Safer Internet Day takes place next Tuesday, 7th February 2023. Sadly more than 1 in 4 young people in Ireland have experienced cyberbullying, yet only 60% of victims tell their parents. As teenagers and children spend more time on the internet, ensuring it’s a safe space is ever more important.
To encourage conversation about life online and help parents keep their children safe, I’d like to share a free resource created by Switcher.ie.
It’s a comprehensive guide which includes things like:
- How to reduce the risks online
- How to recognise cyber bullying and grooming
- How to educate children on cyber safety
- How to set up parental controls on devices
I thought it may be useful to share the link to the guide – https://switcher.ie/broadband/guides/how-to-keep-your-children-safe-online/ – which you can include on your website ahead of Safer Internet Day, to help parents and children who may need some extra support.
We’ve also put together some handy top tips you can use on your website:
10 tips to keep your children safe online
- Talk about it:Make time to chat about online risks and how to use the internet safelyas soon as they’re old enough to go online. Encourage your children to speak to you about what they view online and empower them to act if they’re worried about anything.
- Recognise the risks: Educate yourself about the potential dangers children could face online so it’s easier to spot warning signs. Get to know what platforms your children use, and learn about dangers such as phishing, grooming and cyberbullying.
- Teach the do’s and don’ts: Be clear about the non-negotiables. For example, teach your child not to share personal details or photos with strangers and instruct them not to click on links to unknown websites or texts. Do encourage your child to question what they see and only accept friend requests from people they know.
- Spot the signs: Pay attention to your children’s behaviour whilst on and off their devices. Being alert to changes in your child can help prevent problems from escalating. Some warning signs are withdrawing from friends or family, sleeping and eating problems or losing interest in previously loved hobbies or interests.
- Set boundaries:Let your children know what they can and can’t do on the internet from the get-go. Agree on what devices they can use, when, and how long they can spend online. As they get older, explaining and negotiating boundaries may be more effective.
- Take ‘parental’ control: These ready-made boundaries put parents in control of what children can see online. They can be set up through your internet provider at device level to block specific websites and filter out inappropriate content.
- Be social media savvy: The popularity of social media apps like TikTok and Snapchat makes it harder to keep track of what your child is accessing online. Fortunately, each social media platform has its own privacy settings and safety tips for parents. Check them out before you let children have their own accounts.
- Protect from harm:Install antivirus software on family devices to minimise the risk of cyber attacks or scams. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for extra security on your online accounts. This can also stop children from signing into services they’re not allowed to use.
- Set a great example: You’re the greatest ‘influencer’ in your children’s lives when they’re young. Limiting your time online, discussing dangers you’ve come across, and questioning what you view can help reinforce the rules you are setting for your children and, in turn, influence their online behaviour.
- Seek support:The more you learn about online dangers, the better equipped you’ll be to handle them. There are some great resources like webwise.ie, internetmatters.organd cybersafekids.ie to help you recognise and reduce online dangers and seek advice if you think your child is experiencing cyberbullying or is at risk online.
This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. (more…)
Here is the advice from the Gov.ie website on when to use face coverings and how to make and wear them. You can access this information and more at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/aac74c-guidance-on-safe-use-of-face-coverings/
When to use face coverings and how to make them
From Department of Health
Published at: 15 May 2020
Last updated 20 July 2020
- 1. Cloth face coverings
- 2. How to use a cloth face covering properly
- 3. Medical face masks
- 4. Disposable gloves
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.
- 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)
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.
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.
- 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
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
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 gov.ie/Leaving 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.
- 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 https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/a4aa0-getting-my-calculated-grades-a-guide-for-students/?fbclid=IwAR3B8MaHmLr09Pnrs3MGIbMXQgv-ucWjVLY-KeTx5PsSHMRB17UDE6amoIY
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.lifestartfoundation.org
Zeeko.ie is an organisation based in University College Dublin which was set up to develop ways to keep children and young people safe online. The Zeeko team delivers internet safety workshops to pupils, teachers and parents in over 400 schools around the country every year. They are currently involved in research into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of families. If you are a parent/guardian of a child or young person under the age of 18 you are invited to take part by completing the anonymous questionnaire at the link below.
Research by Zeeko
We would be grateful if you could take 15 minutes to complete the attached ANONYMOUS QUESTIONNAIRE LINK.
Only one parent/ carer per household should answer the questionnaire. The final report will be sent to your school in January 2021.
Project objectives are:
- Identify risks and resources of families dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on family members wellbeing
- Investigate everyday family communication practices
- Define best practices that can inform families, schools, social and healthcare services, as well as digital media providers, to develop educational programmes and interventions to sustain families in the short and longer term.
We frequently share Karen Young’s posts and articles from the Hey Sigmund website. If you find them interesting and helpful you might be interested in this free online series with Karen Young and other parenting experts who are committed to a very tuned-in, positive style of parenting. The series is called Becoming an Empowered Parent and here is what Karen Young has to say about it.
Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn from the biggest influencers and top-rated experts in the parenting field. All interviews are pre-recorded, so you can watch or listen at your convenience.
Gain FREE access to this exciting and inspiring virtual series. Register through this link –
Are you thinking of toilet training your child? Is that because your child is ready or because you are under pressure to do so, perhaps because of new childcare arrangements? Here are some words of wisdom from David Coleman in the Irish Independent.
Dear David Coleman: How can I get my daughter toilet- trained in time for Montessori?
Q My daughter is two-and-a-half years old and after crèche closures in the pandemic we re-evaluated and decided that I would work less and she would attend a Montessori school instead, in September. However, she must be toilet trained before she starts – no nappies or pull-ups – and she is not interested. She says she is a baby and babies wear nappies. What is your advice?
David replies: You are in a tricky situation, since toilet-training is a developmental stage that children cannot achieve until they are ready to do so. Readiness involves showing interest in the toileting habits of others, showing interest in using the toilet themselves, knowing when a wee and poo are coming, and being able to wait until they get to a potty or toilet.
Your daughter shows none of that readiness and so training her will be a struggle that will drag on. Additionally, the external pressure of needing her to be trained to be able to go to Montessori may also add stress and anxiety to your interactions with her, that in turn may also make the training stressful and less successful.
Perhaps you may need to further rethink your plans for September. One more year at crèche will leave her more able for the demands of preschool and will allow her to toilet-train in her own time, and without the pressure of a deadline.
Even her explanation that “she is a baby” suggests that she is trying to tell you that she isn’t ready to move on yet. I think it might be wise to listen to her.
You can read more from David Coleman plus other articles on parenting issues at https://www.independent.ie/life/family/parenting/
Being outside, getting dirty, messing about, searching for bugs – things that children love and which are also good for them. Here’s more from Tanya Sweeney in the Irish Independent
Park life: Don’t be a stick in the mud and let kids be at one with nature
We already know that the benefits of getting closer to nature – emotional, physical and psychological – are manifold. From reacquainting kids with farm animals and combing the coastline for natural treasures to highlighting the importance of conservation and mucking about with mud, there are easy ways to recreate the Nature Camp.
1. Let things get mucky
The great news is that once you enter a parkland or forest, kids’ natural instincts to explore and enjoy free play kick in.
Angie Kinsella, who runs forest schools for Nature Way Education (natureway.ie), notes: “Let kids get mucky. It’s only an item of clothing. Besides, the memories they make are huge. Go looking for a squirrel’s nest. In a park or forest, make a ‘mini animal mansion’ – a little shelter with twigs or leaves, where mini creatures can hang out.”
2. Visit a farm
The country has plenty of activity farms where little ones can get hands-on experience with small animals, from chicken and piglets to lambs and goats. Airfield Estate in Dundrum has reopened (for pre-booked visits only, see airfield.ie for details), while the Wooly Wards Farm in Moneyball, Tipperary, holds events where visitors can handle the animals. Woolywoodsfarm.com has details on how to book.
3. Start a bug hunt
Find a sheet online listing the different insects you can find in a typical Irish woodland, and try to find them and tick them off the list. Likewise, there are several online resources about Irish trees. Do a mini-treasure hunt or even go searching for something as simple as a spiky leaf or a ladybird. Best of all, it’s the sort of activity that needs next to no equipment.
3. Access online resources
If you’d prefer that your days in the park, woodland or beach are a little more ‘structured’, some handy downloads are available. Get involved in a project like Seed Savers (irishseedsavers.ie), which is dedicated to preserving native fruits and vegetables, or An Taisce’s Green Schools is a great way to get kids more excited about nature.
Your local conservation group will also be able to give you plenty of pointers on how to run a good ‘camp’. The US- website Science Buddies (sciencebuddies.org) also has plenty of ideas and study aids to get you started.
4. Explore pond life
You’d be surprised how much fun stuff you’ll find in a local pond. Katie Long, owner and manager of Pine Forest Art Centre in Glencullen (pineforestartcentre.com) encourages her young workshop attendees to get up close and personal with the centre’s on-site pond.
“We collect stuff outside to use in art activities; we point out animals and we teach kids about the lifecycle of tadpoles and newts in our pond,” she explains.
5. Go foraging for food
A wealth of foodstuffs is waiting to be discovered in the great wide open, from wild garlic and dandelions to berries (especially in late summer). Buy Food For Free by Richard Mabey (€4.99 at Easons) will give you several inspirational ideas for your own family foodie adventure.
6. Make artworks
What better way to commemorate your own nature camp than creating an artwork? Collect plant specimens, leaves and twigs from your local green space and add them to text and drawings later on. Some scissors, glue and card paper will help your little ones get creative. Alternatively, a daily walk can be livened up by turning it into a photography session.
7. Incorporate technology
No doubt you’ll be keen to minimise screen time in your own personal nature camp, but sometimes it can be a great way to tap into useful information.
“Finding ways to integrate technology with the outdoors is the way forward,” says Andy Noble of the Nature Kindergarten at Park Academy Childcare in Wicklow. “Instead of demonising it, use it as a tool to help children find out more about nature and to plan fun outdoor activities such as scavenger hunts.”
Incorporating nature facts is a great way to make your scavenger hunt even more educational.
8. Learn wilderness survival skills
Take a leaf out of the ever-popular Brigit’s Garden summer camps in Galway, who are running Wilderness Survival Skills workshops this August (see brigidsgarden.ie for information). On the activity list for the five-day camp is animal tracking, cooking of wild plants, shelter and den building, knot tying and rope-swing making. Adult supervision is recommended: who knows, if you decide to stage a survival skills workshop for your little ones, you may even learn a thing or two yourself.
Find more interesting articles on parenting in the Irish Independent at https://www.independent.ie/life/family/parenting/