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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


*pedagogy, Family studies


This doctoral research addressed the dearth of research focussed on childminding in Ireland, despite its significant role in national childcare provision. One overarching aim was to explore childminders’ pedagogy. The research was conducted within the theoretical framework of Ecocultural Theory (ECT) against the backdrop of Irish Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) policy on the eve of mandatory regulation of childminding. A mixed method approach was adopted, using the Ecocultural Family Interview for Childminders (EFICh) , including participants’ photographs, a case study survey, researcher field notes and holistic ratings. (Tonyan, Holli A. 2017. “Opportunities to Practice What Is Locally Valued: An Ecocultural Perspective on Quality in Family Child Care.” Early Education and Development 28: 727–744. doi:10.1080/10409289.2017.1303304). The research documents a previously unidentified cultural model of pedagogy among childminders, Real Life Learning, in which the primary goal is to explore learning opportunities presented by real life experiences as they arise. The childminder prioritises flexible, child-led, relationship-driven nurture and learning emerging from everyday experiences in enriched home and outdoor environments as well as within the local community. To engage Irish childminders into the future sustainably, any proposed system of regulation and supports should be aligned with this Real Life Learning model.



Irish Research Council