ready for school

Is your child ready for school or not?

Junior infant teacher, Sinead Jones, offers up some advice to parents in two minds about sending their child to school. So… Is your child ready for school?

All children are different and you as a parent know your child best. Here are a few points for you to consider if you’re still deciding on whether to send your child to school this September or next.

Can your child use the toilet independently?

Often in primary schools the toilets are not in the classrooms, so it is essential your child can use the toilet themselves, flush the toilet and wash their hands.

Can your child share toys/activities/books/crayons?

Children share almost everything in school. Sharing activities help to develop co-operative skills, help with oral language development, and build self-confidence and friendships.

Can your child take turns?

There are 30 pupils in my Junior Infant class so taking turns is part of our daily routine. Children take turns coming up to the board to do examples for the class; they take turns answering questions; they take turns playing with particular toys; and they wait their turn to tell me news. Unfortunately, because of big class numbers, it is important that children can wait, be patient and take turns.

Can your child recognise their name written down?

I don’t expect children to know letter names, sounds or how to write letters before coming to school as it is a big part of the Junior Infant curriculum. However, it is greatly helpful if children recognise their name when it is written down.

Can your child take off/put on their own coat?

Children have to put their coats on for both yard breaks and going home. It is really helpful if children can do this themselves.

ready for school

How to help your child to prepare for school:

If you are happy that your child is ready for school this September, here are a few tips to help them prepare for this very important period in their lives.

  • Allow your child time to become familiar with their school items. Show them how to put their lunch box and drink in their school bag and zip it up.
  • Ensure that they’re able to open and close their lunch box and bottle themselves to prevent spillages in their bags.
  • Discuss school over the summer, talk about the teacher (if you know them and their name) so they get familiar with them before school starts.
  • Talk about school in a positive way (it may sound obvious, but children are so impressionable at this age.) Phrase things positively, e.g. you’re going to make lots of new friends/ your new teacher is really looking forward to meeting you/won’t it be fun playing with all the new toys in the classroom?
  • Teach your child to recognise their name written down. They don’t need to know the letter names or sounds but become familiar with the shapes so that they can identify their books and copies.
  • Junior Infants is full of active learning. Your child will be outside, in the hall and moving around the classroom so comfortable clothes are important. Elasticated waist bands, Velcro runners and layers of clothes are best.

More like this:

First day at school
Brain food
Back to school transition


Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.


Portion control

From the moment a baby is born parents worry if they are getting enough food. Are they drinking the right number of bottles? Are they at the breast long enough? And how on earth can you tell how much milk a breastfed baby took?


Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.