What do children think about play? Do they see it as an opportunity to learn? Here is what the researchers at the Child and Family Blog https://www.childandfamilyblog.com/child-development/children-learn-through-play/ found out.
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/
Here are some great ideas for family activities from The Genesis Programme’s booklet ‘Supporting Parents and Families through summer 2020. You will also find information on low cost days out, social and emotional development, mindfulness for parents and children, summer routines, managing anxiety and much, much more. See the PDF below or download it at https://flyingstart.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Supporting-Parents-and-Families-through-Summer-2020-The-Genesis-Programme-FINAL_compressed.pdf
More ideas for you and your family
- Revisiting traditional games such as draughts, chess, card games, board games etc.
- Make mealtimes a family event and involve everybody in the preparation. See our nutrition
websites at the bottom of this page for easy and affordable meals that the whole family can try. Nevin Maguire one of Ireland top chefs is also offering to send recipes out to families who get in touch https://www.facebook.com/macneanhouse/
- Maybe you could even take advantage of the time to give the garden a makeover and involve the whole family in the process. Gardening and painting is very therapeutic for parents and children alike. Connecting with nature can have a positive impact on you and your family’s mental wellbeing.
- Train to be Ireland’s Fittest Family! Whether this is by making an indoor or outdoor obstacle course or following one of the many online Fitness Expert on YouTube. Exercising together is a great way to keep the mind and body healthy. Check out the following online resources for fun physical routines that the whole family will enjoy:
- Daily PE for Children and Adults with Joe Wicks https://www.thebodycoach.com/blog/pe-with-joe-1254.html
- Super Troopers also offers a healthy homework programme that encourages an active lifestyle https://www.supertroopers.ie/
- If you have the space, try to play as many outdoor games as possible hail, rain or snow. Embrace nature and all of its elements. Frisbee, tennis, football and catch are just a few outdoor sports that the family can enjoy together.
- Get Crafty! Arts and crafts is a fun way to be kind to the planet and make use of recyclable materials. Try to be creative as possible. Having time to put on your thinking cap can result in amazing pieces of art. For more ideas of how to get crafty with recyclable materials you can visit: https://fiveminutemum.com/
- Have an old-fashioned family movie night. With the newest technology such as Netflix and Smart TV, movies may not be as special for some families as they once were. Try to recreate the excitement and try to pick some old classics accompanied by popcorn and homemade healthy pizza.
- Technology is part of our everyday life. As parents, we know that limiting screen time is essential, as too much can have adverse effects on our children’s physical and mental health. However, we can embrace screen time also and be selective about how we do this. Now organisations like Dublin Zoo are trying to reach out to families via their online platforms.
- Why not have your children learn about Feeding Time in the Zoo by following the link at http://www.dublinzoo.ie/animals/animal-webcams/
- Another similar site you can try is http://www.switcheroozoo.com/
- Listen to music as a family. Take the opportunity to share with your children and teenagers your taste in music. You never know they could love Bowie as much you.
- Encourage your children to be reflective and write just for the fun of it. Maybe they could be Ireland’s next young author.
- The well-known children’s author Sarah Webb is also running just-for-fun writing workshops via her Twitter count @ SarahWebb
One of the skills from the Parents Plus Parenting programmes which parents say makes the biggest difference in their family life is learning how to ‘press the pause button’. Essentially pressing the pause button means committing to something different, rather than repeating a negative pattern. This is what John Sharry and Carol Fitzpatrick, the authors of the programme, have to say about it.
Pressing the pause button
When faced with an ongoing problem it is easy to get caught in a pattern of reacting the same way each time. Sometimes our reactions may not be helpful and can even make the problem worse. A good idea is to press the pause button to think of a better way of responding.
1. Press the pause button
Take a step back
- Take a step back from how you normally react, especially if you find yourself getting angry or negative.
Be calm and respectful
- Although hard to do in the heat of the moment, it is important to remain calm. When you remain in control you show your child how you want him to behave.
- Take a pause and a gentle breath if you find yourself getting annoyed.
2. ‘Tune in’ to what is happening
Why children misbehave
- Children misbehave for a whole variety of reasons, such as looking for attention, expressing frustration or hurt, or wanting to take control.
- Sometimes it can occur as part of a battle of wills or a power struggle between you and your child when you both want your own way.
- Sometimes misbehaviour occurs in an ongoing situation such as a child feeling jealous of a younger sibling or because a child is struggling at school.
- Children with special needs may act out more simply because they do not have the same level of language and attention as their peers, or because they find specific situations difficult, for example, when their routine changes. Take time to tune in to your child’s stage of development
Example – ‘Tuning in’ during a tantrum
Rather than reacting if your son starts to throw a tantrum, pause and tune in to understand what he might be feeling so you can decide the best way to respond.
- If your child is tired maybe he needs you to soothe him and help him take a break
- If he is upset and frustrated maybe he needs you to appreciate his feelings and distract him with something else
- If he is angry and wants to get his own way maybe it is best not to give in to him, to ignore his protests and wait until he calms down
- If you are feeling stressed maybe it is best to pull back for a minute yourself and take a few deep breaths before returning to deal with him
3. Make a plan
- Think ahead and make a plan about how you will deal with this problem
- What is the best way to respond? What has worked well in the past?
You can find more useful tips and information from Parents Plus here https://www.parentsplus.ie/parents/tips-and-information/
Here is a great article from the Irish Times about the Parents Plus programmes https://www.parentsplus.ie/news/parents-plus-programmes-are-devised-for-and-with-irish-parents/