How does an Early Learning School prepare my child for National School?
We don’t just prepare children for national school, we prepare them for life. We give them the necessary tools to build for themselves a happy, independent and productive future. We see children as competent, active learners. We encourage their curiosity, promote their independence, and guide their holistic development in an environment that is rich and natural. Our children have freedom: freedom to grow and learn, surrounded by natural beauty, fresh air and friends.
We follow the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework – Aistear – so our children follow the same curriculum as other pre-schools and prepare for primary school in the exact same way. The only difference is our tables are outside and instead of blackboards, we use trees.
Tell me more about the curriculum?
Aistear, the Irish word for journey, is the curriculum framework for all children from birth to six years across all early childhood settings; the child’s own home, and junior and senior classes in primary schools. It provides information, ideas and suggestions to help you support children’s learning and development.Aistear presents children’s learning and development using four themes:
The themes describe what children learn – the dispositions, attitudes, values, skills, knowledge and understanding. We believe in 3 T’s – Things Take Time. It’s an important ingredient in helping children become independent. We allow children time as they try something new and we want to support children to succeed, rather than setting them up for failure.
How does outdoor play encourage learning?
The outdoor environment encourages children to explore curricular concepts using higher order thinking, problem solving, self risk assessing and complex language. For instance, collecting wood for the fire involves estimation, measuring, sorting by complex criteria, science, keeping safe, sharing, taking turns, developing manual dexterity and discussion. Physical development of both gross motor and fine motor control is naturally encouraged in the outdoor environment. The skill of our practitioners lies in identifying the learning and recording it in the child’s personal file. Families are encouraged to share these documents with their child.
We help children grow and develop to become…
- Psychologically and socially strong
- As healthy and fit as they can be
- Creative and spiritual
- Have positive outlooks on learning and on life
- Develop strong self-identities; feel respected and affirmed as unique individuals with their own life stories
- Have a sense of group identity where links with their family and community are acknowledged and extended
- Are able to express their rights and show regard for the identity, rights and views of others
- See themselves as capable learners
- Broaden their understanding of the world by making sense of experiences through language
- Express themselves creatively and imaginatively
- Learn about and make sense of the world around them
- Develop and use skills and strategies for observing, questioning, investigating, understanding, negotiating and come to see themselves as explorers and thinkers
Are children out in all weather conditions?
The majority of our learning takes place outside where children can explore and achieve outcomes in a very practical, sensorial, active and contextual manner. Once they are dressed appropriately, children are comfortable in all kinds of weather. We use common sense, however, and do not go outside in hazardous weather conditions. All our schools cater for indoor and outdoor learning.
What should my children wear?
The children are outdoors every day for long periods and it is important that they are dressed appropriately. We keep a few waterproof suits and thermal underwear for sale at cost price. Wellingtons are essential and need to be a good fit. In colder weather, children need woollen socks or snow-boots. During the warmer weather, a sun hat and sun protection cream is required.
What happens if my child gets tired during the day?
Children can have a rest at any time in our rest area. We provide blankets for all children.
What type of meals and snacks will my child get throughout the day?
Children in full day care will get lunch. ECCE children are to bring their own snack along with them. All our meals are prepared onsite daily by our in-house chef, who is fully certified in Food Safety and Hygiene. Our daily menus are balanced and varied, including a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and protein. We cater for special dietary requirements and we have a policy around breast feeding, if required. Our menus do not include junk food and the only drinks offered throughout the day are milk and water.
What about staff training?
Our staff are fully trained and experienced childcare professionals with either a Level 6 or Level 8 qualification. They are certified in first aid and child protection. From time to time, we have student workers in on placement, however, students will never be left unsupervised or in sole charge of children in our care. Our staff and students have all been Garda Vetted.
Where can we find you and what are your opening times?
We have three schools in great locations. Glen Outdoor is just five minutes from Letterkenny in Barrack, Glenswilly. The Park School is at The Mountain Top, Letterkenny and Ray Forest School is in Ray, between Ramelton and Rathmullan.
We are open Monday-Friday from 7.45am-6.00pm throughout the year, excluding bank holidays. We close for Christmas on Tuesday, 23rd December and we reopen on Monday, 5th January 2015.