Information Booklet

 

 

 

 Dear Parents,

 

Thank you for enrolling your child in our school. We hope that he / she will be happy here with us.

Please find attached a copy of our Information Booklet. I would ask you to read the contents carefully as your co-operation and support are essential for the smooth running of our school.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if your child is experiencing any problems. Our Secretary, Pearl, can arrange for you to meet with the Class-Teacher to discuss any concerns which you might have. I can be contacted at the Office from 8:30a.m. each day. I should be grateful if you would let me know if your child requires extra resources or supports to assist him / her in settling into school.

I look forward to meeting with you at the various school functions in the months and years ahead.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

    Fintan Keating

    Principal

 

 

Our Contact DetailsScoil Mhuire, Stranorlar , Co. Donegal

Tel. / Fax (074) 9131877

e-mail : stmaryns@eircom.net

Web: www.stmarysstranorlar.com

 

                  Fáilte romhat agus fáilte roimh do pháiste

 

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 he/she 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 take to it like ducks to water.

 

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 desire to know more.

 

With these aims in mind we have put together this little booklet as a general guide for parents.  It deals briefly with a period before your child comes to school and his/her introductory stage in Junior Infants.

 

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.
  • Developing physical co-ordination especially of hand and fingers.
  • Extending their concentration span and getting them to listen attentively.
  • Learning through play – the most enjoyable and effective way.
  • Co-operating with the teacher and other children.
  • Performing tasks by themselves.
  • Working with others and sharing with them.
  • Getting each child to accept the general order, which is necessary for the class to work well.

 

Before your child starts:

 

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

 

It would help greatly if he/she is able to:

 

  • Button and unbutton his/her coat and hang it up.
  • Use the toilet without help and manage pants buttons.
  • Also encourage personal hygiene and cleanliness.  Your child should know to flush the toilet and wash his/her hands, without having to be told.
  • Use his/her hanky when necessary.
  • Share toys and playthings with others and “take turns.”
  • Tidy up and put away his/her playthings.
  • Remain contentedly for a few hours in the home of a relation, friend or neighbour.  If he/she had this experience, then separation from his/her parents when he/she 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 /her 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. Things which are said in jest can often frighten children.
  • If you feel it would help, you could take him/her for a stroll to the junior classrooms and play area on an afternoon during June when the other children have gone home.  He/she can browse around and become familiar with his/her new environment.  On arrival you could drop in to meet the Principal with him/her and perhaps he/she could meet his/her teacher, as well.
  • He/she will like to have his/her new uniform and his/her new bag when he/she begins.  These help him/her identify more readily with the school and other children.
  • Your child’s books will be taken from him/her, the first day of school and the teacher will hold on to them until such time as they are needed.  This minimises 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 and readers must be covered.  Your child will only feel important if he/she has something in his/her school bag, so perhaps you could buy a copy or colouring book for him/her, which he/she could use at home.

 

The Big Day

 

Coming in…

When you arrive at the classroom, be as casual as you can.  He/she will meet the teacher and the other children and the other children and will be shown his/her chair.

Hopefully he/she will be absorbed in his/her new surroundings.  So having assured him/her you will be back to collect him/her, wish him/her good bye and make your getaway without delay.

 

Packed Lunches

Lunch is an important meal for school going children.  It should provide one third of their recommended daily allowance of nutrients without being high in fat, sugar or salt.  It should also provide dietary fibre (roughage).  The traditional packed lunch of milk and sandwiches is under attack from a range of convenience foods like crisps, sweets, biscuits, chocolate and soft drinks.  Parents and teachers are concerned about this trend but some find it difficult to come up with popular healthy alternatives.  We will ask you to encourage a healthy lunch right from the start.  Also, please, only give your child something you feel he/she can easily manage to eat.  Children are not normally very hungry at school, so a little snack will do.

 

Start with the Basics

A healthy packed lunch should contain bread or an alternative, a savoury filling which provides protein, a suitable drink e.g. water or fruit juice, and some fruit and/or vegetables.

 

Going Home

  • Be sure to collect him/her on time.  Children can become very upset if they feel they are forgotten.
  • Keep out of view until the children are released.
  • 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.  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 his/her anxiety.
  • When you have reassured him/her, leave as fast as possible.  The teacher can distract and humour him/her more easily when you are not around.
  • Check back discreetly in a short while.  You will invariably find that calm has been restored.
  • You must be firm from the start.  Even if a child is upset you must insist that he/she stay for a short time, even ten minutes.  He/she must never feel that he/she is winning the psychological battle of wills.

 

As time goes on…

 

  • The doors open each morning at 9:15a.m. School begins at 9.20a.m.  To ease the child into the school routine we have a policy where Junior Infants go home for the first week at 12.30p.m. (So no lunch).  After that they go home at 2.00p.m.  Please make sure that your child is collected at 2.00p.m. as the teacher needs that hour between 2.00p.m. and 3.00p.m. to clean up after the day.  Get him/her into the habit of being in good time for school from the beginning.  Mid-morning break: 10.55a.m. to 11.05a.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.
  • When he/she has settled in and hopefully, looks upon school as a “home from home” do continue to show interest in his/her daily adventures.  Give him/her an ear if he/she wants to tell you things, but don’t pester him/her with questions.
  • Mind that you take some of his/her “stories” with a pinch of salt.
  • If his/her progress is slow do not compare him/her adversely with other children while he/she is listening.  Loss of self-esteem can be very damaging to him/her.
  • Be careful too about criticising his/her teacher in his/her presence.  Remember that she is his/her mother figure while he/she is at school and for his/her own well being it is important that he/she has a good positive image of her.
  • This last caution applies to his/her image of the school as well.  His/her school is always “the greatest” – whatever its faults.
  • He/she is not going to be a model of perfection all the time-thankfully.  You should try to have patience with his/her shortcomings and praise for his/her achievements.
  • Children often “forget” or relay messages incorrectly, so please, check your child’s bag each night for notes.
  • You have received a book list outlining the books and other bits and pieces your child will need for the year.  We would appreciate if the School Fees were paid fairly promptly. A payment plan option is also available. As the year goes on, there may be other demands on the purse strings, but they are optional.  These include:

-School Photographs

-Shows

-Some Fund Raising Events

 

Some Important Areas of Early Learning

 

Developing his 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/her own needs.
  • Try to 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.
  • Answer his/her genuine questions with patience and in an adequate way.  Always nurture his/her sense of curiosity and wonder.
  • Introduce him/her gently to the ideas of why? How? When? Where? If? Etc.  These demands 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 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 /her and talk to him/her about what they say.
  • Read him/her nursery rhymes.  He/she will learn them off his/her own bat.  Don’t try to push him/her.
  • Above all, don’t push him/her with his/her early reading.  You may turn him/her against it for evermore.
  • Remember that the teacher is the best judge of what rate of progress is best suited to each child.
  • Sing the alphabet song with your child, so that he/she at least heard of the letters. If he/she knows what each one looks like, all the better.

 

Understanding Maths
First a Word of Caution

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/her 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 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.

 

But 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. How many cakes? The glass is full/empty. We turn left at the lights.
  • The child gets to understand Maths best by handling and investigating and using real objects.  This has been his/her natural method of learning since he/she was a baby.

 

Gaeilge

All children enjoy learning a language other than their own. They have no difficulty in picking it up because it fascinates them as another code of communication. We would want parents to give every encouragement and help to the smaller children in their efforts to acquire Irish. If they learn new words in school encourage them to use those words at home. Use little Irish phrases or words now and again. Children are delighted to discover that their parents are in to the 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 / Her hand and finger muscles are only gradually developing at this stage. 

 

 

You Can Help

  • Your Child must develop the ability to get the hand and the eye working together. This is very important. Get him / her manipulating toys like :
  1. Jigsaws , Lego, Beads to thread etc.
  2. Pleistocene (Marla) to make his own shapes.
  3. A colouring book and thick crayons.
  4. Sheets of paper that he / she can cut up with a safe scissors.
  • When he / she begins to use a pencil make sure that he / she holds it correctly at the start. It will be difficult to change him / her later.
  • Your child may be making block letters at home before coming to school. This is fine but when he / she starts making lower case letters at school you should try to get him / her to discontinue the blocks and practise the new system whenever he / she feels like it. Consult the teacher about this.
  • Don’t discourage left-handedness. If that is his / her definite natural inclination, don’t attempt to change him / her.

 

 

 

 

Other Curricular Areas

 The child in the Junior Classes learns a lot through many other activities which do not need elaboration here. The general development of each child is enhanced through Art & Craft , P.E., Music, Nature and Religious Education. Moral and Social Aspects are covered right through the school day e.g. kindness to others, saying we are sorry, being aware of God through the beauty of nature etc. The children learn their prayers and Bible Stories gradually. Again, as in other areas we have referred to, the child will benefit from practising at home what he / she has learned at school. He can then make his own contribution to the usual family prayers.

Social Skills are very important. We encourage good manners at all times….. saying Please / Thank You , Addressing Teachers Properly / being courteous to fellow students and teachers. It is important to ask your child whom he played with at school and to ensure that he isn’t alone. You are asked to encourage mixing rather than being dependent on one friend only. Rough play is totally discouraged in the playground. You will find a copy of the Code of Behaviour in this booklet.

 

 

 

Your child will gradually get used to the general discipline of the classroom. He / She will get to understand very quickly that in certain important matters an instruction from the teacher must be obeyed promptly and without question.

 

In the early stages some parents meet the teacher regularly and this is totally acceptable and welcome. However ,if there is something in particular that you would like to discuss you can arrange to meet him / her at a time when you both can have a little peace and quiet.

 

There are many ideas and suggestions in this little Information Booklet as to how you can help your child. We are not advocating that you do ALL of these with him / her in a systematic way. However, if you find from time to time that he / she enjoys a fun approach to certain aspects of learning then we would say – give it a go – but don’t overdo it. We are offering this Guide to Parents as a little practical help in dealing with the education of their children at the very early stages. We will be happy if you read through this from time to time and find something in it of value to both you and your child.

 

                             General Information

 

The school will open to receive pupils at 9:20a.m.. No responsibility is accepted for pupils arriving before this time. No pupil should arrive later than 9:30a.m.. Classes end at 2p.m. for Junior and Senior Infants, and at 3p.m. for all other pupils.

In the event of the school closing unexpectedly e.g. no heating / inclement weather , an announcement will be made on local radio and parents will be notified through the texting service.

Let the teacher know how your child is going home i.e. by bus or car. Please make sure that your child is collected on time to avoid panic.

A small snack is allowed at the morning break. No yoghurts, fizzy drinks, chewing gum or crisps are allowed in or around the school, as they are sticky, messy and unsuitable for school snacks. The school is involved in a healthy eating programme and we encourage nutritious lunches. We are also involved in recycling programme.

 

 

Our School Uniform is available in Mc Elhinney’s Store.It is expected that all pupils will wear the specified School Uniform at all times, with the exception of P.E. Days when a navy tracksuit should be worn with runners.  (A note is required if for some reason a child is not wearing the full uniform on a particular day).

 

Please check your child’s hair weekly to avoid outbreaks of head-lice.

 

Mobile phones are not permitted in school.

 

N.B. !!! The school has no responsibility for children arriving before starting time , going home at lunch time or remaining in the school grounds after hours.