Tips for working with your child

Tips for parents of children starting school in September are available to download in booklet form in the publications section of the INTO website. These tips are avilable in English, Irish, Spanish and French. Information available at


Developing Oral Language with your child – Top Ten Tips

Infants – 1st class
• Listen to what your child is saying/ trying to say and respond to contributions
• Make and maintain eye contact while talking with your child
• Explain the meaning of words
• Talk through activities
• Talk through everyday experiences
• Involve your child in discussions/ plans
• Ask/ answer questions
• Teach your child nursery rhymes/ songs/ poems/ raps
• Develop your child’s receptive language by asking him/her to follow simple instructions
• Assist your child to express ideas in an orderly fluent way
• Read to your child each night

2nd – 4th class
• Set aside 10-15 minutes to discuss the day’s happenings
• Encourage your child to express and justify opinions
• Involve your child in adult conversations when appropriate
• Talk about your child’s favourite T.V programme
• Play language games which focus on words i.e. Scrabble, crosswords
• Encourage your child to talk about experiences with a range of people; peers, relations, other adults
• Listen carefully and clarify meaning ‘Do you mean/ or is this what you mean?’
• Encourage your child to give reasons for decisions
• Encourage your child to listen courteously to the opinion of others
• Talk about school topics and assignments

5th and 6th class
• Encourage your child to develop a positive attitude to speaking/ listening
• Discuss your child’s school work successes/ concerns/ interests
• Respect your child’s opinions and feelings
• Involve your child in adult conversations, when appropriate
• Help your child to extend his range of words in specialised subjects
• Encourage your child to listen and respond courteously to others
• Watch and discuss T.V news/ current affairs programmes together
• Assist your child to locate information in local library, internet
• Talk about school topics and assignments
• Play commercial games that focus on word building

Writing with your child – Top Ten Tips

Infants – 1st Class 

  • Model writing yourself –  shopping lists/letters/cards etc
  • Provide a special place for your child to write/scribble and provide a variety of materials
  • Display your child’s name as often a possible i.e Sean’s Room
  • Teach your child the letter in his/her own name
  • Provide alphabet books
  • Write messages/reminders to your child
  • Encourage your child to write his/her own messages
  • Praise your child/s efforts
  • Ask your child to read their own messages
  • Respond to the messages and not to the grammar and spelling

2nd – 4th Class 

  • Praise your child’s efforts – respond to the message and not spelling/handwriting or grammar.
  • Look for opportunities for purposeful writing activities at home writing greeting cards, notes, telephone messages.
  • Encourage your child to use a word processor/computer
  • Provide a quiet writing/ study area for your child well equipped with pencils/paper
  • Encourage your child to keep a diary.
  • Support your child’s spelling attempts.
  • Encourage him/her to have a go at spelling difficult words.
  • Use scrapbooks to support your child’s hobby/special interests. Buy presents that support writing.
  • Make sure your child has a dictionary to help with writing.
  • Help your child to fill in personal details on forms, etc.

5th – 6th Class

  • Encourage your child to keep a diary. Respect privacy.
  • Encourage your child to write for real purposes everyday – shopping lists/phone messages etc.
  • Praise the effort and respond to the message and not the handwriting, grammar etc.
  • Make sure that your child has access to a dictionary, thesaurus to help with writing.
  • Allow your child work on a computer.
  • Try crossword puzzles and ‘Find the word puzzles’.
  • Provide a range of attractive writing materials – coloured pens, fancy paper.
  • Encourage your child to write greeting cards/thank you notes, etc.
  • Encourage your child to take part in writing competitions/ community projects..
  • Show your child that you value writing by writing yourself.

Working with your child – Top Ten Tips

Infants – 1st Class

  • Read to your child as often as you can
  • Talk about books/characters/plots
  • Enrol your child in the local library
  • Provide a good role model by reading yourself
  • Keep audio tapes of familiar stories to play in the car
  • Vary the types of books you read – stories/poems/information
  • Accept your child’s efforts with praise
  • Concentrate on what he/she got right
  • Make reading together enjoyable
  • Take part in school based initiatives like shared reading

2nd – 4th Class 

  • Continue to read to your child every day
  • Read some of the books your child enjoys so that you can discuss it with him/her
  • Encourage your child to read to younger siblings
  • Ensure that your child knows that you value and enjoy reading yourself
  • Make sure that there is a wide variety of reading material at home
  • Enrol and encourage your child to visit the local library
  • Discuss favourite authors
  • Encourage your child to read headlines articles in newspapers
  • Encourage you child to guess unknown words
  • Praise your child’s efforts

5th – 6th Class

  • Encourage your child to visit the local library as often as possible
  • Recognise and praise your child’s efforts in reading
  • Ensure your child has access to a wide range of reading material
  • Take an interest in different children’s authors
  • Discuss ideas and points of view proposed by newspaper articles etc
  • Provide a well lit study/reading area
  • Ensure that you value/enjoy reading yourself
  • Allow your child to choose his/her own reading material
  • Encourage your child to read for information – forecast/timetables/menus…
  • Encourage your child to try and guess unknown words

Helping your young child to read and write

  • Listen to your child. Nod or smile to show you are interested. Try not to interrupt while your child is speaking
  • Encourage your child to talk and tell you about things: friends, hobbies or what he/she has been doing in school
  • Enjoy listening to and speaking to your child. Try: listening to and singing songs and nursery rhymes
  • Play Games: I spy with my little eye something beginning with the sound  ‘ch’ …
  • Make a book with your child using words and pictures
  • Enjoy books together. Draw attention to: holding the book the right way up, turning the pages, moving your finger from left to right, making connections between pictures and words. Ask questions: What?, When?, Why? What if..?
  • Enjoy cutting, gluing and sticking with your child
  • Help your child to: make marks, trace and copy patterns, colour, draw or even try their own writing. use pencils, markers, chalk or crayons. Try forming letters in sand or play dough.
  • Draw your child’s attention to pictures, signs, letters and words when out and about
  • Visit the library. Choose, look at and talk about books together
  • Let your child see you reading magazines, newspapers, books or writing letters, emails or a shopping list

10 Tips on Hearing your Child Read

  • Choose a quiet time free of distractions
  • Make reading an enjoyable positive experience; don’t pressurise your child if he or she is reluctant
  • Maintain the flow by allowing opportunity foe self-correction as opposed to interrupting and correcting
  • Be Positive and boost your child’s confidence with constant praise for even the smallest achievement
  • Success is the key. Until your child has built up his/her confidence, it is better to keep to easier books
  • Regular Practice. Little and often is best
  • Talk about the books… the pictures, characters, plot, favourite part…..
  • Variety is important.…picture books, hard backs, poems, magazines and information books

Helping your young child with Maths

  • Give your child containers to play with. Talk about: holds more/less or empty/full
  • Encourage your child to tidy up toys. Try comparing them: This toy is heavier/lighter or bigger/smaller than….
  • Make patterns using buttons or clothes pegs. Think about shape, colour and size
  • Give your child Maths objects to play with: measuring tapes, rulers, phones, watches, jugs, weighing scales
  • Look at the clock: time for school/ bed…
  • Ask your child to help with sorting: matching socks or putting things in the fridge or press
  • Look at shapes: how many circles can you see in the kitchen?…
  • Draw attention to the days of the week and the time of the day: today, yesterday and tomorrow
  • Look at numbers: on cars, buses, in shops
  • Measure your child: How tall is she/he`/ What is her/his shoe size?
  • Play counting games: counting up and down the stairs
  • Draw or make shapes using sand, pasta, crayons, cardboard cut-outs
  • Make a pretend shop using packets of food. use real or pretend money. Talk about: How many? How much?

Supporting your child’s  learning over the summer

Information and tips available at


Translate »