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Early Start Overview

The Early Start pilot pre-school programme sees learning as a guided discovery through a series of structured activities aimed at the whole development of the child.  This particular programme makes language and numeracy skills a priority.  The aim in Early Start is to aid the transition into the formal education system.  Each class, of which there are two, comprises 15 children who are aged between 3 years and 4 years 7 months on or before 1st September of the year of enrolment (in line with the ECCE Scheme).  There are 2 professionals in each classroom i.e. 1 fully qualified primary school teacher and 1 qualified childcare worker.  Each session lasts two and a half hours.

The children in Early Start are evaluated through an informal profiling system based on skills acquired through the Early Start programme.  Some of these skills include fine and gross motor skills, language skills, constructive skills.  This is completed at the beginning and the end of the school year.  Colour and shape testing is carried out each term.

The structure of the day centres around ‘learning through play’.  Some of this is non-directed e.g. Free play.  Most of the activities are adult directed structured activities.  The children’s day therefore normally involves;


  • Free play e.g. playing in the home corner, imaginative play, construction, stacking, sorting etc.
  • Sand and water play
  • Playdough activities
  • Threading beads/sequencing
  • Painting/Art and Craft
  • Story time
  • Circle-time i.e. Talk-time (children gather in a circle and discuss news, play language games, learn new Irish words/phrases, sing and say songs and rhymes, learn colours, learn new prayers, explore new themes such as Under the Sea, In the Jungle, Fruit and Vegetables, Seasons and Holidays, Continents, The Solar System, The Farm, Occupations etc.)
  • Colouring
  • Gross motor play
  • Lunchtime (lunch provided)
  • Table-top activities e.g. jigsaws, construction, sorting, matching, pre-writing, pre-maths etc.

The resources in the Early Start fall under the following categories:-


  • Creative Role
  • Role Play
  • Construction
  • Pre-Maths
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Arts and Music
  • Auditory
  • Visual Discrimination
  • Physical Discrimination


Parental Involvement:


Parents are involved in Early Start through parental activities such as stories, cooking, art/crafts etc. in the classroom. Parents are met regularly in the morning and afternoons at drop off and formally through parent/teacher meetings. Class Dojo is used as a two-way communication system. Newsletters are distributed monthly. Parents accompany children on out of school activities.


The parents are also involved at home when the children get their homework (a jigsaw/game and a book every Thursday and a rhyme per week for a number of weeks).  The parents practise this homework with their child for the week. Parents are afforded the opportunity to be involved in activities as field trips, Santa visit, fun days, sports days, school concert and graduation day.

Parents can avail of the huge support of experts coming to the school in conjunction with the HSCL teacher for a variety of courses e.g. parenting, leisure and courses of parental choice.  They also build great links with and become very familiar with the HSCL teachers of the schools in our parish i.e. the local boys, girls and secondary schools.

We work very closely with the Home School Community Liaison Teacher which reinforces the importance of community partnership, an integral part of the Early Start Scheme.


Aims of Early Start:


  • To expose your children to an educational programme which will enhance their overall development and prevent school failure to offset the effects of social disadvantage.
  • To enhance the children’s language, cognitive, social, emotional and physical development by engaging them in structured play activities which are characterised by high quality adult child interaction.
  • To assess the strengths and needs of each child in relation to language cognition and social-emotional development, and to plan and deliver a programme of learning to meet the identified needs in these key areas of learning.
  • To devise strategies which actively engage parents in the education of their children.
  • To aid the smooth transition into the formal education system.
  • To assist Parents/Guardians engage with external agencies and to put in place the appropriate supports/pathways as deemed necessary in screening/assessment recommendations.


Click here to be directed to our online application form


Click here to view our Early Start Policy



Rachel Uí FhlannabhraPrincipal

Deirdre ScullyDeputy Principal

Nora DoolanChairperson BOM


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