Don’t try to 'teach' them anything that doesn’t happen naturally in their day. The first year of school is not so much about cognitive skills (e.g. reading or writing) but about socialisation.
Socialisation is the name educationalists give to the social skills development process that children face throughout their school lives. It is sometimes also referred to as ‘the hidden curriculum’.
Examples of socialisation in naíonáin bheaga would be realising that they have to be quiet at certain times and listen to commands, that they should be able take off their coats and leave them in a specific place, that they will have to share games and resources, that they cannot monopolise the teaching staff.
How can we help to prepare them for this?
Much of their reaction depends on their own experience to date. We can help by encouraging social skills - e.g.
Do we encourage our children to listen e.g. songs on tape at home or in the car, or that we sing along with them (Yes – even Barney has his uses)? Gearóid MacLochlainn has a lot of useful and fun tapes for this age group. Also look on
http://naionrai.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/aiseanna-leabhair/ for sources.
Do we have established boundaries of behaviour and chain of authority?
Does our child know how to talk – i.e. take turns in a conversation and not ‘break in’ all the time?
Do we read to our children – either at bedtime or as a day activity, and allow discussion of the story and the pictures?
Do we say rhymes or sing songs with them?
Maybe you could start with a little rhyme such as the one below, and point to the body parts at the same time.
Súil,súil eile a haon a dó (put fingers over each eye in turn)
Cluas, cluas eile, a haon, a dó (put hands on each ear in turn)
Ceann (point to head)
Srón (point to nose)
Béal (point to mouth)
Smig (point to chin)
Is fiacla geala ‘mo bhéal istig’. (run fingers over teeth)