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How to Support Your Child at Home


– If you have knowledge of Irish you can use it in simple ways once or twice a day. For example, going up the stairs with a small child you could say

suas, suas, suas … on every step and

síos, síos, síos … coming down.

When the children are being dressed a rhyme like Lámh, lámh eile a haon a dó, Cos, cos eile could be used.

Using Irish words when asking for something at the table can be helpful.

For example Bainne, arán, tae, más é do thoil é can be followed naturally with Go raibh maith agat.

– Children should be encouraged to sing the Irish songs they learn at school.

The child will respond if you start the first few words. Children love action songs and rhymes, and they usually learn many of these in the infant and junior classes.

– You could encourage your children to watch the cartoons on TG4 on Saturdays and Sundays. It does not matter if the child doesn’t understand the language. It is worth remembering, too, that children can often understand language without being able to use it. Children love cartoons and will get the gist of what is going on from the pictures and the sound effects. Older children might enjoy the quizzes for children, the fun games for adults, and sports programmes.

Using Irish in an enjoyable way

– You can play a game with Irish phrases that can be seen in the
environment. In the city this could take the form of

What do you think Oifig an Phoist means?
What do you think Bruscar means?
What does An Lár mean?
What does Stáisiún mean?
What is Bus Átha Cliath?
What is Bus Éireann?
Where would you see Go minic anseo, go tapaidh ansiúd?

What are the Irish names of some of the streets you know?

How many signs in Irish have you seen today?

– Towns and place names can be used in a similar way. Sráid (a street), Cearnóg (a square), Lough (loch, a lake), Contae (county), Knock (cnoc, a hill), Tully (tulach, a hill), Kill (cill, a small church), Down (dún, a fort or castle)

Helping to make Irish relevant

Although Irish is very visible in schools, the children need the support of their families and the wider community outside school if they are to see it as relevant to ordinary life.

It would help to give Irish meaning as a living language if children can see it used to give and receive messages.

– You could look at your children’s books from school and admire them and ask the children to tell you about them. – You could buy a video in Irish and look at it with your children, or buy books for small children and read them with them.

– If you feel more confident in using Irish you could make a habit of using particular phrases at meal times or at bedtime: Cá bhfuil Máire? Tá an tae réidh! Tá sé a hocht a chlog, leaba anois! Oíche mhaith, codladh sámh!

– If it were possible, the whole family could go to the Gaeltacht in the summer. Various courses and holiday programmes are available, many of which are activity-based and involve children attending language classes in the mornings.



– Play board games with them. These involve counting, putting things in order, taking turns, the notion of before and after, and working out how many more are needed. This will also help their language development.

– Play card games with them that involve matching and recognising numbers. These are some of the most basic mathematical ideas.

The environment

– Encourage them to find and name shapes in the environment. This can keep them amused when you are stopped in traffic in the car or on the bus: How many squares can you see? How many circles are there?

In the home

– Involve your children in weighing ingredients when preparing food, or measuring when you are doing odd jobs around the house. Children love to help by measuring or writing down measurements. They will enjoy the activity and learn mathematics in a real situation.

– If you are organising a party, or any meal, you can include children in working out the amounts that will be needed. How many are at home for tea today? How many sausages will we need if we give everybody three? How many burgers will we need? How many burger buns?

– Create opportunities that allow children to handle money and to work out what can be bought with different amounts, for example

How many pennies are there in ten pence?

What can I buy with 50p, £1.00, £3.00?

How many ways can 14p be made up? 5p+5p+2p+2p 10p+2p+2p.


– Encourage your children to take part in solving problems. You can find good examples in simple puzzle books. You could also get them involved in solving problems directly connected with their own lives. An example of this, suitable for children in senior classes and relating to the elements of shape, space and measure in the curriculum, would be:

How can we make a greeting card? How will we make the card fit into the envelope?

Could we make an envelope?

Songs and rhymes

–Teach your children rhymes and number songs you know yourself, and encourage them to repeat the ones they learn in school.


Talking and listening

– encourage them to talk about their interests and activities, and about what they are reading

Books and reading

– buy books as presents—a library or a good bookshop can provide valuable advice about books suitable for different reading levels

– have plenty of colourful and attractive books in the home and encourage your children to use them and to take good care of them

– read regularly to them

– show interest in what they are reading and praise them

– encourage them to read newspapers and talk to them about what they read

– bring with your children to the local library


– encourage your children to write to pen pals

– encourage them to keep a diary.


Parents can contribute to the social, personal and health development of the child by

– keeping themselves fully informed of the content of the SPHE programme and of the approaches to the teaching of it in school

– being consistently aware of the importance of helping in the development of values and attitudes – encouraging and affirming children in their efforts

– encouraging children to take care of themselves through good hygiene and healthy eating habits – stressing the importance of taking plenty of exercise—walking, cycling, skateboarding, swimming, etc.

– impressing upon children the dangers involved in the misuse of different substances such as alcohol and drugs

– helping them to learn about the changes that take place in their bodies at various stages of development

– stressing the importance of family, how people should get on as a family, and how members of the family should care for each other

– talking to children about the importance of friendship—how necessary friends are, how we should be loyal to friends, how we sometimes fall out, and the valuable lessons that can be learned from making up

– helping children to be involved in taking responsible decisions and in making good choices

– helping children to be aware that they are part of a wider community in which they should play their part.


The seasons, plants and animals
– encourage children to be aware of how changes in the seasons affect plant and animal life, and involve them in work in the garden and with plants and window boxes in the house

– encourage children to be interested in and kind to pets

Talking to older people

– encourage grandparents and older people in the community to talk to your children about the past

Helping in the school

– be willing to help the school if you have relevant expertise

Science and technology

– help children to be aware of how science explains the workings of common features of life in the home, for example a bicycle, a car, the water system, the fridge, a zip, the boiling of water

– involve children in designing and making things around the home, for example a shelf or a bird table

– encourage your children to use the computer (including the internet and e-mail) in ways that will help their learning.

Visiting places

– take your children to visit places that are interesting in terms of history, geography and science, when they are old enough to appreciate and benefit from the experience Books, toys and television programmes

– encourage your children to read books about history, geography and science

– encourage them to play with Meccano, Lego or chemistry sets

– identify suitable television programmes about history, geography and science that they can watch


Musical activities

– sing to your children and clap rhythms, particularly to babies and young children

– sing songs they have learned in school with your children

– listen to music together, encourage them to listen actively, and talk to them about the music

– play with home-made instruments, such as putting dried peas in a tin and shaking it to the rhythm of a piece of music


Artistic experiences

– give children plenty of artistic experiences, such as showing them interesting pictures and bringing them to plays and concerts, including local amateur performances, school performances, outdoor pageants, and parades

– encourage children to express themselves using a range of materials and tools, such as paint, crayons, clay, pens, pencils and fabrics

– draw their attention to interesting features of the environment both in the town and in the country, for example particular features of a building such as an archway or a fanlight above a door


An active lifestyle

– have a positive attitude to physical education and sport

– set children an example by having an active life-style, by taking them for walks, by taking part in sports, and by playing games with them

– take them on outdoor and adventure activities such as camping, swimming, and visits to an adventure playground

– foster your children’s self-esteem by acknowledging their own particular achievements in a variety of physical activities