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St. Mary's Primary School, 123 Granemore Road Tassagh Armagh


Tue 17th March 2020

Dear Nursery Parents,

During these uncertain times, routine is key for your child.  With that in mind, I would recommend telling your child that although they are not in school, they will still continue to ‘work hard’ as if they were at school.  Every family situation will be very different, but I suggest allocating a period of time (ideally morning) where ‘learning’ will take place – share this ‘routine’ with your child so as they know what to expect.  This will continue to assist them with their Personal, Social and Emotional Development (coping with routines and changes). 

A typical day might look like this:

9:30 Morning Prayer followed by Indoor play

10:30 Snack time followed by tidy-up time and nursery rhymes

11:00 Outdoor play

12:00 Lunch

12:30 Ipad time

1:00 Story time

 But again, to reiterate, this is only an idea and you must do what will work for your family bearing in mind that there is no right or wrong way to ‘homeschool’ children.

Our theme this month is ‘animals’ and although we would have play tasks set up to reflect this theme, children still very much have free choice to play with toys of their choosing.  That said, in keeping with our theme you could set up a farm / farmer’s mart / zoo / safari for your child using any small animals that you may have.  


This aspect of your child’s learning can be promoted through encouraging them to tidy up after themselves and put all toys / activities away.  At snack time, their independence can be further promoted through encouraging them to butter their own toast etc, pour their own drink, wash and dry their own plate.  Try to encourage your child to do as much for themselves as they can in terms of opening and closing things, dressing / undressing.  Although in busy households, the fastest approach is to ‘do things for them’,  your child has come such a long way in developing independence and during this time we would hope to maintain, if not, build on these skills so please try to promote independence, where possible.

Also remind your child that the same rules of nursery such as sharing / turn taking and kind hands, kind mouths and kind feet apply at home. Praise when you see evidence of this.  Encourage your child to say sorry / forgive, during incidents where kindness has not been used. 


Early Reading

Ensure there are books available and within reach for your child.  Maybe even set out specific books about animals so that your child can ’read’ if they wish.  Try and take time to read a story

to your child each day and ask them questions about what you have read, so as they can work on recalling events.

Conversational Skills

Whilst we don’t want to interrupt children’s natural play, do take time to ask your child about what they are doing.  You can even extend their game by joining in and role modelling language.  For example, if your child is ‘driving a tractor’, you might ask him if he is driving to the mart, how many cows is he going to buy /sell etc or if your child is playing ‘babies’ you could role model talking to the baby and singing a nursery rhyme before putting it down for a nap.  You could further develop their language by asking ‘when’ questions such as when did you last feed the baby? Or ‘where’ questions such as ‘where is the cow’.  If your child responds with ‘there’, you can extend their language by using phrases such as, ‘oh the cow is in the field / beside the horse / behind the fence / under the tree etc.

Listening Skills

You can develop your child’s listening skills by reading short stories to them but also through giving simple one-step (put the baby in bed / put the cow in the field) or two-step instructions (put the cow in the field and the horse in the shed).


Those children who enjoy sensory activities have enjoyed making ‘muck’ for animals using cocoa powder, flour and water and have had endless fun ‘rolling’ animals about in basins of ‘muck’.  Pulling a chair up to the sink and giving your child some containers to fill/empty/pour etc is also another therapeutic activity that many will enjoy.  There are lots of maths opportunities as you can give them different sized spoons, yoghurt pots etc and encourage them to count how many it will take to fill a bottle etc.  You could even consider adding some food colouring to the water and encourage your child to make ‘medicine’ for the corona virus.  How many bottles have they made?  How many spoonfuls would someone have to take etc?  Screwing / unscrewing bottle caps will help develop their hand muscles also and to promote writing as you could get them to write labels for what they have made.

Playdough is another great resource for children and can be easily made at home or picked up in Home Bargains.  This resource helps develop their imagination, as the possibilities of what they can create or endless but it also supports the development of their fine motor skills.

You could also provide your child with junk materials such as toilet roll holders, boxes etc and encourage them to create models (beanstalk / pig sty / hen house etc).  In addition, try to ensure that children have easy access to materials such as markers, crayons, colouring pencils and paper so that they can draw and colour.  Remember to praise their work and ask them tell you about what they have drawn.  Display their work if you can so as to increase the sense of pride they feel or even encourage them to put it somewhere safe, so that they can bring it into show their teacher when we return to school.  Write their name for them and encourage them to copy but remember it is perfectly fine that their attempt at writing may look nothing like letters – still praise the effort.


Children will continue to develop their sense of time, if daily routines are made clear to them and adhered too.  Currently children establish a sense of ‘days of the week’ by working out school days and ‘home days’ on a Saturday and Sunday – this sense of timing will be gone as everyday will be at home, therefore continue to reinforce the days of the week; Encourage counting as much as possible and not just during their ‘playtime’ but throughout the day.  How many plates, how many people for lunch?  How many cups do we need? How many cows are there?  You could provide children with food bags and cotton wool and ask them to fill three bags for Baa Baa Black Sheep, or use items such as pasta / rice etc and ask children to put 1 / 2/ 3 / 4 / 5 spoonfuls into a bowl / food bag etc.  Activities such as this, reinforce number awareness, hand-eye coordination and as they use ‘real life’ items are sure to keep your child busy for a lengthy period of time.  You can change the activity up by changing the size of spoon etc.


Gross Motor Skills

Continue to encourage your child’s physical development as much as possible, through dancing to music, moving their body in various ways; running, skipping, hopping, jumping.  Provide opportunities for them to ‘cross the mid line’ through putting objects slightly out of reach on their non-dominant side (so for a right-handed child, put the object slightly out of reach on their left-hand side). Encourage them to kick/throw a ball and use wheeled equipment.

Fine Motor Skills

Provide paper for your child to rip, tape one side of paper to a table and encourage your child to cut it, provide jigsaw puzzles and writing tools.

Most importantly, remember that this will be a confusing time for your child as suddenly the routine and settings that they have become accustomed to have totally changed.  Be patient with them and as previously mentioned try to establish a routine that will work for you all.  Limit screentime where possible but if you are going to use it for limited amounts, access nursery rhymes on ‘youtube’ or maths games for children aged 3-5 on the ‘topmarks’ website.  Read often and talk lots to your child.

Yours Sincerely, 

Miss O’Callaghan