ready for school
Education

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.

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Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.

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ASK JESSICA

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.