General Information & Communication
Encouraging Positive Behaviour
Our focus in Juniors is on rewarding positive behaviour. We follow the Incredible Years Programme. Each class teacher uses a positive incentive system eg. Happy Grams, Class Dojo, behaviour charts, stickers and rewards. Principal’s awards are handed out each month to children who have worked hard and tried their best.
Homework usually begins after the Halloween break. Homework in junior infants should 15 to 20 minutes’ maximum. Children typically will get on small piece of written homework (phonics or maths). They can also practice sounds, blending and our rhymes. Later in the year we send home sight words. These are words which need to be learned and cannot be sounded out.
Your child will receive a library book each week. This is a shared reading experience with your child. In the beginning, you can read the book to your child and as the year progresses, your child will move towards independent reading.
Much of the focus of the infant curriculum is on developing good oral language skills. Every lesson is a language lesson! A very important part of this development is Aistear time, which is explained in more detail below. Nursery rhymes, songs and poems help develop oral language skills. Early reading development is supported through the use of the Jolly Phonics programme and phonological awareness skills. From an early stage, letters sounds are explored in context and used to both form and decode words. As the emerging literacy skills strengthen, we use a variety of reading books during Guided Reading to develop early reading skills. A range of gross motor and fine-motor activities are used to develop hand strength and pencil grip. Children are exposed to a wide range of books, and they begin to practice comprehension strategies such as predicting, connecting to previous experiences and visualising as the teachers read a variety of texts aloud to the children.
The infant maths curriculum helps develop higher-order thinking skills through a variety of hands-on activities related to sorting, matching and pattern-building. In addition, numbers are introduced, using activities to practise counting, forming number bonds and writing numerals. Shape is explored, and concepts such as capacity, weight and money are introduced through hands-on practical exploration. We use numicon to teach number skills as part of our station activities.
You will regularly find us on maths trails around our school, looking for shapes, finding numbers and playing outdoor maths games. We even take an annual trip to Coote’s shop to spend some money on treats!
Irish is taught each day and the language is central in the school. The scheme Bua Na Cainte is followed to teach Irish. Children play language games and sing many songs in Irish. Children learn and use many helpful phrases throughout the day. Children and teachers speak Irish naturally during the school day outside of the formal Irish lessons.
History, Geography & Science
These subjects are explored using a thematic approach. Some of the themes explored include autumn, Halloween, dinosaurs, the doctors, dentist, post office, the gardaí and fairy tales. We have an amazing school garden and locality that we use as our outdoor classroom. We also invite people from our community to talk to the children about their jobs. We even get a ride in a squad car and get to wear a garda uniform!
Visual Arts, Music & Drama
The creative arts are integrated throughout the curriculum and often tied to the themes the classes are currently exploring. The emphasis is on the process rather than the product in all cases. A variety of media are used to develop visual art techniques. Singing is an essential part of the music curriculum. We also use instruments of all kinds to explore rhythm and compose. In addition, listening to a variety of music is a regular activity. Drama, closely linked with oral language and literacy development, is intertwined throughout the day. It is a regular feature of Aistear time each day through imaginative play.
Children develop gross motor skills through a variety of activities including dance, ball skills, playground games and gymnastics. We have a big focus on developing the children’s fundamental movement skills which is important for our overall development and even helps in developing the child’s fine motor skills for handwriting. We try to do physical exercise every day in addition to our PE lessons. Every Thursday morning, you will find us doing PE circuits- it’s great fun and definitely a highlight of the week.
Social and Personal Health Education
Lessons in this area work to establish healthy habits regarding eating, exercise and hygiene. In addition, children learn about themselves and each other, exploring their interests, families and relationships with their classmates and friends. These themes are integrated throughout the day as well as addressed in discrete lessons.
We follow the Grow in Love religious programme which aims to help children see how they can respond to God’s love through love by showing love for themselves, for each other, for God and for all creation. We celebrate Christian events throughout the year like Christmas, St. Brigid’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. We also participate in school prayer services. We have a special infant welcome service in September.
Aistear is the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. It introduces structured play to meet curriculum objectives from all areas of the Primary Curriculum. Imaginative play is at the heart of the Aistear time where children and teachers interact together using props and costumes to create an environment such as a post office, a doctor’s surgery, a space station, a potions lab, a garda station, or a Santa’s workshop. In addition, children participate in a variety of other structured play in the following categories: games with rules (i.e. board games, Memory, hopscotch), small world (i.e. trains, dolls, cars), creative (i.e. painting, junk art, playdough) and construction (i.e. magna tiles, jigsaws, lego, blocks). Our aistear theme is integrated throughout the day to enhance the children’s language development.
We have no standardised testing for junior infants but we regularly carry out teacher designed assessments and teacher observation. We work closely with our SET teachers to monitor children’s progress.
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