Starting School 2017-08-04T18:38:09+00:00

Starting School With Your Child

Dear Parents/Guardians and New Pupil,

Céad Míle Fáilte go dtí Scoil Mhaoilíosa, Cnoc an Bhile. Welcome to Scoil Mhaoilíosa.  This is a significant day not only in the life of your child but in your lives also.  It marks the beginning of what we hope will be a very happy, rewarding and fruitful relationship between your family and your child’s Primary School.

It is a significant day for us also.  We are bidding farewell to a number of families whose youngest child has now graduated from the school. Those families have been an integral part of school life for a long period and will be sorely missed. However we feel confident that you, the parents of incoming children will be equally involved and committed to enhancing the school for the benefit of all the pupils.  We warmly welcome parental involvement and support and our Parent’s Association, Cairdeas will be in contact with you in September to invite you to become involved.  The recent report by the Department of Education and Science on our school noted: “the efforts made to build an effective partnership between the school, parents and the community are particularly praiseworthy”.  We hope that together we will keep this partnership and spirit alive in the school for many years to come.

The School Prospectus contains important information regarding the school and is available HERE.  Also refer to our Policies and Guidelines and New Pupils web pages for more information and documentation.  Good communication with parents is particularly important to us.  We have a number of channels through which we communicate.  Short and urgent general messages are relayed by a text system.  One mobile phone number is requested on the Enrolment Form for this service.  One parent’s number will suffice.  If there is any change in this number please inform us immediately.  The website is updated regularly and contains all up to date information.  The child’s homework journal is an important channel of communication between the class teacher and parents so check on a daily basis.  Communication is a two way channel and it is important that you keep us informed of any events/situations which may affect your child at school.  Through good partnership and communication we will try to ensure that your child will grow and prosper while a pupil of Scoil Mhaoilíosa.

Starting School

Starting School will be the first big change in the life of your child.  Up to this he/she has felt safe and secure with you in the home and family but now your child is facing the wider world of classroom and school.  This may seem a big step for someone so small, but most children manage it without any great fuss or stress – and in fact view it as an exciting event in their lives.

However, it is also a time when parents and teachers should take special care to ensure that the transition from home to school is as smooth as possible.  If the child’s first experience of school is one of happy involvement, a very good foundation will have been laid for fruitful school years ahead.

It is important too, particularly during the first year, that parents understand what the aims of the school are, as many may be expecting too much in the way of academic achievement.

We know from experience that parents are very anxious to help in any way possible.  We have, therefore, included some ideas for the home which should stimulate the child’s interest and nurture his/her desire to know more.

We trust you will find it helpful and that your child will be happy and fulfilled with us.

Getting Ready for Learning

Children are natural learners.  They have an inbuilt curiosity and an eagerness to know more about everything – about themselves, about others and about the world around them.  And they learn fast – but only when they are ready and their interest is aroused.

Because they come to us so young we must guard against putting pressure on them to learn what they are not yet ready for.  Demanding too much too soon can switch a child off completely.  At the same time we must cultivate readiness so that they can get moving as soon as possible.

The rates of progress of children can vary greatly.  We try to give them an opportunity to move ahead at their own pace or as near to it as possible.  Our first year in school, therefore, is mainly about settling in, relating to others, making friends, feeling happy and gradually getting used to the routine of the school.

On the learning side the emphasis is on getting children ready for learning by:

  • Developing their oral language and expression
  • Sharpening their senses, especially seeing, hearing and touching
  • Physical co-ordination especially of hand and fingers.their concentration span and getting them to listen attentively through play – the most enjoyable and effective way.
  • Co-operating with the teacher and other children.tasks by themselves.
  • Working with others and sharing with them.each child to accept the general order, which is necessary for the class to work well.

Before Your Child Starts

You should ensure that your child is as independent as possible – physically, emotionally and socially.  If he/she can look after himself in these areas he/she will feel secure and confident and settle in readily.

It would help greatly if your child is able to:

  • Button and unbutton his/her coat and hang it up.
  • Use the toilet without help and manage pants buttons
  • Personal hygiene and cleanliness – your child should know to flush the toilet and wash his/her hands without having to be told
  • Use a hanky when necessary
  • Share toys and playthings with others and “take turns”
  • Tidy up and put away playthings.
  • Play contentedly for a few hours in the home of a trusted relation, friend or neighbour.  If s/he had this experience, then separation from his parents when s/he starts school will not cause him/her any great anxiety.

Preparing for the ‘Big Day’

The child’s first day at school is a day to remember for the rest of his life.  You can help to make it a really happy one for him/her.

Tell him/her about school beforehand, casually, and talk about it as a happy place where there will be a big welcome for him/her and he/she will meet new friends.

Don’t use school or the teacher as a threat.  “If you behave like that for teacher she’ll murder you” though said light-heartedly can make some children very apprehensive.  Each year in June new Junior Infant pupils accompanied by Parents/Guardians are invited to visit the Junior Classroom for an hour.  This affords the child the opportunity to become familiar with the classroom and classmates.  The parents have the opportunity to talk to the teacher re school books, uniforms and routine.

School Books

Most of your child’s books will be taken from him/her on the first day of school and the teacher will hold on to them until such time as they are needed.  This minimizes books getting lost. Please have your child warned of this fact; in case he/she thinks they will never see the books again.  All books/copies must be marked with your child’s name on the outside cover.

Weight of School Bags

Heavy school bags place unnecessary strain on growing children’s back.

It would help greatly if:

  • Children only brought the necessary items to and from school.
  • Using schoolbag with straps:  encourage your child to wear both straps rather than have a single shoulder take all the weight.
  • Your child could use a trolley-type bag.

In the Junior Classes the teacher gives the child the books they need for their homework each day.  Teachers will remind pupils from time to time about the potential health hazards posed by overweight school bags, and parents are requested to keep constant watch for same!

Packed Lunch

Scoil Mhaoílíosa is a Health Promoting School under the aegis of the Health Service Executive.  Children need to bring a packed lunch each day.  The most effective way to plan a healthy lunch is to include one food from each of the food groups – one piece of fruit, milk/yoghurt, bread or bread alternative, meat/poultry/cheese.

The following guide is designed to help you provide quick, appetizing, and nutritious lunches for your children:

  • Bread & Alternative Savories
  • Bread or rolls, preferably wholemeal
  • Lean meat
  • Rice – wholegrain
  • Chicken/Turkey
  • Pasta – wholegrain
  • Tinned Fish e.g. tuna/sardines
  • Potato Salad
  • Cheese, including Edam, Blarney
  • Wholemeal Scone
  • Popcorn Quiche
  • Pizza

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Apple, banana, peach, plum, pineapple cubes, mandarins, orange segments, grapes fruit salad, dried fruit, tomato,
  • cucumber, sweetcorn, coleslaw celery.

Drinks

  • Milk
  • Fruit juices
  • High juice squashes, i.e. low sugar content
  • Homemade soup

To encourage healthy food choices we promote the following:

  • Milky Monday: include an item from milk/dairy source
  • Healthy Wednesday: omit sweets, crisps, and fizzy drinks
  • Fruity Friday: try to have an item of either fruit or vegetable for lunch

Chewing Gum is not allowed in the school grounds!

Going Home

Be sure to collect him/her on time. Children can become very upset if they feel they are forgotten.  If at any time the collecting routine has to be changed, ensure you tell the child and the teacher.

Handling the Upset Child

In spite of the best efforts of both teacher and parents a small number of children will still become upset.  If your child happens to be one of them don’t panic.  Patience and perseverance can work wonders.

A Word of Advice

Trust the teacher. He/she is experienced and resourceful and is used to coping with all kinds of starting-off problems.

Try not to show any outward signs of your own distress.  Sometimes the parents are more upset than the child and are the main cause of the child’s anxiety.  School begins at 9.20 a.m.  It is important that the children develop the habit of being punctual for school.  Children who are in the yard prior to official assembly time are not the responsibility of any member of staff; but if children are in the yard prior to 9.20 a.m., they are expected to go to the shelter until a teacher arrives.  Children are not allowed to enter the school building prior to 9.20 a.m. except on wet days when they may go to allocated waiting areas inside when a teacher arrives.

There is a 10 minute break at 11.00 a.m.  Lunch break is from 12.30 p.m. to 1.00 p.m.

Children need plenty of rest after the effort and excitement of a day at school.  You should ensure that he/she gets to bed early and has a good night’s sleep. Once he/she has settled in and, hopefully, looks upon school as a “home from home” do continue to show interest in his daily adventures.  Give your child an ear if he/she wants to tell you things, but don’t pester him/her with questions.  He/she is not going to be a model of perfection all the time!  You should try to have patience with his/her shortcomings and praise for his/her achievements.

Important Areas of Learning

Developing his/her Command of Spoken Language

It is important that the child’s ability to talk is as advanced as possible.  It is through speech that he/she communicates his/her thoughts and feelings, his/her needs and desires, curiosity and wonder.  If he/she cannot express these in words he/she will tend to remain silent and will often withdraw from the learning activity of the class.  This can be the first sign of failure in the school system and must be remedied, if at all possible.  That is why a lot of attention is given to language development in the first years of school.

You Can Help

Talk to your child naturally and casually about things of interest that you or he/she may be doing-at home, in the shop, in the car, etc.  Remember that all the time he/she is absorbing the language they hear about them.  It takes him/her a while to make it his/her own and to use it for his own needs. Make time to listen when he/she wants to tell you something that is important to him/her.  But don’t always make him/her the centre of attention.  His/her genuine questions with patience and in an adequate way.  Always nurture his/her sense of curiosity and wonder.  Coach him/her gently to the ideas of

  • Why
  • How
  • When
  • Where
  • If, etc.

These demand more advanced language structures.  He/she will have his/her own particular favourite stories that he/she never tires of hearing.  Repeat them over and over again and gradually get him/her to tell them to you.

First Steps in Reading

Ability to read is the foundation for all future progress in our school system.  However, learning to read is a gradual process and a lot of preparatory work must be done before a child is introduced to his/her first reader.

We very deliberately do not rush or push children into reading.  We get them ready for it over an extended period.  Reading is something to be enjoyed.  It should never start as a chore for the small child.

You can Help

Have attractive colourful books in the home.  Read to him/her a variety of stories from time to time.  He/she will get to associate these wonderful tales with books and reading.  You must convey to him/her gradually that books are precious things.  They must be minded and handled carefully and put away safely.  Look at the pictures with him/her and talk to him/her about what they see.  Teach him/her nursery rhymes.  He/she will learn them off his/her own bat.  Don’t try to push him/her with his early reading.  You may turn him/her against it for evermore.

Understanding Maths

First a Word of Warning

Maths for the small child has nothing to do with “sums” or figures or tables or adding and subtracting.  These will all come much later.  Maths is really part of the language he/she uses in understanding and talking about certain things in his daily experience e.g.

He/she associates certain numbers with particular things

  • two hands,
  • four wheels,
  • five fingers, etc.

Counting

  • one,
  • two,
  • three,
  • four, etc.

Colours

  • black,
  • white,
  • red,
  • green, etc.

Prepositions (telling position) and their opposites:

  • over/under,
  • before/after,
  • inside/outside, etc.

Matching/Sorting – objects of the same

  • size
  • colour
  • texture
  • shape, etc.

Odd One Out – difference in

  • size,
  • colour,
  • shape,etc.

Understanding of these concepts comes very quickly for some children.  For others it takes a long time.  Be patient.  You cannot force Maths understanding on a child.

You Can Help

In the course of your ordinary daily routine in the home, in the shop, in the neighbourhood you should use suitable opportunities to casually introduce the maths vocabulary referred to above, e.g.

  • The glass is full/empty
  • We turn left at the lights
  • Time for bed
  • Have we enough cups?
  • This is the road to Bandon.

Your child gets to understand maths best by handling and investigating and using real objects.  This has been his natural method of learning since he/she was a baby.  This at times can be a nuisance but if it allows him/her to do the learning himself/herself, the final result is well worth it.

Gaeilge

All children enjoy learning another language besides their own language.  They have no difficulty in picking it up because it fascinates them as another code of communication.

They are free of any hang-ups about Irish unless they become aware that the home attitude towards it is not good.  So please be careful that anything you say does not give a negative attitude to your child.

We would want his parents to give every encouragement and help to the small ones in their efforts to acquire Irish.  If they learn new words in school encourage them to use them at home.  Use little Irish phrases or words now and again.  Children are delighted to find out that their parents are into their new code as well.  If they must learn Irish, let them enjoy it and master it to the best of their ability.

Getting Ready for Writing

Making letters on paper is not easy for the small child.  He/she must learn to hold the pencil properly and make regular shapes.  His hand and finger muscles are only gradually developing at this stage.

You Can Help

He/she must develop the ability to get the hand and eye working together.  This is very important.  Get him/her manipulating toys like:

  • Jigsaws, Lego, Beads to thread, etc.
  • Plasticine (Marla) to make his own shapes
  • A colouring book/sheets of paper and thick crayons – make sure that he/she holds it correctly at the start. It will be difficult to change him/her later.

Do not discourage left-handedness.  If that is his/her definite natural inclination, don’t attempt to change him/her.

Other Areas of the Curriculum

The child in juniors learns a lot through many other activities, which do not need any elaboration here.  His/her general development is enhanced through Art & Craft, P.E., Music, Nature and of course through Religious Education.  In regard to the last area its moral and social aspects are covered right through the school day e.g. kindness to others, sharing with them, saying we are sorry, being aware of God through the beauty of nature etc.

Social skills are very important.  We encourage good manners at all times, please/thank you, addressing teachers properly, being courteous to fellow students and teachers.  It is unrealistic to expect all children to like each other all the time.  However, they must treat each other with courtesy and respect.

Bit by bit the child will get used to the general discipline of the classroom.  He/she will get to understand that in certain important matters an instruction from the teacher must be obeyed promptly and without question.

Teacher and Parent

At the early stages some parents meet the teacher almost daily and this is a very desirable thing.  However, if there is something in particular that you would like to discuss you can arrange to meet her at a time when you both can have a little peace and quiet.  Do not wait for a formal Parent/Teacher meeting.  “A stitch in time saves nine!”  Please phone or send a note to the teacher, indicating what you wish to discuss, and a mutually convenient time can be arranged.  A formal Parent/Teacher meeting is held once a year.  We want Scoil Mhaoílíosa to be a HAPPY school, we believe that children will thrive and blossom in a happy atmosphere.
There will, naturally, be days when things aren’t all sunshine for your child – something at home or at school may have upset him/her, or he/she might have misbehaved in some way him herself and was corrected.

Principles of Discipline Policy

If the school is to achieve a happy, secure environment in which children can develop to their full potential, it is necessary to provide a framework which promotes constructive behaviour and discourages unacceptable behaviour.  Pupils need to accept the general order, which is necessary for the class to work well.  Good friends will have “fall-outs”/arguments on occasions.  Parents need to understand that your child may not always tell you the full story.  Your first reaction may be that you must believe your own child, but remember, there are two sides to every story!  The teacher is “in loco parentis” for all the children so both children and parents need to understand that the teacher will be impartial.

With pupils, teachers, parents, staff and the Board of Management working in harmony we can have a happy, enriching and fulfilling time.

“Ní neart go cur le cheile”