Interview with: Robin Sheehan, Director of Outdoor Therapeutic Interventions, eQeOUTDOORS
27th June 2016
Following on from the mammoth week that was the launch of Childcare Expo Manchester, we have had the privilege of catching up with one of the many people who helped us to make the event a reality – Robin Sheehan.
Robin hosted a workshop on the Friday that had him crawling on his hands and knees as he focussed on the subject of how to harness the outdoors to boost child development. The audience listened intently as Robin discussed the three crucial development stages – BEING; DOING; THINKING. For a man that spends the majority of his time exploring and wondering the outdoors, you’ll be interested to hear his fears…
This sector is often overlooked when it comes to therapeutic need of individuals – Young children don’t always present obvious issues or behaviours until later – So being able to identify needs early on, and also to give a developmental boost at this young age, means that my job is easier when working with older children therapeutically!
What makes you passionate about your job?
Aw man! You get some days when something just falls into place with an individual, and they say or do something profound that they never would have done before working with you… Progress! On days like that I don’t need paying!
What skills would you say are absolutely necessary for a childcare practitioner?
The full range of emotional intelligence – We need to know ourselves very well, and how to respond to young children. So, Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Self-Motivation, Social Skills and Empathy! Lots of Empathy! But also lots of love for the individual. And finally…even when we don’t feel like it, or if we are struggling, we need to “show up” – To be strong and caring and 100% committed to the children. We need to be the adult they need, always.
In your opinion, what should children learn and discover from their time in early years care?
How to be happy with themselves, and also learning how to interact with others – Learning Social Skills and Empathy. Developing a strong Self Awareness that is based on their good qualities, and how to “do the right thing”.
And just how to have FUN!
Hmmm… It depends. For the childcare worker, there are great online tools now for reporting, assessment, report creation, activities and resources etc. For the children, they need to learn a balance between being a part of this new technological and connected world, while being able to put it down and interact with their peers face to face, without technology. Getting outdoors is a great way to do this.
How do you think settings can be made more appealing to men in the childcare sector?
There is a social stigma attached to childcare and being a man, which needs to be addressed in our culture. Also we have an unfortunate cultural negativity which has grown up around this – It’s somehow acceptable to be an all-woman group of leaders, but not an all-man group? Aside from that hot potato (!) it is more “manly” to get outdoors and be Bear Grylls with children! So… GET OUTDOORS!
If you could make one change in the early years sector, what would it be?
Developmental training for all, and funding to get children outdoors more with ME!
What is the best professional advice you have been given during your career?
Never give up. Never think you are not good enough. Find your own way.
What is your biggest fear?
Not being able to continue working with young people outdoors because I start creaking too much as I get older!
And mountain lions when I’m in the desert! Oh, and spiders! Big spiders. With teeth and everything. Watching me. Waiting until my back is turned. Gives me the willys..!
Which 3 people, famous or otherwise, would you invite to a dinner party?
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Bear Grylls, and Ray Mears!
Bear would try and eat Ray as he’s a bit fatter and a good meal, but Ray would have already made a trap to catch Bear. Ranulph would just be waiting for them both to sort each other out, before then eating them both.
Robin will be returning once again to Childcare Expo Midlands on 30th September – 1st October for another one of his animated workshops as well as a seminar, Children & Nature – How to Get Them Outdoors … that’s if he isn’t attacked by a mountain lion before then!