Some Important Areas of Early 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 s/he communicates his/her thoughts and feelings, his/her needs and desires, curiosity and wonder.  If s/he cannot express these words s/he 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 s/he may be doing – at home, in the shop, in the car etc. Remember that all the time s/he 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 s/he 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 ideas of Why? How? When? Where? If? etc. These demand more advanced language structures.
  • S/He will have his/her own particular favourite stories that s/he never tires of hearing. Repeat them over and over again and gradually get him/her to tell them to you.


Ability to read is the foundation for all future progress in our schoolsystem.  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.S/he 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 say.
  • Read him/her nursery rhymes. Don’t try to push him/her.
  • Children are introduced to the alphabet and letter sounds through songs and games, you can help by asking your child the letter names and songs as we cover them in school.
  • Remember that the teacher is the best judge of what rate of progress is best suited to each child.
  • When your child starts to bring home reading sheets and library books it is of vital importance that you read these with your child through a process of shared reading and sign the relevant library sheet.Children acquire a firm foundation of reading skills in the Infant Classes.


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 s/he uses in understanding about certain things in his/her daily experience, e.g.


  • S/he associates certain numbers with particular things – 2 hands, 4 wheels, five fingers, etc.
  • Counting – 1,2,3,4, 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 other 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 s/he was a baby.  This at times can be a nuisance but if it allows him/her to do the learning him/herself the final result is well worth it.


All children enjoy learning another language besides their own language. They have no difficulty 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 the 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. On our corridor, weekly you will see a different ‘Frása Na Seachtaine’ – i.e. Phrase of the Week, displayed, which you might like to practice at home informally, with your child.


Making letters on paper is not easy for the small child. S/he 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…..

  • S/He must develop the ability to get the hand and eye working together. This is very important. Get him/her manipulating toys like;
    1. Jigsaws, Lego, Beads to Thread, etc.
    2. Plasticine (Márla) to make his/her own shapes.
    3. A colouring book and thick crayons.
    4. Sheets of paper that s/he can cut up with a safe scissors.


  • When s/he begins to use a pencil make sure that s/he holds it correctly at the start. It will be difficult to change him/her later.

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


The child in Junior Infants 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, S.E.S.E & S.P.H.E 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.

The children learn their prayers and bible stories gradually.  Again, as in the other areas we referred to already, the child will benefit from practising at home what he 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, please/thank you, addressing teachers properly, being courteous to fellow students and teachers. It is important also to encourage mixing rather than being dependent on one friend only.  Rough behaviour is totally discouraged in the playground.