Nursery Rhymes

Do you remember the nursery rhymes you learned as a child? Do you know that as well as being fun, nursery rhymes are a great way to build our children’s language and literacy? Here are the words of lots of the favourite nursery rhymes, from the Early Childhood Ireland website.

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When to use face coverings and how to make them

Here is the advice from the website on when to use face coverings and how to make and wear them. You can access this information and more at

When to use face coverings and how to make them

From Department of Health

Published at: 15 May 2020

Last updated 20 July 2020


Face coverings are now required on public transport.

Face coverings will also be required in shops and shopping centres. Regulations with details on enforcement are in the process of being drafted.

Wearing a cloth face covering is also recommended in situations where it is difficult to practise social distancing, for example in shops. Wearing of cloth face coverings may help prevent people who do not know they have the virus from spreading it to others.

If you wear one, you should still do the important things necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.

These include:

  • washing your hands properly and often
  • covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
  • not touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • social distancing (keeping at least 2 metres away from other people)

Read the Department of Health’s advice on how to protect yourself and others here.

Cloth face coverings

A cloth face covering is a material you wear that covers the nose and mouth.

Wearing a cloth face covering in public may reduce the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in the community. It may help to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets from people infected with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Cloth face coverings may help to stop people who are not aware they have the virus from spreading it.

If you have COVID-19 (Coronavirus) or have symptoms of the virus, you must self-isolate. Do this even if you wear a face covering.

When to wear one

Face coverings are required on public transport.

Wearing of face coverings is recommended in the following circumstances:

  • when staying 2 metres apart from people is difficult – for example, in shops or shopping centres
  • by people visiting the homes of those who are cocooning
  • by people who are being visited in their homes by those who are cocooning

What they are made from

Cloth face coverings are made from materials such as cotton, silk, or linen.

You can buy them or make them at home using items such as scarfs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

Who should not wear one

Cloth face coverings are not suitable for children under the age of 13 and anyone who:

  • has trouble breathing
  • is unconscious or incapacitated
  • is unable to remove it without help
  • has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering

Do not criticise or judge people who are not able to wear a face covering.

How to wear one

A cloth face covering should cover the nose and go under the chin and:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include at least 2 layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction

How to wash one

Wash daily in a hot wash over 60 degrees with detergent.

If using a washing machine, you should be able to wash and machine dry it without damage or change to shape.

You do not need to sterilise cloth face coverings. Wash it in a washing machine or by hand as you would any other item of clothing.

Wash hands before and after use.

How to make one

To make a cloth face covering at home:

  • cut two rectangles of tightly-woven cotton about 25cm x 15cm
  • fold and stitch the top and bottom edges
  • fold and stitch the side edges, leaving a gap big enough to thread elastic through
  • thread two 15cm lengths of elastic through the side edges and tie tight. Hair ties or string, cut longer and tied behind the head, will work
  • tuck elastic knots inside the edges of the mask and stitch in place for a neater finish

When to throw it out

You should throw out a cloth face covering when it:

  • no longer covers the nose and mouth
  • has stretched out or damaged ties or straps
  • cannot stay on the face
  • has holes or tears in the fabric

How to use a cloth face covering properly


  • clean your hands properly before you put it on
  • practise using it so you are comfortable putting it on and taking it off
  • make sure it is made from a fabric you are comfortable wearing
  • cover your mouth and nose with it and make sure there are no gaps between your cloth face covering
  • tie it securely
  • carry unused masks in a sealable clean waterproof bag(for example, a ziplock bag)
  • carry a second similar type bag to put used masks in


  • touch a mask or face covering while wearing it – if you do, clean your hands properly
  • use a damp or wet medical mask or reuse a medical mask
  • share masks
  • do not lower your mask to speak, eat and smoke or vape – if you need to uncover your nose or mouth take the mask off and put it in the bag for used masks
  • do not discard masks in public places

Taking off a cloth face covering

To take it off properly:

  • remove it from behind – do not touch the front of the mask
  • do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • clean your hands properly
  • put disposable masks in a bin straight away

Medical face masks

Medical masks (surgical and respirator) are for healthcare workers. Some workers in specific jobs also use them. They are vital supplies and are not intended for use by the public in the community. We want to try and make sure that medical face masks are kept for health care workers.

Disposable gloves

Do not wear disposable gloves instead of washing your hands.

The virus gets on them in the same way it gets on your hands. Also, your hands can get contaminated when you take them off.

Disposable gloves are worn in medical settings. They are not as effective in daily life.

Wearing disposable gloves can give you a false sense of security.

You might:

  • sneeze or cough into the gloves – this creates a new surface for the virus to live on
  • contaminate yourself when taking off the gloves or touching surfaces
  • not wash your hands as often as you need to and touch your face with contaminated gloves


Helping brain development in young children

Do you know that you can help your child’s brain to develop? Here’s how, from The Growing Child newsletter distributed by Lifestart.

There is increasing evidence that a young child’s environment plays an important part in brain development.
Providing a child with appropriate developmental activities and experiences can lead to an increase in brain cell connections.

By so doing, the child is not only using existing brain cells but these increased connections can actually reshape the brain and enhance the brain’s power to learn and remember new material. Here is a short checklist to serve as a reminder of what parents can do
for their child’s brain development:

  • Provide opportunities for your child to explore and gather information both in your home and outside the home.
  • Give your child many opportunities to develop new skills, such as sorting, putting things in order, comparing, and discovering relationships, such as cause and effect.
  • If your child doesn’t know how to get started on a new task, you can provide some guided rehearsal, but have her become actively involved as soon as possible. She will learn better as an active participant than as an observer.
  • Don’t push if your child’s behavior indicates that a task is too difficult. Back off to a simpler task at which your child can experience success.
  •  Avoid disapproval, mocking or teasing if your child makes a mistake.
  • Talk to your child in simple language to explain new words and concepts.
  • Give praise and encouragement for good effort and celebrate new accomplishments.



The GROWING TOGETHER NEWSLETTER is issued by; GROWING CHILD Inc., and is distributed free, courtesy of: THE LIFESTART FOUNDATION, 2, Springrowth House, Balliniska Rd., Springtown Ind. Estate, L’Derry BT48 OGG
Tel: 028 71365363.

Getting my Calculated Grades: A Guide for Students

Getting my Calculated Grades: A Guide for Students

From Department of Education and Skills

Published at: 20 July 2020

Last updated 20 July 2020


How to opt in to receive Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate 2020 – key points:

The Calculated Grades Student Portal reopens at 12pm on Monday 20 July on Certificate.

Students have until 4pm on Monday 27 July to opt to receive Calculated Grades:

  • students following the Established Leaving Certificate programme – opt in on a subject by subject basis
  • students following the Leaving Certificated Applied Programme (Year 1 and Year 2) – opt in to receive your award in the full LCA programme and not for individual subjects, modules or tasks

You will receive your Calculated Grades results on 7 September. This provides you with the opportunity to progress either to employment or further studies within the 2020/2021 academic year.

All students will have the option to sit the Leaving Certificate examinations when it is safe to hold them.

If you are not satisfied with the Calculated Grade you receive in one or more of your subjects, then there is an appeals process. You will also have the option to sit the later examinations.

All students should take the opportunity to opt-in, even if you think you might not be eligible to receive Calculated Grades (for example, you are an out of school learner or you are studying a subject outside of school). The Calculated Grades Executive Office has not yet issued decisions in these cases so it is still essential that you complete the opt-in process.

Calculated Grades have the same status as the Leaving Certificate results awarded to students in previous years. There is no downside to opting in to receive a Calculated Grade.

Calculated Grades results

The Calculated Grades will issue to students on 7 September.

This will be in time for students who have applied through the CAO and the UK’s UCAS for college entry for the 2020/2021 academic year, as both the CAO and UCAS have agreed to extend their timeline to accommodate this new process.

It will also allow students to progress to further education and training as close as possible as would have been the case had the Leaving Certificate examinations been run as normal.

While it is slightly later than it would be if students had sat the examinations, this is the earliest that the results can be made available, given the rigorous and robust process that is involved in the Calculated Grades process.

The process includes a national standardisation process, validation of the statistical model and many quality assurance checks to ensure that the grades are accurate, reliable and fair to all students. To read more about the Calculated Grades data collection, national standarisation and quality assurance process, see A Short Guide to the Calculated Grades Data Collection, National Standardisation and Quality Assurance Processes .

Calculated Grades have the same status as the Leaving Certificate Examination

Calculated Grades have the same status as the Leaving Certificate results awarded to students in previous years and those that will be awarded in future years.

The Leaving Certificate class of 2020 will in no way be disadvantaged by receiving Calculated Grades, relative to previous or future Leaving Certificate students.

The government has made clear to higher and further education providers, to employers, and to higher education institutions abroad that Calculated Grades have the same status as the Leaving Certificate Examination.

More detail on this:

As a result of the robust and rigorous processes implemented to arrive at the Calculated Grades, these grades will be of equal standing and currency value to the previous and future Leaving Certificate grades. This means that they can be used to allow you to progress from second level following whatever pathway you choose, whether it be to further study or to the world of work.

If your decision at this point is to progress to the world of work and sometime in the future you decide to return to education, the 2020 Calculated Grades will have the same standing as any Leaving Certificate examination grades for entry to further study at that time. The certificate you receive will be similar to the one you would have received if the examinations had proceeded as normal.

If you choose to sit one or more of the later examinations, your final Leaving Certificate will integrate your Calculated Grades and the results of your examination in a way in which is most favourable to you.

Sitting the later Leaving Certificate examinations

Even if you opt to receive Calculated Grades you will still have an opportunity to sit the later Leaving Certificate examinations in one or more subjects.

If you do this, your final Leaving Certificate will reflect the best results for you.

For example:

  • if you sit the later examinations and you receive a grade lower than the Calculated Grade that you received in the subject, your certificate will display the Calculated Grade, as this is higher
  • if you receive a higher grade in the later examination, then this is the grade that will appear on your certificate

However, it is important to note that grades from the later examinations will not be available in time for CAO and UCAS in the 2020/2021 academic year.

Why some people will not receive Calculated Grades in a subject or subjects:

The system of Calculated Grades has been created to allow as many as possible of the 61,000 students in the Leaving Certificate class of 2020 to progress to employment, further education and training, or higher education in a way that is fair to all students.

The system is underpinned by key principles of objectivity, equity and fairness. For the Calculated Grades system to be operated with integrity, and to ensure fairness for all students, an estimated percentage mark, based on credible, satisfactory evidence, can only be accepted from an appropriate source.

There are two particular groups of students who may not be able to receive Calculated Grades:

  • students who are enrolled in full-time education but are studying an extra subject outside the school
  • external students who are not enrolled in full-time education and are regarded as out-of-school learners

Students studying one or more subjects outside their school

In cases where a student is attending school, but is studying one or more subjects outside of school, school principals were asked to make every effort to provide an estimated mark for that subject provided there was sufficient, credible evidence available from an appropriate source.

If the principal was unable to provide an estimated mark for any student, they were asked to notify the Calculated Grades Executive Office (CGEO) in the Department of Education and Skills. The CGEO is currently undertaking a review of these reports with the schools involved, to ensure that the correct procedures were followed.

Out of school learners

Out of school learners, that is, Leaving Certificate students who were not attending any school on a full-time basis, had to apply directly to the CGEO for Calculated Grades and these applications are currently being processed.

Any student in this group who has not yet applied to be considered for Calculated Grades will be contacted by the CGEO to confirm whether or not they wish to do so. The processing of the applications will involve contacting the teachers, tutors or centres of learning, nominated by the student to provide an estimated mark on their behalf.

Where it is deemed not possible to provide a Calculated Grade in a subject, to either an out of school learner or a student studying a subject outside of school, the student will be contacted by the CGEO to inform them of this decision.

The student will be afforded the opportunity to appeal the decision. If the student remains dissatisfied, they can pursue an independent appeal scrutiny process if they wish. This process has to be completed so that this information is available for the national standardisation process which will generate the calculated grades. The national standardisation process will combine the school-sourced data and the historical data to ensure the Calculated Grades reflect standards that are properly aligned across schools and with a national standard.

Despite every effort being made by schools and by the Department of Education and Skills to provide Calculated Grades to as many students as possible, there will be a small number of cases where there is no credible evidence from an appropriate source to support a Calculated Grade in a particular subject. To attempt to give a Calculated Grade in such cases would be unfair to all other students.

Where it is not possible to provide a Calculated Grade, students will have the opportunity to sit the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations in one or more subjects at a later date when it is safe to do so.

Higher Education – Matriculation Requirements

In some cases, students have studied one or more subjects outside of school with a view to satisfying matriculation or minimum entry requirements for higher education institutions.

The higher education sector has been flexible in its approach to matriculation or minimum entry requirements for Leaving Certificate students in 2020.

The representative bodies of all of the universities and institutes of technology (from here, we will refer to them as higher education institutions) have agreed a common approach in relation to students who have studied Leaving Certificate 2020 subjects outside school and who have not been able to receive a Calculated Grade in those subjects.

In 2020, students who have applied for a Calculated Grade in one or more subjects in the Leaving Certificate 2020, with a view to satisfying matriculation or minimum entry requirements and for whom the Calculated Grades Executive Office has been unable to award a Calculated Grade in a subject, will be granted an exemption in the subject solely for matriculation/minimum entry purposes.

These exemptions will be granted automatically – it will not be necessary for students to apply individually.

Each subject will count as a subject for matriculation but will not attract points.

The exemptions cannot be used to satisfy additional programme requirements over and above the matriculation or minimum entry requirements.

Further information is available from the admissions offices of the individual higher education institutions.

Where the decision by the CGEO is that you cannot be awarded a Calculated Grade, there is no further action required by you in order to obtain the exemption.

The CGEO will be asking all out of school learners, even those who believe that they are ineligible, to engage with them so that its records of those who cannot be provided with a calculated grade are as accurate as possible in order to provide this information to the CAO.

The methods being used internationally to facilitate progression from second level schooling:

Given the global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of an alternative means to certify achievement, to facilitate progression from second level schooling, is not unique to the Irish case. An estimation process is being implemented to certify achievement in the United Kingdom in the case of the GCSEs and A level examinations. A similar approach is being used in France in the case of the Baccalaureate and in other jurisdictions.

While identical processes are not being employed in the case of each of these jurisdictions, due to the variations in data and information available and the different types of assessments involved, they are based on similar data, including the prior achievement of the students and the previous outcomes in the examinations in the past.

As a result, and given the robust and rigorous processes involved in the national standardisation process, the outcomes from the Calculated Grades system will have the same status as the Leaving Certificate in previous years. It can be used for access to further study outside of Ireland, including for example, through the UCAS system in the United Kingdom.

Getting my Calculated Grades – A Guide for Students




This information can also be accessed at


Helping children learn independence

How do we help our children grow in independence? Here are some tips from The Growing Child newsletter distributed by Lifestart

Even though the world may be full of real and imagined dangers, parents need to look for ways to help prepare and train children for the task of growing up and becoming independent.
• Boost self-confidence. Even toddlers can make decisions. Let a small child choose between two shirts she’ll wear that day.
• Praise efforts and accomplishments, no matter how small.
• Talk regularly with her and really listen. Be interested no matter what she says.
• Teach her traffic safety by taking walks and letting her tell you when and where it is safe to walk.
• It is not enough to tell your child to never talk with strangers. If she can’t talk to strangers, how
can she grow up able to deal with all the normal and good contacts that come each day. Tell her instead that you must always know where she is, and that she must never go anywhere with a stranger.
• Teach her her full name, address, telephone number, and a relative’s full name.


The GROWING TOGETHER NEWSLETTER is issued by; GROWING CHILD Inc., and is distributed free, courtesy of: THE LIFESTART FOUNDATION, 2, Springrowth House, Balliniska Rd., Springtown Ind. Estate, L’Derry BT48 OGG Tel: 028 71365363. E-mail: Website: