I hope that your families are keeping safe during this extraordinary and unprecedented pandemic that we find ourselves living in. Our safety is being guided by the country’s experts and it is vital that we follow their recommendations strictly. If we each protect ourselves, we are in turn reducing the risk of illness to others. Many of you are part of our nation’s skilled team of front-line personnel that assists the needy and ensures their safety. We admire your selflessness in such challenging times – gardaí, paramedics, nurses, doctors, firefighters, army, carers, meals-on-wheels and the tens of thousands of civilians who have generously responded to the call for volunteers required to help others.
Parent also play a vital role during this extraordinary time. Explaining the emergency situation to your family in an age-appropriate way and keeping them occupied in such an unnaturally restricted environment is a full time job!
Leo Varadkar’s most recent restrictions announced yesterday would indicate that the present situation is likely to be the norm for a considerable time yet. Our Board of Management hasn’t been given any supplementary information as to when schools will be directed to reopen, other than the publically-announced date yesterday of 20/04/20. As this date is still some weeks away, the teachers have been busily working together in the background during the last week or so trawling through resources to devise a longer term “Homework” plan for families.
Because the structured learning that usually takes place in school isn’t available, we all have to do our best to turn the situation to our advantage. Parents are the primary educators of their children and despite the terrible situation we all find ourselves in, it’s also a golden opportunity for families to learn together by doing things together. The older children have to step up and help the younger ones. Children will learn new skills that families normally don’t have the time to do such as cooking, baking, painting, drawing pictures, origami, reading together, singing songs, cutting with scissors, making things out of cardboard, learning rhymes, skipping, cycling and family walks.
New and enjoyable family activities will be invented that you’ll continue to do for years to come long after the present emergency has passed. We never have enough time to look out the window and admire our beautiful world changing by the day – the sun, rain, trees, flowers, insects and birds. We never seem to have enough time to appreciate these things. There are a lot of things we don’t have now but time isn’t one of them – we have it bucketfuls! Strange as it may seem, the present situation is forcing us all to take a break from our usual lives that we spend rushing around. It’s giving us time to take a break, to take stock and examine how we live our lives and rediscover the most valuable gift of all – our family.
There is no need to worry about the children losing out on learning before the schools are instructed to reopen – children learn all the time. They have to learn now in a different way and in a different social learning unit to what they are accustomed – but they are still learning!
Parents have a great opportunity now to bolster their children’s self-esteem, their self-confidence and their independence. Praise their best efforts and have fun learning with them. The school works hard on promoting these aspects of the children’s lives by interacting cheerily with the children daily, praising even the most minor achievements and through specific programmes such as Fun Friends and Friends for Life. Kids don’t need material prizes – they just want you to spend time with them, doing things with them and praise their efforts – no need for Smyths Toy Store!
If you would like your child for some part of the day at least, to continue practicing skills learned during their formal learning at school, read on to see what the teachers have come up with.
Think of the homework plan as an “Á La Carte” menu in a restaurant. Parents choose only what they consider their family has an appetite for on any given day. Every family’s circumstance is different and therefore parents are in charge of deciding the homework that will be completed by their family for that day.
The most important thing to remember about the long term plan is that there is absolutely NO OBLIGATION on any family to complete any of the activities suggested for each class. You do as much or as little homework as you think your household can handle!! The teachers are simply making sure that there is enough homework available to satisfy even the most enthusiastic learners!!
Each teacher will post a weekly grid on the school website every Monday morning before 10am. The activities for the week can be completed in any order you wish and you can submit one activity to the teacher on-line every day for feedback. Teachers have endeavoured to include as many curricular areas as possible in the activities.
The grid will also include a competition each week. Entries should be submitted on-line by Thursday and the winner will be posted on the website on Friday.
The long term Homework plan begins next Monday morning (30th March) @ 10am.
During the 2 weeks that would have been our spring break, both teachers and families are taking a break from homework. Teachers however, will post project-type activities for children to engage in if they wish to do so.
There are three parts to the long term Homework plan.
- Continuation of what we already have – physical workbooks in literacy & numeracy.
- Activities for the children to complete and submit to their teacher on line and receive feedback.
- An on-line graded reading scheme.
We will be using an App called “Seesaw” to facilitate remote interaction between home and your child’s class teacher. To use this App, you will require a code. Every child in the class uses the same code. The code will be texted to you tomorrow afternoon. You can’t view other children’s work. Once you have the code, you download the App on to your PC/laptop/tablet. When your child logs on to seesaw using the class code, they will see the 5 activities there that teacher has posted for the week. When your child completes the activity, he/she can submit it on Seesaw to their teacher (at any time) for feedback which they’ll get within 24 hours.
Stephen will post a step-by-step instruction sheet for parents on the school website tomorrow to help you get set up for Monday morning. “seesaw parents’ instructions”
ON-LINE GRADED READING SCHEME
We will be using 2 different free on-line graded reading schemes;
One for Junior Infants and Réalt Áras and another for all other classes.
Junior Infants & RÁ – Oxford Owls – free resource – each parent registers (top right hand corner) and then chooses books to read with their child. The books range from story books with no words to books for fluent readers. There is an audio option with these books also.
All other classes – Raz Kids – free resource – each parent will receive a “class user name” and a “personal password” by text tomorrow afternoon. Once you have the codes, follow Joe’s instruction sheet for parents which you’ll find on the school website. “razkids parents’ instructions”
There will be a wide variety of activities featured in every class’ weekly grid in addition to:
- Joe has agreed to do a Friday Family Quiz.
- Personal trainer Joe Wicks does a workout on his You Tube channel every day @ 9am
- Try “Go Noodle” or “cosmic yoga” or any of the 100 activities suggested on our website.
- You can learn a new language by committing to 15mins approx. per day.
- Our national broadcaster RTÉ will be beginning “school on the TV” next Monday morning.
- Explore www.scoilnet.ie – range of activities for all primary school classes.
I hope that all HETNS families keep safe, follow the expert’s guidelines and have fun learning with your children. Whatever way you decide is the best way for your family to learn together is the right way!