Curriculum

Kiltiernan National School Curriculum

The next section gives a brief outline of the content of each subject. We hope that it will inform you of the learning experiences your child will encounter and perhaps stimulate ideas on ways in which you can support us.

We welcome any support offered to us and we have forged relationships with many individuals who are experienced and expert in their field of work and study i.e. writers, artists, scientists and performers.

If you have a particular resource or talent you would like to share with us please let us know! We hope your child’s education will be a partnership in the fullest sense, between home and school.

There will be many occasions during your child’s time here, when you will be invited/encouraged to join us in organising events or celebrating your child’s achievements.

In the curriculum the child starting in Infants is referred to as an ‘emergent reader’. Oral language development is the foundation upon which the child’s reading development is established. Activities and skills developed in the child’s first years in primary school include listening skills, recalling, naming, categorising, describing, sequencing and reasoning. The children will have opportunities to work as part of a whole class, in pairs and independently. The teacher acts as facilitator, creating opportunities for new language structures to be used and practised, modelling good communication and using a variety of contexts through which new vocabulary/ structures can be taught i.e. through Talk & Discussion, Stories, Poetry & Rhyme, Drama and Language Games. A lot of this work is done thematically e.g. ‘Clothes’ or ‘Homes’ or ‘Food’. If you have any relevant material (photographs, posters, calendars, samples) on a theme through which your child is working please feel free to contribute it.

A structured reading scheme is not introduced until the children are deemed to be confident and competent enough in their language development. However, the children will engage with ‘real books’ in the class library from their first day at school. They will handle and play with books. They will experience a wide range of texts, by being read to in school from large format books and at home by you in a shared reading experience.

It is vital that the emergent reader is aware of the purpose and pleasure of print, that he or she becomes alert to the way books are used, the way that text and illustrations tell the story and that reading is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Parents play a vital role in communicating this message. We strongly recommend that a routine of reading with your child, four nights a week, for 10 to 15 minutes is established from your child’s first days at school. This may be the single biggest factor in developing your child’s interest, enthusiasm and confidence in reading. Buying books as presents and treats, setting time aside to share books and praising and facilitating your child in reading alone is very important. If you are not a member of a local library it is a wonderful way to introduce your child to books, to other readers his or her age and to participate in competitions and activities centered on reading. Gort and Oranmore have well-stocked public libraries and a busy programme of activities for younger readers. It makes an ideal trip for rainy Saturdays and membership is free.

The development of sight vocabulary is another key element in the emergent reading phase. High interest words (Mammy, Daddy, me…) and high frequency words (The, here, there, and, in…) are taught. About 40 of these words are introduced in the first year.

The teacher models good communication (speaking and listening skills), reading and writing at every level in the primary school. But at Infants this work is done very explicitly and deliberately for the child. The teacher will “think out loud” as he/ she writes or opens a book, allowing the child to participate in the activity at his/ her own pace, confidently. This approach can be replicated at home with your child when you are reading a book or newspaper or making a shopping list or using a telephone directory. Invite your child to observe you, including him or her in your thought processes and explain why you are taking each step.

Written work will focus on personal writing. The child’s name will be an important pathway for developing skills in letter recognition and formation. The child will be encouraged to write titles, captions and messages in their artwork for example. This is an important stage in the child’s understanding of the purpose of the printed word. Work will often be done on sheets and samples will be kept in a folder to track the child’s progress.

Evaluation & Assessment

The child will be assessed continuously through teacher observation. The class teacher will refine this observation through the use of recognised checklists to determine the progress of each child. Samples of your child’s writing and written observations on his/her reading and oral language skills are kept.

Each year a report is given orally in Parent -Teacher Meetings and in written form in a summer report which is sent home. A copy is kept in school so that each child’s progress is recorded and tracked. If a class teacher has any concerns about a child’s performance he/she will contact the parents and he/she will advise them on the situation and the kinds of supports and options available. If you have concerns make an appointment with your child’s teacher and these can be discussed.

Learning support is an option, which is offered to a minority of children who qualify for this extra support. Standardised tests (Drumcondra Primary Reading Test, given from 1st Class-6th Class) determine whether a child qualifies for this supplementary teaching provided by the Learning Support teacher. You, as a parent may have questions or concerns about your child’s performance from time to time. It is very important to communicate these concerns or queries to your child’s teacher. Together you can work to ensure that your child’s learning experience is a happy one. Any anxieties can be alleviated through discussion and by planning supportive strategies to ensure that your child feels confident and involved in their own learning.

Please Note: Senior Infants class has been identified as a focus for targeted early intervention in literacy by the Department of Education. Where numbers allow, schools are to provide whole class/group intervention. In Kiltiernan, our learning support teacher will provide this service, usually in the area of phonics as a support to the class teacher. Where necessary, further support may be provided to individual pupils on a more formal basis from first class onwards.

If you require further information, please contact the class teacher or the learning support teacher.

Emphasis in the revised curriculum (1999) is on the spoken language as opposed to written work and reading. A huge emphasis in classwork is placed on giving children opportunities to speak Irish, to become confident in developing their aural comprehension by doing listening tasks from resources from CDs, Radio na Gaeltachta and by listening to instructions and explanations as Gaeilge from the teacher. This emphasis is particularly evident in the Junior classes. The teaching of formal reading does not begin until Second Class, maximising opportunities for speaking and listening activities.

The topics to be covered each year will be revised and expanded and are as follows:

  • Mé Féin
  • Bia
  • An Scoil
  • Sa Bhaile
  • Caitheamh Aimsire
  • An Teilifís
  • An Aimsir
  • Ag Siopadóireacht
  • Ocáidí Speisialta

We encourage you to express positive interest in your child’s progress in every subject, especially Gaeilge. Children will be given litriú (spellings), frásaí na seachtaine (phrases of the week) and drámaí beaga (small dramas) to learn from time to time. The revised curriculum is designed to be enjoyable, relevant to the children’s experience and presented in a varied and exciting way. Your support at home is crucial.

Mathematics is divided into five areas of study:

  1. Number
  2. Algebra
  3. Shape and Space
  4. Measures
  5. Data

Number starts with early mathematical activities like classifying, matching, ordering and comparing. In First and Second Classes place value is introduced. Decimals are taught from Third Class onwards. Percentages are introduced in Fifth Class.

Algebra covers pattern, sequencing, number sentences, directed numbers, rules and properties and equations. It is introduced in Junior Infants.

Shape and Space explores spatial awareness. It includes three-dimensional and two-dimensional shapes, line, symmetry and angles.

Measures consists of length, area, capacity, time and money. Many of the concepts here are related to the child’s maturity, readiness and his/her experience outside the classroom. Giving your child opportunities to handle, identify coins and notes and calculate change when you shop is hugely beneficial. Asking your child to guess the duration of an activity in the simplest terms (a long time/ a short time/ before or after dinner…), using the clock and calendar to show when an activity will take place prepares your child for these concepts in the classroom.

Data is a new strand but includes interpreting and understanding visual representations e.g. line and bar graphs, Venn diagrams etc.

Chance is a strand which covers areas of life where maths is applied to guess, predict, discuss and decide outcomes in the form of games and sporting activities.

The Maths curriculum will involve the use of concrete materials and manipulatives, estimation will be an aspect of all strands as will the use of clear consistent mathematical language. It is important to try and adopt the same language as is used in the classroom when helping your child at homework. Problem solving will be developed at all levels as will mental maths.

Calculators are introduced to senior classes when it has been established that the children can understand the process of calculating the solution.

Arts education comprises of three separate subject areas: –

  1. Visual Arts
  2. Music
  3. Drama

Visual Arts

The Visual Arts is taught through six areas of learning experience for your child:

  1. Drawing
  2. Painting & Colour
  3. Print
  4. Construction
  5. Clay
  6. Fabric and Fibre

Your child will learn through making art regularly in the classroom but also through looking at and responding to the work of other artists, using the local environment and heritage and through visits from artists e.g. Gordon D’Arcy and to artists like Michael Kennedy Ceramics in Gort.

We believe it is very important for your child to have opportunities to meet artists, composers, writers and performers. The breadth of your child’s intelligence and talents is not confined to areas of numeracy and literacy alone. The arts will provide a source of endless joy and fulfillment that will hopefully always add to the richness of your child’s life and their experience of the world. It is also important for a child with a particular ability in the arts to recognise the opportunities available to him/her in choosing it as a hobby or as a career.

Music

Music exists in all cultures, in many forms, for many purposes. It can become a lifelong source of enjoyment and pleasure. Your child may continue to develop music as a leisure activity through listening and responding, performing and composing. The music curriculum includes all these components, in our school.

Children in Kiltiernan National School will have opportunities to make music through playing the tin whistle, using percussion instruments (chime bars, tambourines), and through song – singing. Your child will be given opportunities to listen to and respond to a wide range of styles of music and traditions. Composition is also part of the music curriculum and the children will be encouraged to compose simple pieces of percussive music, telling stories, through music using their voices, bodies (clapping and tapping feet!), percussion instruments and the tin whistle. Music is also integrated through other subjects especially Religion and Gaeilge.

Drama

Drama is an integral part of our teaching in Kiltiernan. We use every opportunity we can to involve children in role-play in areas of the curriculum like English, Gaeilge, S.P.H.E. (Social, Personal and Health Education). But drama is developed for its own sake as a stand-alone subject area. Children prepare, rehearse and perform in a Christmas concert annually. Many life skills are developed through this experience and it is a marvellous opportunity for parents and staff to celebrate each child’s unique contribution and talents.

The revised curriculum includes athletics, dance gymnastics, games, outdoor adventure activities and aquatics. In Kiltiernan we promote each child’s awareness of its individual physical potential. In Term 1 and Term 2, the children are given weekly instruction in Irish Dancing for half an hour. In the last term, children (from 2nd to 6th) are brought to a local pool (Kilcornan), for a course of swimming, games and activities in a safe, secure environment, with 3 qualified instructors. Throughout the year the children are given experiences of playing team sports (hurling, basketball…), athletics and we have the facility of providing indoor activities in our hall when the weather is poor. We are very fortunate to have extensive green space around our school. Every lunchtime, especially for our newest pupils, there is a voyage of discovery, imaginative play and exploration in a safe, supervised environment.

We encourage children to role-play as well as involve themselves in team sports like football. We also have hula hoops and skipping ropes to facilitate development of these activities. We believe the opportunities available here contribute greatly to your child’s physical and emotional development. We encourage your child to develop positive attitudes and good self-esteem through their formal and informal experience of physical endeavor and activity.

S.E.S.E. is a group of subjects which are both distinctive and yet closely related:

  • History
  • Geography
  • Science

These areas of the curriculum are designed to enable your child to develop an understanding of the physical world, the relationship of people with their environment and how this relationship has evolved through history. In Kiltiernan, our aim is to develop open, critical and responsible attitudes in the children so that they may live as informed, caring members of the local and wider communities.

History

History is the interpretation of what is considered to be significant human activities in the past. We introduce children to the way historians go about their work- by recalling personal experience, collecting objects of interest for investigation, drawing simple conclusions based on their observations of simple artefacts and places of interest e.g. Coole Park, Thoor Ballylee. Local history will be a key element of the curriculum at all levels. Topics will also cover Irish and International history. From time to time your child’s class teacher may ask for objects of interest (e.g. old watches/ timepieces or old photographs). In discussing and studying these items your child will develop a sense of what the past means and develop an understanding of the concept of time, history and their place in it. We appreciate your support in this work.

Geography

Geography includes the study of the earth, its inhabitants, their interrelationships and also explores the concepts of place, space and the environment. We begin with the particular, local environment and community and broaden your child’s scope of study to include other environments in Ireland, Europe and other continents. We hope to foster your child’s awareness and appreciation of their own local identity but also their identity as members of national, European and global communities. In doing so, we hope to promote an attitude of tolerance, understanding and respect for difference i.e. cultural differences and ways of life throughout the world. It also develops a child’s sense of his or her own individuality and a responsibility for environmental care.

Science

Science comprises of a study of the following areas:

  • Living Things
  • Energy & Forces
  • Materials
  • Environmental Awareness & Care

Practical investigation is central to scientific study, developing skills in your child like: observing, hypothesising, predicting, experimenting, planning ‘fair’ tests, analysing results and recording them. We want to foster a positive and enquiring attitude to the world through science. We hope your child will develop an awareness of the contribution of science at home, in the workplace, at school and in the world around us. We will focus as much upon the process of investigation as much as the outcomes. If any parent has any relevant skills, interest or materials in this area we would love to hear from you.

All the above curricular areas contribute to a greater or lesser extent to your child’s social, personal and health education. However, S.P.H.E. provides specific opportunities to enable your child to understand himself/herself, to develop healthy relationships and to establish and maintain healthy patterns of behaviour. This in turn, informs his/her decision-making in the social, personal and health dimensions of his/her life, both now and in the future.This area also aims to prepare your child for active and responsible citizenship. The subject concentrates on three areas:

  1. Myself: Respect and care for his/her body, health, hygiene and appropriate concern for safety…
  2. Myself & Others: Relating to and respecting others, understanding, empathising…
  3. Myself & the Wider World: Concepts of democracy, justice, inclusiveness through organisational structures (like his/her classroom, the school, in the wider community), the media and its role in society…

We develop your child’s understanding of these areas through three methods:

  1. A positive school climate and atmosphere
  2. Integration through other subject areas e.g. P.E., religion, the Arts subjects…
  3. Specifically allotted curricular times.

Active learning is a crucial teaching methodology in this area. We use activities like brainstorming, pair and group discussion, role-playing, artwork and debates in older classes. Your child will have the opportunity to encounter dilemmas and make choices in a safe environment and consider a variety of strategies for dealing with them. Issues like emotions, bullying, smoking/ drinking, personal hygiene, water safety, personal health and reproduction are covered in age and stage appropriate lessons. As your child engages in these activities he/she will have to express opinions, recall relevant personal experience, persuade others, listen to other opinions and beliefs, argue and defend ideas appropriately. It is hoped that he/she will internalise these skills (means of communication) as well as the content learned. The overall aim is that your child will transfer these skills to his/her everyday life.

You are informed in advance if there will be content taught of a sensitive nature and you are always welcome to view our lesson plans for any topics about which you have concerns, covered in S.P.H.E. Click on the link below to see the topics covered in each class.
 

Kiltiernan N.S. is a Catholic primary school, promoting and expressing a Catholic ethos. We promote values which are in common with most Christian faiths, i.e. belief in God, tolerance, mutual respect, sharing with and encouraging others, showing generosity and concern for others.

We prepare our Second Class and Sixth Class pupils for the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation each year. We respect the right of any parent to choose to have their child’s religious education taught outside school. If any parent does not wish their child to participate in religious instruction he/she can be given alternative work to do. We aim to foster tolerance and sensitivity.

At all times we encourage parents to communicate with us regarding any concerns or queries they may have.

Homework

It is the policy of the school to assign homework on a regular basis. Parents are strongly advised to take an active interest in their child’s homework and to sign their Homework Journal each night (ensuring that it is done). A homework policy for each class is distributed by the class teacher to each parent at the beginning of the school year.