October 8th

Here is the email I sent home today:

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve been in touch so I thought I’d email you to let you know how things are going in school at the moment.

We are well settled in at this stage and we’re working hard with the children to try to make as much progress as we can with teaching and learning. We are really focusing on literacy and numeracy. A number of teachers have expressed concerns around the children’s reading levels so I thought I’d enlist your help with this.

This month the PM Reading books are being sent home from school as part of your child’s reading homework in 1st – 4th Class. These books will start in Senior Infants next week. We use these books as part of our literacy programme so we would appreciate your help at home by listening to your child read aloud each evening and engaging in “Book Talk” with them. So, for example, before reading, ask your child to predict the story and after reading ask your child to retell the story in their own words, ask them to tell you about the characters and what happened, ask them to explain words from the story, ask them some questions using the question words: who?/what?/when?/where?/why? Etc

Some classes will also have lists of Tricky Words in their folders. Again we ask with your help in the reinforcement and learning of these words, as at home your child has the opportunity to consolidate work that is done at school. These types of words need regular revision to become part of their reading vocabulary.

One suggestion we made to the children (with parental consent and help) was to use an audio recorder on a tablet/laptop/phone and record themselves reading some/all of their reading from their PM Reading (and/or a book of choice). When it is done we suggest that they listen to themselves doing the reading and follow along in the book to check for expression and any errors etc. Re-reading helps with fluency and accuracy.

While we make suggestions for literacy homework the PM books do not cover the children’s personal preferences and tastes in reading material so with that in mind…..

We want to encourage every child, in every class,  to have DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time at home every day. This can be at a time of your choosing of course, but, for myself, I think it is a very easy thing for a child to do last thing at night. It is relaxing and it is a lovely habit for him/her to form. No matter what we do to teach literacy in school, nothing replaces the child actually picking up a book of his/her choice and reading independently. Even children in the lower classes can enjoy handling a book, looking at pictures and trying to figure out the story, although they may not be able to read all the words. We will help by setting up a lending library in the school and we have a plan in place to ensure that the books will be safe to handle. So please, please, help us to help the children by getting them to read.


I am attaching a copy of the annual school calendar – I know that Caroline has sent it to you already. We have made a change to it this year in that, for the first time, we are taking a week at the February midterm. We felt strongly that the breaks are needed this year to give all of us, children and pupils, a break from school and a chance to recover from coughs and sneezes.

As I write this the Junior Infants are playing outside in the yard. They really have settled in so well. Many of them are now abandoning their parents at the gate in the morning and marching into school. They are so independent!

I also want to comment on Third Class, most of whom were part of two lovely First Communion ceremonies at the weekend. I can honestly say that it was a particularly calm, happy and moving occasion with the children at the very heart of it. Thank you to all who worked hard to make it so special, not least the children in the class who were not making Communion on the day but who were so patient and supportive while the preparations were going on.

Can I remind you that we are having a staff meeting on Monday which means that school is finishing at 2pm for all children?

Thanks, as always, for your help and support. It has made these weeks go very smoothly. Thank you also for being mindful of the school community by keeping children at home when they have Covid-like symptoms. A pupil in 5th class asked me if we would be giving out certificates this year for full attendance – a very good question! My instinct is that this is a different year and that we probably won’t. Rather we will express our gratitude to all for keeping to the guidelines that will help to keep our school open and healthy.

And to finish on a positive note, thank you most sincerely for your generosity to the Hospice. It says everything about the school that we are able to collect €650 to support the work that they do, even in this difficult time.

Best wishes to you all.

Máirín O’Keeffe

The calendar referred to in the email is available to view on the School Letters and Forms page of the website.