Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Thursday, 15 August 2019

September in the Infant classroom

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I am going to begin this post with two words that I IMPLORE you keep in your mind when you think about teaching and learning in the infant classroom - SLOW DOWN.

September is a HUGE transition for the Junior Infants. Regardless of who was in preschool or who wasn't, the pace of their little lives is taking a massive shift. They are being expected to leap into a whole new realm of unfamiliar faces, unfamiliar surroundings and unfamiliar learning experiences. Because of this, the children need time to adapt, settle in and feel comfortable long before you ever leap into the strains of formal learning. I think we often forget that these infants are only four or five years old - and that is still so young. Take a moment to put yourself in their shoes.

September should not be about letters and sounds.
September should not be about workbooks and handwriting.
September should not be about sitting in seats from 9am - 2pm.
September should not be about formality.

Instead, September should be about preparing for learning.

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September should be filled with:

  • Play - socio-dramatic, block play, malleable play, messy play, creative play; you'll learn almost everything about your class by just watching them play.

"It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.”
Leo F. Buscaglia
  • Fine motor and gross motor development - we need to move on from using these as transitions and quiet time activities but seeing them as essential skills children need to develop before they can successfully and comfortable begin formal learning; especially handwriting. Read a recent article in the Irish Times about this detailing the research of my colleague, Sinead Lambe. 
  • Learning routines - lining up, toilet routines, lunch time procedures, sitting on the floor, circle time, movement in the classroom (see my post with some routine songs & jingles)
  • Getting to know their classmates, the school surroundings & staff - teaching their classmates names, visiting the other classrooms (I used to take them to see a different classroom everyday in September from week two on!) and learning the names and recognising the faces of the staff, essential for yard time and those inevitable days that you are absent!
  • Developing listening skills (see my previous post on this!)
  • Songs & Nursery Rhymes - all day long! Again, not just as time fillers! See Nursery Rhymes for what they are - valuable listening lessons; speech practice; memory development; developing an awareness for rhymes, letter sounds and syllables.
  • Scissor skills - practice in September will save lots of your lovely cutting and sticking exercises from being chopped to smithereens during the year!
  • Turn taking
  • Oral language - chatting, talk & discussion in pairs, groups and whole class. Learning to answer questions. Learning to ask questions. Remember, young children are  still the centre of their own universe and need to learn to see and appreciate the input of others. 
  • Stories, picture books, poems - not just as a filler at lunch or hometime! Tie them into everything. There's a poem, story and picture book for every topic, every lesson, every theme. (See my post on Books for Themes!)
  • Learning to win & learning to lose - games, rewards, PE! 

We tend to rush into formal learning because you have tangible results - you have worksheets and paper trails to prove your teaching & learning. But even a quick glance at the new Primary Language Curriculum shows how all of the above can be easily incorporated into the strands and elements for literacy alone. 



So if you take away anything from this post, let it be to slow down, give the children time and focus on the key skills children need to develop before they begin formal learning. There's plenty of time.




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2 comments

  1. Excellent post, so true. Time needs to be given to the procedures and skills necessary for learning.

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