Schoolbag: Your child’s schoolbag (not on wheels) should be large enough to hold workbooks which are A4 size and a small lunch box (not a lunch case). Please ensure that the schoolbag has a zip fastener (not plastic clips/clasps which most children are unable to manage). No pencils or equipment are needed initially in Junior Infants. When required, the pencil case should be soft and zipped.
School books: Please purchase the books on the book list given out in June. Some other requisites will be provided by the teacher and a bill will be issued for these. All books should be covered, and named on the outside of the front cover.
P.E. Runners: On P.E. days, children should wear runners or gym shoes – with non-marks soles – to school.
Art Overalls: An art shirt or apron is to be left in school throughout the year – this can be an old long-sleeved shirt with elasticated cuffs, or a shop-bought art apron. Personalised art aprons are available from Mrs. Mary Furlong (Tel.: 01-2980733 Mon-Fri between 6 and 8p.m. only or email firstname.lastname@example.org – please state child’s name, gender, class teacher’s name and your telephone number when leaving a message).
Please put your child’s name indelibly on all his/her belongings.
The cultivation of a work ethic requires that children need their own equipment and while they are still young they rely on you to ensure they have it. Your diligence in this regard will have a powerful impact on their diligence as they grow older. Gradually, encourage them to take more and more responsibility for their own equipment.
Helpful Pre-school Activities
Working on dexterity and strength first can eliminate the development of an inappropriate pencil grasp, which is becoming more commonplace as young children are engaged in writing experiences before their hands are ready. The following activities involve the use of manipulatives (equipment), which will help to build the strength and dexterity necessary to hold a pencil appropriately.
Fine Motor Activities
- Moulding and rolling play dough into balls – using the palms of the hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
- Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the fingertips.
- Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
- Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or pizza wheel.
- Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls; use them to stuff a pop sock and make a puppet.
- Scrunching up one sheet of newspaper in one hand – this is a super strength builder.
- Using a plant sprayer to spray plants (indoors, outdoors) and to spray patterns and pictures on dry pavement.
- Picking up objects using large tweezers or food tongs such as those found in the “Bedbugs” game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes, small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
- Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space between the palms.
- Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in the Early Learning Centre toolkit.
- Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios, macaroni, etc.
- Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then glueing the balls onto construction paper to form pictures or designs.
- Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to the edge of the table.
- Playing games with the “puppet fingers” – the thumb, index and middle fingers. At circle time, have each child’s puppet fingers tell about what happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.
- Squeeze play dough with grasp and release motions.
- Use scissors to cut rolled up dough into several small pieces.
- Pinch small play dough shapes together.
- Roll into small balls between thumb and first fingers to make “eggs”. Pinch up the edges of a flattened piece to make a bird’s nest for the eggs.
- Clip clothes pegs onto the edge of containers.
- Use clothes pegs to clip clothes onto a paper doll.
- Hang up a rope and hang up play clothes “to dry”.
- Have the child put small animals on a box lid (“in the zoo”) and have him/her clip clothes pegs around the edges to make a fence.
Washing Up Bottle/Squirt Bottle
- Draw designs on the pavement, then erase the chalk using a squirt bottle.
- Erase pictures off the chalkboard using a squirt bottle.
- Squirt toys, etc … to “clean” them.
- Have the child be responsible for misting the plants at home.
- Fill up a small clear container by spraying water into it.
- Hold up a paper target over a sink and have the child hit it with a spray bottle.
- Hold a mirror over the sink so the child can see him/herself and squirt the image in the mirror.
- Have the child help wash windows or mirrors, using a squirt bottle.
- Have the child squirt at a balloon to keep it in the air (use a direct stream).
- Use ice tongs or tweezers to pick up objects such as cotton balls, pompoms, etc … and place in a container.
- Use a paper punch to make designs in construction paper.
- Use hand or finger puppets with songs, plays, etc…
- Pick up and release small objects with thumb and fingers (i.e. pinch beans, rice, paper hole punches to place on glue design).
- Tear paper into small pieces, paste on paper to make a picture.
- Crumple paper into a small ball using one hand.
- Make an “o” by touching the thumb to the fingertips one at a time.
- Play Simon Says game, i.e. ask the child to lay his/her hands on the desk and spread the fingers, then pull together tightly or ask the child to wiggle each finger separately.
- Paper folding, use scrap paper – see who can make the smallest folded piece of paper or fold like a fan or accordion.
- Hand games, finger play and songs i.e. “Itsy Bitsy Spider”.
- Mould tinfoil into balls.
When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child’s hand well, cutting activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to stabilize it, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
Using Two Hands Together
The ability to use two hands together in a cooperative manner is essential for cutting and requires the child to have established his hand preference. These are useful activities for this:
- Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine subscription cards.
- Making a fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
- Cutting play dough with scissors.
- Cutting straws or shredded paper.
Co-ordination Arm, Hand and Eye Movements
In order to be successful in cutting with a scissors, a child requires the ability to co-ordinate the eyes with the finely graded actions of the shoulder, elbows, forearms, wrists and fingers.
When the time comes for homework, here are some tips which should help to develop good habits for the future while it is all very exciting and new. Invest some time into thinking about how you will manage it before it all begins and start how you mean to continue.
Keep to the pattern which works for you in your family but remember you are preparing your children for what will eventually be independent habits and routines, which will have a big impact on how they progress in the long term.
- Establish a routine for homework, earlier rather than later in the day;
- Make sure there is a comfortable, quiet place to do it, not in front of the television;
- Be available for your child without interfering;
- Try putting siblings in separate rooms if they keep distracting each other (you know your children well enough to know whether you would even start by having them together!);
- Check that the homework is done and sign the homework notebook, if asked;
- Talk to your child’s teacher if (s)he is taking a lot more time than you think (s)he should;
- Don’t be negative about homework, ever;
- Don’t give your child the answers;
- Don’t leave homework exclusively to the child minder;
- Don’t do the homework for your child! If (s)he has any difficulties, it is better the teachers know so they can help them.
Mobile Phone Usage Tips
Tips for parents on children’s use of mobile phones is available from the Irish Cellular Industry Association.
Checklist of Suggestions
Don’t underestimate the value of routine to young people; it fosters security, confidence and self-esteem. Secure, confident children with lots of self-esteem have a great chance of achieving their full potential.
- Come on time in the morning, every morning.
- Collect your child on time, every day.
- Do homework at the same time, every day.
- Early to bed will mean your child will be able to concentrate in school next day.
- Don’t break the routine of early nights at weekends as this affects Mondays when teachers cover new work which often requires much concentration. Holidays are different.
- Read to your child every day.
- Once your child can read, continue to read to her/him but also allow for some private reading time for her/him every day, perhaps at bedtime.
- Make sure your child knows where you are when s/he is in school, every day.
- Tell your child who is collecting her/him.
- Tell your child’s teacher who will be collecting her/him and always let us know of a change in this arrangement.
- Make sure s/he has a nutritious lunch, every day, in a box s/he can manage to open (no lunch cases, please!). Drink in a beaker with sports pull top! No crisps, popcorn, please!
- Make sure s/he has all her equipment, every day (see below).
- Please put name tapes on your child’s coat, or any item of clothing that might be removed, so we can return lost property.
- Expect your child to take increasing responsibility for her/his equipment. Start by letting her/him carry her/his own schoolbag, lunch box, and any other belongings s/he brings to school.
- If you have a concern, always bring it to your child’s teacher in the first instance. We cannot always solve problems, but we can always try to help.
- Be conscious of what you say about your child within her/his hearing: Casual negative remarks can damage self-esteem (e.g. unfavourable comparisons with siblings, relatives or friends; negative assessment of behaviour or ability; wishing out loud that s/he could be more confident; saying out loud that s/he’s always been messy; saying out loud that if only you could get her/him to be different). This all impacts adversely on self-esteem.
- Tell us about events which are likely to have an impact on your child e.g. death in the family, new baby, change of home, one parent going away for extended period.
- Let us know of any health disorders, procedures necessary.
- Absences must be notified to the teacher when the child returns to school unless the absence will be for a protracted period. A child with a temperature or a child who has vomited through the night or early in the morning should not be in school.
- Please let us know if your child has an infectious disease as soon as possible; this applies especially to German Measles, Meningitis, gastric disorders and Chicken Pox.
- Leaving school early for whatever reason is only allowed when a written request is received. In all cases, parent, guardian or other person collecting your child must check in with teacher (on duty) before taking child.
School Routine Info
8.30a.m. Doors open to receive pupils.
8.40a.m. Any parents in classrooms leave, and those arriving after this time must drop their children at the classroom door.
8.50a.m. Classes begin.
1.15p.m. School ends for Junior and Senior Infant Classes and children should be collected. Please wait outside until the classroom doors are opened; children will remain inside until the teacher can identify a parent or minder. Any change in collection arrangements should be notified to teachers in advance.
2.15p.m. School ends for the remainder of the classes, 1st through 6th. Children should be collected promptly from outside their classrooms or the main school doors.
From 2.15p.m. Afterschool activities and sports. Please note that children who are not involved in afterschool activities in the school may not, under any circumstances, wait on the school premises for friends or family members. Also, if you are car-pooling with other parents to sports lessons off-site, please ensure your children know the arrangements in the event of cancellations due to bad weather.
Break Times and What to give Children to Eat
There are two 10-minute eating breaks during the morning. Also, there are three play breaks. Please give your children a small lunch – fruit, a small sandwich and a drink. Chewing gum, crisps and popcorn are not allowed at any time.
Please see healthy eating for further information.