Entries by Hannah Murphy

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Top Tips with Children Returning to School

Child Paths are proud partners of the Adult and Child Therapy Centre. They are a multi-disciplinary team who provide a holistic service to children and their families. Over the last number of weeks, they have been preparing children for their move into Primary and Secondary school, and here is their top tips to help both children and parents have a smoother run-up to their big day.

Routine Preparation 

 

If you live close enough to your child’s school pass by it a couple of times and be positive when you see the building so that your child is familiar with the surroundings. 

  • Discuss how you might walk up to school or where you might park your car when you are dropping them off.
  • Practice classroom etiquette such as asking to go to the bathroom, sitting at a desk (you may have one at home), and practice sitting in their chair and asking for their teachers’ attention by raising their hand.  
  • Promote whole body listening – which includes a quiet body and quiet hands as well as looking and listening.
  • Encourage independence skills – hanging up a coat, putting things into and taking things out of a schoolbag, looking after personal belongings such as pencils, books, bathroom routine i.e., remembering to wash hands.
  • Practice morning routines such as news telling and what the weather is like on a particular day.
  • Layout their uniform on the first day. This will be one less thing for everyone to worry about and creates organisation in the morning routine
  • Be consistent with your morning routine. Children thrive in routine, and they will rely on you to model this behavior. Making their bed first thing in the morning begins the day well and sets them up for success in their day.
  • If your child is nervous or shy, don’t let your concerns be shown. Labeling them as quiet or even loud will mean they are more than likely always going to be this way, when in fact, starting a new school may bring out a new child.

Secondary School

 

  • Making sure that they have plenty of time – a lot of us tend to be rushing in the morning, and if a young person is feeling anxious, this can trigger their fight/flight response.
  • Practice looking at your child’s timetable with them, subject, teacher, and setting i.e., home economics room or science lab. Creating conversation around their new setting.
  • Encourage advanced planning and consistent routines (to reduce anxiety) of packing school bags the night before rather than the morning of, set a bedtime and morning alarm time,
  • Chat about the logistical differences between secondary school and primary school (e.g., teachers, moving between classrooms)
  • Homework routines – Have a shared discussion with your child regarding consistent routine for homework (ask them what works best, where they are going to do their homework, what distractions do they need to remove, and both agree to honour the routine. Allow them time after school to do something that brings their energy up so they can recharge their batteries.
  • Academic language: Your child will be encountering lots of new academic vocabulary in school e.g., discuss, describe, explain, give an example, outline, compare and contrast. Set up your child for success by discussing what these words mean and what they may suggest in terms of answer length and type of information that’s needed.  

 

Mindset

  • Modeling and encouraging a growth mindset while acknowledging difficulties:  “Change can be hard, and it takes time for us to get used to it. It is ok if you are finding this hard.”

 

Then shifting them to :

 

-“What do you know today that you didn’t know yesterday?” (it might be an organisational piece such as don’t forget your books for all three classes, or a new person’s name, or a teacher they like)

– One thing that went well today

– Something they enjoyed

 

 

One of the most positive things about secondary school is the opportunities it creates. Your primary school might have had one of two clubs or sports teams you could join but at secondary school there are clubs for every interest.

 

Allowing your child to have a varied approach to their school life by participating in various activities creates balance in their school experience. This will help create an overall more positive school experience while tapping into other areas of their personalities.

 

The above was provided by:

 

Christina Caffrey (Speech and Language Therapist) soon to be Primary School Teacher

Miriam E Mahdi (Occupational Therapist)

Aoife O’Neill (Cognitive Behavioural Specialist)

All part of the team at the Adult and Child Therapy centre.  

Just like Adult and Child Therapy, Child Paths strive to support children. Contact us today for more information!

How to lead Digital Change with Child Paths

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” These words are usually credited to the acclaimed genius Albert Einstein. Have you ever stopped and looked at what you do in your setting and look at ways to improve your business, bit by bit make small incremental changes to improve your overall service? 

 

Change can be extremely difficult for companies and individuals. COVID-19 has certainly highlighted the major benefits of using technology. You will find advice, tips, and stories from some of the thousands of Early Years practitioners, managers, and owners around the country that have rolled out Child Paths successfully. If you are thinking strongly of signing up to Child Paths you can use this document as a reference and go-to place. You can come back to it as many times as you like, each time taking another piece of advice and implementing it within your setting.

 

To get started, you must ask yourself why you should change the way you have been doing things for years. With more and more pressure put on the early years industry, something needs to happen to relieve some of the pressure. Child Paths is obviously part of the solution when it comes to paperwork, cutting down on costs, communicating with parents but more importantly it is about spending more time with the children instead of doing administration. Child Paths will help you work quicker and smarter to capture, store and showcase more of your excellent work to parents and inspectors. Can you imagine your world without all the paperwork and parents giving you and your staff more praise for the excellent work you do on a day-to-day basis? They probably don’t see this enough because you both do not have the time or the platform to showcase this, now you have.

 

But first, you need to know a change management programme requires a leader who has to be absolutely committed to it and drive the process through; that is you. Once the Owner/Manager is enthusiastic about the change, they are advocating there is a much better chance others will be. Child Paths will be a significant change to your setting, and with all such changes, you need to be clear you understand the benefits and value it will bring so you can reinforce that message to your staff. 

 

Here are some of the benefits of Child Paths you can question and discuss with your staff:

  • Do you think it will help parents feel more involved in their child’s day? 
  • Will it help cut down on paperwork eliminating day sheets/notebooks, observations etc., while saving time writing repetitive information over and over?
  • Will it act as an evidence tool for your inspectors and help with compliance?
  • Will it save money on paper, ink and photocopying?
  • Will it simplify Aistear and Siolta and act as a learning tool for staff?
  • Is it a business management tool where you can record most things in one place?
  • Will it cut down on the amount of storage?
  • Will it satisfy your customers looking for real-time peace of mind updates on their child throughout the day that your competitors can not offer?
  • Will it attract new customers looking for this latest technology to help them feel more involved in their child’s day?
 

If you can answer yes to any of the questions above you are making incremental changes that will improve different areas of your business. It will not only help you compete against other Early Years settings but also help you become more sustainable. 

 

To help you do this, you need to have somebody called a change agent. This will be the person on the ground who will manage the change in your company, whether it’s you, your Manager, your Team Leader or a staff member who is good with technology. You need somebody to be the champion of Child Paths, so they monitor, support and assist everybody. If you do not have the time, you need to delegate this responsibility to one or more people otherwise you reduce your chances of successfully using Child Paths.

You may find some resistance to change due to either wanting to do things the old way or fearing technology. People need to understand what the objective is. What this means is how the change will benefit staff. By showcasing the future, that will emerge as the result of Child Paths, will help them see why it is the right decision. This might be done through the reduction of paperwork, positive feedback from the parents on the excellent work done by the staff, or through linking Aistear and Siolta within the observations, curriculum, and milestones tools; staff will find this very easy. Expecting resistance to change and planning for it from the start will allow you to manage objections effectively. This process begins with setting a vision or a clear reason for the change and communicating it clearly and as often as possible. People need a good reason to alter their way of doing things. They need to believe and understand the reasons for doing it, and they need to see the potential benefits for themselves and the company as a whole.  

There are different ways an Owner or Manager can do this. Still, the main thing is you need to be honest with the staff about the company and what is happening to the industry, which they are fully aware of in terms of sustainability and what other Early Year’s settings are doing about the pressure the industry is under. If, for example, other settings in your area are going down the digital route, they are making changes because it will benefit different areas of their business, so they’re gaining a competitive advantage over their competition. Something has to change to combat various changes in the industry. 

To overcome the resistance to change, we recommend the following:

·       Be very clear about the change to staff and why you are changing

·       Consult your staff regularly and get their input so they feel part of the change

·       Support, understand, and try to address their concerns

·       Understand that they are used to doing things the old way, and this will be a change to their routine, but in the long term it will benefit everybody, owners, managers, staff, parents, inspectors and most importantly the children.

Another vital step is to establish a sense of urgency which is crucial to creating the momentum and igniting the motivation that will get all your staff using the Child Paths correctly and consistently from the beginning. The most effective way of persuading your staff that change is working is to make sure that some results are almost immediately visible. Nothing is more motivating than evidence of success. Find a result as early as possible that will allow people to see that the change has a positive effect; this could be through removing the paperwork.

You need to have some short-term targets/goals which map the way to the result. What we recommend is:

 

  • removing the day sheets after the first week
  • going live with the parents after the second week
  • doing their first observation after the third/fourth week and so on 

 

That will show clearly that the change is working and you are not overwhelming them with change, and it is done bit by bit until everybody is confident and comfortable using the software. Some staff may need extra support and time to get up to speed with the software, so it is crucial to identify who those people are and offer support. Quick wins are essential to get buy-in from the staff and to ensure motivation and momentum keep going. These wins, when achieved, should be repeated as often as possible to as many people as possible to show that those results are not only achievable but have been reached. Manage your staff’s expectations about what should be achieved and what you expect from them. If they do not know what they have to do, how will they do it?

 

Just to give you an example of one setting in Wicklow that has roughly 80 children. We trained them on a Wednesday in their setting, and on Friday, they rang looking to go live to the parents. We asked them to hold off as we assumed it was too early as they had been only using the software for two days really. When we did a performance review where we go in and check how each room (staff members) are using the software, we were delighted to see they were using it exceptionally well. They were documenting every area on the tablet, which was previously done on paper. They had loads of great photos of what the children were learning and creating rather than just pictures of the children themselves. As they had no children’s faces in lots of the photos, they were able to send those pictures to all the parents, so they showcased what the children had done that day through photographs. They were able to select all children in the room and upload the photos in one go and click send. Again with activities, they used the software efficiently by only adding the activities in blocks/groups, one block in the morning, another early afternoon, and another group of activities late afternoon. They were using the communication area to discuss what the children were learning. 

What Works

They did a fantastic job rolling out the software, and within the first two weeks, they had most of their parents using the software. We don’t expect everybody to go live to parents within two days; however, this is an excellent example of how it is possible to be using the software correctly, consistently, and enjoying the benefits after two days if it’s correctly managed. However, it is necessary to have somebody to lead, support, and assist in the beginning. They micromanaged the process from the start. What I mean is they monitored very early how the staff were using the software, showed them the correct way, supported them with any questions or concerns, and ensured that everything they were doing with pen and paper was on the software correctly.

We recommend you have regular meetings and brainstorming sessions with the staff to all share their thoughts and what they find easy or hard. This is where your staff will help each other by sharing how they do things better or quicker. You need to ask the staff do they see themselves doing all this paperwork and more that will come in the next few years. If the answer is no, well, then they need to know it’s happening now. The company can not sit and wait years before they make changes, it needs to happen as soon as possible, and their buy-in to the process is critical. The Owner/Manager needs to get people thinking and talking about the need for change. Communication is essential to the success of Child Paths in your setting. The Owner/Manager needs to communicate frequently and forcefully as it needs to be repeated over and over before it entirely filters down the change is happening for the right reasons. It needs to come from the top to everybody so nobody hears the information incorrectly and can make their assumptions. Make sure you communicate clearly, and it is understood by everybody as they need to understand the reasoning behind it. This must come from the Owner, Managers, and Team Leaders, and everybody has to be onside together if this is to be successful. Half the battle is having people around you that will in themselves simply change the culture, have an influence over others, and be committed to the changes ahead. This team will help spread the communication of change and maintain the necessary momentum to see it through. 

It is very important the staff remain consistent in their work. Just because you see some good results early does not mean they can take their foot off the gas. It is important they keep the same level of communication with parents. They need to ensure they are meeting their regulatory requirements when it comes to inspections, and again the Owner/Managers/Team Leaders need to reinforce this message over and over again otherwise, it will end up failing. When new staff starts, make sure they are trained and supported by the staff you class as a Super User/Change Agent, somebody who knows the system inside out. Sharing experiences and processes from room to room is an excellent quick way of improving both efficiencies and confidence using the software. It is essential to support those finding the change difficult and let them know you and the rest of the team are there to help anytime. The sign that Child Paths has become a success is when the change stops being a process. It becomes a core part of the business; it’s culture and your working day where it becomes natural, and everybody uses it instinctively in the new way of working without even noticing.

 

Let’s Recap


You need to speak with all staff and get their input and feedback. Share quick wins and better ways of using the software between each room. Have some brainstorming sessions/meetings in the first few weeks, and remember to delegate, so you do not take too much control. Otherwise, it will eat into your own time. Change can be challenging and not easy to bring about however, with the right level of commitment from the Owners, Managers, and Team Leaders, it will become a huge success. Micro-Management, in the beginning, is critical. If you put the time and effort in for the first few weeks, your staff will be committed, confident and competent using Child Paths which will allow you to go back to dealing with your day to day duties. Remember, we are here for you every step of the way, and that includes after you have rolled out to parents. It is just the beginning of what we are creating, and we would be delighted to have you with us on this journey.

 

Please speak with one of our team today to see how Child Paths can help transform your business. 

 

 

Top 10 Places to Visit in Ireland this Summer

Happy summer holidays to all our customers out there! While we are sure you are delighted to have the children home to spend more time with them, we at Child Paths understand the struggle it is at times to keep them entertained. That is why we have done our research, and we have picked out 10 amazing places you can bring the children this summer to keep them entertained, but most importantly, create those special summer memories with them. These destinations numbered 1 to 10 are in no way a ranking order; they are all equally worthwhile!

1. Castlecomer Discovery Park, Co. Kilkenny

Did someone say educational and fun? That is exactly what Castlecomer Discovery park has to offer. This fun activity park sits on the site of what was once known as the Wandesford Estate and a coal mine that lasted over 300 years. Bring the kids to see what was once coal mines as an educational element, then allow them to have endless fun on all the outdoor activities the park has to offer such as the Octagon and Zip Wire! Do not forget it is home to Ireland’s longest zip line. It is 300 metres long and 35 metres over the ground at its highest point. Visitors can zip over the stunning woodland, two lakes, and 17th-century hand-restored bridge (how cool!). The majority of the park is dog friendly, so don’t forget to bring the pooch for a dip in the lake! For more information, please visit their website: https://www.discoverypark.ie/ 

 

We are delighted to be teaming up with Castlecomer Discovery Park in Co. Kilkenny as part of Top 10 Places to Visit in Ireland this Summer. They have kindly offered all our customers 10% off when booking the Octagon & Zipwire package, normally €27 – suitable for 12+ The code is ChildPaths10 and can be used only for online booking – www.discoverypark.ie/bookinig Running for a limited time only! From today to the 7th of July 2021. (T&C’s apply) 

2. Glendalough, Co. Wicklow.

Wicklow is indeed not called the Garden County for nothing! Glendalough is arguable one of the most picturesque places in the world, let alone Ireland. Set in the tranquil Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough caters to all ages and walking abilities. There is also a beautiful lake where you can bring the children to dip their feet into for a splash to cool down after visiting the famous Round Tower on the way. While there is a food truck near the lake, we recommend you bring a picnic to avoid the long queues and to take in the beautiful surroundings!

3. Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare

A must-see with the children this summer! Suitable for all ages and walking abilities. Children will love seeing all the different birds flying in and out of the cliffs, and of course, the parents will love the magnificent views. A perfect place to take the annual family picture! Please be aware, to get the full views of the cliffs; there is quite a steep hill that may be difficult to get up with a buggy. However, you will be sure to see some incredible views without going up the steep hill. What makes this place so special is the traditional Irish buskers that often play their instruments; it really makes you feel that Irish pride!

4. Moher Hill Farm, Co. Clare

 We just had to include this gem of a place, especially if you have the children with you. Only a stone’s throw from the Cliffs of Moher, we are convinced your children will love this place. Children can feed and pet many of their favorite animals. However, there is so much more to do here to keep the children entertained for hours, such as; ball pool, all-weather outdoor play area, miniature golf course, and of course, the all-important bouncing castle! For more information, please visit their website: www .moherfarm.com

5. Trabolgan Holiday Village, Co. Cork

This place is a kid’s heaven. Suitable for all ages, and there is sure to be something here for everyone to enjoy, from toddler to Nana. Trabolgan is set in a tranquil wood in East Cork. It has many activities and outdoor adventures for the children to explore. This is the perfect place for walks, looking at nature, or even building a sandcastle with their newly opened beach! For more information, please click on the link: https://trabolgan.com/

6. Tayto Park, Co. Meath

What is better than Tayto Crisp? A Tayto fun park! You will have to check out this incredible fun park in Ashburn this summer that is sure to give Disneyland a run for its money. With a Theme Park and a Zoo on site, it is sure to be a big hit with the family this summer. For more information and how to book tickets, please click on the link: https://taytopark.ie/

7. Rathwood, Co. Carlow

This place has it all and something for everyone in the family. First of all, it has a fantastic award-winning garden centre where you could spend hours if you were not with the children of course. However, you may find it hard to even get a look into the garden centre once the children see the fantastic amenities outside for them. From a maze in the shape of Ireland, to a Deer Park and their famous woodland train, you could spend hours of fun here. There is a beautiful on-site restaurant to make sure everyone is all fed and happy heading home. For more information, please click on the link below: https://www.baby-and-child.com/woodlands-train

8. Funtasia Theme Parks, Co. Louth

 If you are looking for somewhere where the children can play for hours on end, Funtasia is the solution for you. This place has endless facilities to enjoy, from the impressive waterpark, fully equipped with fun water slides, bowling, zip lines, Eureka Flying Cars, Arcade, and much more. We can assure you that the only hard thing will be to get the children back in the car to go home. For more information and to book tickets, please click on the link: https://www.funtasia.ie/

9. The National Reptile Zoo, Co. Kilkenny

Are any of your children Dinosaur enthusiasts or have a great love for animals? If so, you have to bring them to Irelands only reptile zoo in county Kilkenny. If you or the children are feeling brave, you will even be allowed to touch or hold some of their scaly friends. It is definitely a once in a lifetime experience, and the children will be sure to talk about it for days after. For more information, please click on the link below: https://www.nationalreptilezoo.ie

10. Hunt for the Grufflo, Co. Donegal

If you are up in the beautiful Donegal, a visit to Colin Glen Forest to The Gruffalo Trail for a bit of family fun is highly recommended. The children can follow in the Mouse’s footsteps throughout the forest and be greeted with a silly old fox, owl, and snake while they are on the way. This park is free so a great fun adventure to do if it’s a holiday on a budget.

We would love to see some of the summer adventures you go on over the summer with

our Top 10 Lists. Be sure to tag us so we can see your holiday snaps!

Remember, with Aistear, it is all about Practitioners understanding more about the child outside of the setting. These day trips are an excellent way to share some of those photos to create important conversations. 

We wish you all a safe and happy summer. Bring on the sunshine and popsicles!

If there is anything we can help you with call us today!

We are always happy to help!