday. For more information on the awards and Early Childhood Ireland contact Carmel Doyle 087 247 3537.

Tree Planting in Letterkenny’s Cathedral Quarter

We were delighted to join members of Letterkenny’s Cathedral Quarter committee in Sentry Hill last week for a tree planting ceremony. The tree was part of our entry into the White Winter Garden Competition in the Church Lane last December. We donated it to the committee as a symbol of the re-growth and regeneration currently taking place in Letterkenny’s Cathedral Quarter.

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Committee members Donnan Harvey and Mary Hegarty were present at the replanting of the Green Beech tree. The Cathedral Quarter originally began as the Save the Church Lane campaign. Since its formation last year, the project has gathered significant momentum in its efforts to regenerate the historical Church Lane. The long term goal is to create a hidden treasure in the heart of Letterkenny for locals and tourists to enjoy.


With Paddy’s Day fast approaching, there will be a series of outdoor concerts in Letterkenny’s Cathedral Quarter on Saint Patrick’s Day, this Tuesday, 17th March 2015. Parade spectators will be kept entertained by a variety of traditional music and dance performances on Letterkenny’s Church Lane. The Cathedral Quarter committee will also be participating in the Letterkenny St. Patrick’s Day Parade. There promises to be lots of colour and a great atmosphere and organisers are hoping for a large turnout to celebrate our national holiday.  

For more information log onto www.facebook.com/SaveTheChurchLane.

Parent Information Evenings

We’re hosting a series of information evenings for parents on the benefits of outdoor play in childhood. It’s a great opportunity to find out more about our schools and there’s no obligation to register. Come along, have a chat and get answers to any questions you might have. You can also meet some of our parents who’d be happy to tell you why outdoor schooling is right for their children. Here are the details (double click on the image to enlarge it) and please feel free to spread the word….

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And here’s an article on our schools from The Letterkenny Post…


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The Benefits of Outdoor Winter Play

We have so few snow days in Ireland, so when they come along, it’s wonderful to make the most of them. Our children had great fun playing in the snow these past few days but aside from great fun, there are very real benefits to outdoor winter play….

Pure Fresh Air

The viruses that cause flu and colds are more common in the winter months. More often than not, these viruses circulate indoors, in closed environments. Snow is exhilarating, as is the pure fresh air we breathe on days like today.


Strengthen Immune System

Playing outside is brilliant for children’s immune systems. There are numerous studies linking outdoor activity to additional health benefits.


Stimulate the Imagination

Making a snowman is brilliant fun for children (not to mention adults!). It allows them to express themselves in play, creatively and freely, without being bound by pre-set limitations. The children’s creativity and imagination was unlimited as they worked and shaped the snow. And they were delighted to see their hard work transform the snow into their very own snowman. 


Physical Exercise

Snow days provide so many great opportunities for outdoor fun and adventure. Playing in the snow provides children with unrestricted space and endless opportunities to stimulate their play, learning and physical development.


Fun Memories

Wrapping up warm to play with friends and family in the snow gives children memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Building snowmen and making snow angels are great fun, even more so because children appreciate that these days don’t come along too often. 


Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone. Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015. We had a lovely festive break and are looking forward to the start of a brand new year. Before Christmas, we were delighted to win best group entry in The Cathedral Quarter’s ‘White Winter Christmas Garden’ which was unveiled on the Church Lane in Letterkenny. The initiative invited schools in the town to design and create Christmas window boxes for the Cathedral Quarter and here’s our winning entry…



And here is our 2015 calendar, which is going down a treat….



Outdoor Play Matters

Anyone looking for more information on the benefits of outdoor play can pick up a copy of Outdoor Play Matters in one of our three schools. It’s written by Marie Willoughby and encourages parents to think about the value of outdoor play in their own childhood.

The list of benefits of outdoor play includes fostering independence, improved decision making and problem solving, stronger immunity and greater strength and resistance. It’s an excellent, simple-to-read guide with plenty of food for thought…


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European Delegates Visits Glen Outdoor Early Learning School

We hosted a European delegation last week at Glen Outdoor School. The study visit took place as part of the Assembly of the European Regions (AER) conference, which saw up to 100 delegates from all over Europe visit Letterkenny over a three day period. Glen Outdoor was selected because we are Ireland’s first outdoor school and the purpose of the visit was to showcase the importance of fostering independence in children from an early age.


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Sally and the Glen Outdoor team welcomed the delegation and talked to them about our school’s ethos and philosophy. We explained the importance of outdoor play in childhood and the key developmental role it plays in helping children learn risk mastery. We also referenced the importance of the three T’s, ‘Things Take Time’ and explained how, in today’s world, children are often not given the time they need to learn and grow.

The group toured the outdoor setting, including a visit to the school’s pond, vegetable patch and poly tunnel. Children proudly showcased a huge pumpkin that they had grown themselves and were preparing to carve for Hallowe’en.


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Delegates also sampled some blackberry jam which the children made from berries they picked earlier in the year. The visitors were very impressed by the school, which is located in Barrack, Glenswilly, just four miles from Letterkenny. They really got into the outdoor spirit and a few of them wondered if there was a facility like this available for adults!




Hosted by Donegal County Council, the AER conference focused on E-health, Independence and Inclusion in the 21st Century. The conference was the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe and the delegation was comprised of policy and decisions makers from across Europe including Sweden, Denmark, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Turkey, Belgium and the UK. We want to thank Donegal County Council and all the delegates for taking the time to visit our school.


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C’mon Donegal!

All-Ireland fever has well and truly landed in Donegal. The staff and children in each of our three Early Learning Schools wish the Donegal Senior and Minor teams all the best in their games against Kerry. We had great fun earlier today dressing up as our Donegal GAA heroes and here are some pictures…


McGuinness and Murphy Rally the troops at The Glen Outdoor School in Glenswilly


Children at the Glen Outdoor School in Glenswilly adopt a blanket defense against Kerry


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Ireland’s First Outdoor School

As Ireland’s first outdoor school, we’re delighted to see so many other creches following our lead and developing their own outdoor facilities for children. Kids need to be active and leading experts recommend they get at least three hours active outdoor play every day.


According to this article in Early Childhood Ireland evidence of a long-term and dramatic decline in children’s relationship with the outdoors is ‘overwhelming’ and urgent action is needed to bridge this growing gap before it’s too late.


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Now that we’re up and running with our blog, we wanted to share a piece  that Sheila Wayman wrote about our school  in November 2012 in this Irish Times Article

First published:Tue, Nov 27, 2012, 00:00