Early Years & Montessori
Position: Early Years lecturer
“Early years education lays the foundation for a child’s life-long learning journey.”
My name is Natasha Murphy, I am a manager in an inner-city, diverse Montessori School with 13 nationalities and I am an Early Years Tutor. This year brought a whole new level of teaching, as everything was moved online – online lectures and also online Live Circle times to stay connected with students, children and families.
I come from a family of early years practitioners, Montessori teachers and secondary school teachers, so I have always had a passion for working with children.
As I was growing up, I realised the importance of early childhood care and education, it is the first insight into learning for a child and that is how I decided to become an early years practitioner. I want to be part of each child’s early learning journey and support them to grow and learn in a fun and meaningful way.
While studying, I gained an interest in transitions. I implemented home visits prior to a child starting in my setting. I arranged an hour-long home visit with each child and their family. This helped me to build a respectful and reciprocal relationship with the child and family, which eased the settling-in process.
I was invited to travel to Sweden to talk about transitions with Early Childhood Ireland in March 2020, but due to COVID-19, it was cancelled. I have spent a summer in Spain teaching children aged 4-15 years old, and I travelled to Pune in India with Portobello Institute to volunteer in a number of orphanages and outreach community centres.
Working as an early years practitioner has allowed me to link theory to practice when giving a lecture. This has been very beneficial to students as they can relate and begin to see how their learning can be linked to their own settings too. As I completed my own studies through blended learning, I can understand how students feel trying to balance, work, home and study life.
Natasha’s Teaching Philosophy
My main goal when delivering a lecture is to share my passion and knowledge of early years with students so they can mirror this and gain a willingness to learn and understand the course modules.
While teaching, I always use real-life examples from my own experiences to support the theory, this creates an opportunity for students to become active in their learning and share their own experiences, thoughts, and idea or simply, ask a question.
A lecture for me is best taught through an interactive approach. I like to hear the students’ voices. This builds a collaborative approach within the class.
I present all information relating to the module by using the spoken and written word, PowerPoint with visual aids to try and accommodate all types of learners. I tutor the Level 6 QQI Early Childhood Care and Education Course and the Special Needs Assisting courses at Level 5 and Level 6.
Graduate attributes I hope to instil in my students are to embrace the learning and find ways to implement this newfound knowledge into their career/early years’ setting, team work, good communication skills, confidence and to have the ability to work independently and in a group.
- BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies
- MA in Early Childhood Studies
Modules Taught by Natasha
- Child Development – Early Childhood Care and Education
Students gain knowledge and understanding of child development theories and learn to apply them in a practical way. Skills of observation, evaluation and reflection are explored and the importance of using information as a basis for planning curricular activities suitable to the child’s interests, needs and level of development.
- Early Childhood Curriculum – Early Childhood Care and Education
Students get the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations as they learn to plan suitable, interesting, fun and stimulating curricula. They gain an understanding that curriculum is more than just planning. Knowledge of Aistear the early years curriculum framework and Síolta, the quality framework for early childhood, alongside current theories of the curriculum is gained.
- Social Legal and Health – Early Childhood Care and Education
The students will study the historical timeline and social policy which has led to early years education what it is today.
Children First 2015 put child protection on a legislative footing therefore all practitioners must have a knowledge of how to protect and safeguard children in their setting, through policy, practice and reporting.
Equality is vital within our diverse society, however, it does not mean treating everyone the same! The student will gain knowledge of the law, guidance, policies, provision and practice which address equality and diversity in settings.
- Personal and Professional Development – Early Childhood Care and Education
This module allows the student to assess their personal and professional strengths and areas for development and plan accordingly. This allows the student to become self-aware, to be more motivated, with the ability to manage their time and procrastinate less. This in turn relieves stress.
Students also learn how to arrange, lead and manage meetings e.g. writing an agenda, meeting etiquette, recording minutes and supporting and following through on decision-making.
The students gain the skills and knowledge to complete a presentation, from topic choice to rationale to presentation with visual aids to self-evaluation. This module provides the student will a tool for planning and improvement personally and professionally.