St. Thomas' J.N.S.

All about First and Second Class

All about First and Second Class

This page is designed to give parents information and tips to help their child at home.

There is a new primary curriculum currently being introduced to all primary schools in Ireland.

The curriculum is presented in seven areas, some of which are further subdivided into subjects. These are:

  1. Language: Gaeilge and English
  2. Mathematics
  3. Social, environmental and scientific education (SESE): history, geography and science
  4. Arts education: visual arts, music and drama
  5. Physical education
  6. Social, personal and health education (SPHE)
  7. Religious or ethical education is the responsibility of the different school patron bodies.

More information about the new curriculum is available here

"The What Why and How of children's learning in primary school" booklet published by the NCCA explains what your child learns in school, how your child learns and why he/she learns in this way.

The NCCA website provides excellent information to parents.

We have included some of this information from the NCCA website onto this page under the relevant subject areas. This page also contains information about school programmes, homework and useful websites that can be used at home with your child.

Shared Reading Programme

Shared Reading is exactly what it sounds like – It is a time for sharing a story and reading together. Your child will select a new book every day which is to be brought home and read by parent/guardian. Pick a place that is quiet and comfortable.

During Shared Reading children should be encouraged to:

  • Discuss the book, cover, title and pictures
  • Track print from left to right and word by word with parent/guardian
  • Make predictions about the story
  • Retell the story
  • Discuss likes and dislikes based on the stories
  • Praise your child whenever possible.

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Note: Please ensure that your child brings their book and signed record sheet in their folder to school each day.

A standard charge of 10 euro for mislaid/badly damaged books must be paid to the class teacher.


Your child learns to examine, understand and solve problems with the Mathematics Curriculum. In First and second class children continue to work with real objects like blocks, cubes, crayons, counters, coloured shapes, sand and water and build their knowledge and understanding of new content in:

  • Number (including counting, comparing and ordering, learning about place value, adding and subtracting numbers and working with fractions)
  • Algebra (including exploring and using patterns, for example, odd and even numbers or adding ten to a given number)
  • Measurement (including working with length, weight, capacity, time and money)
  • Shape and space (including working with 3-D shapes and 2-D shapes and angles)
  • Data (including understanding, interpreting and making charts and graphs).

Your child builds on what he/she has learned in the infant classes as he/she works with patterns, measurement, shape and space and data. Your child now works with bigger numbers and so learns about place value, meaning that a number like 14 is made up of 1 ten and 4 units.

You can help your child to learn at home by:

  • helping your child to break numbers into tens and units by setting out a number of objects like crayons or pencils and using elastic bands to group objects together into bundles of ten. Help him/her to see that any objects that are left over are units
  • encouraging your child to estimate by, for example, asking him/her to think about and guess how many steps it might take to get to a particular point while out on a walk. Stop halfway through and ask if he/she wants to change his/her guess. You can also ask your child to estimate whether a bag of flour is heavier than a bag of potatoes you have in the kitchen and check his/her estimate by weighing the objects.

Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE)

In SESE (history, geography and science) your child continues to learn from his/her immediate environment. Children may explore the history of building in the community such as their school, discuss how different people in the community help them or observe the seasonal changes in trees and plant life in the local area. Using investigative skills encourages the budding Scientist, Historian and Geographer in your child. Such skills include questioning, observing, predicting, investigating and experimenting, estimating and measuring, classifying and recording and communicating.

You can help your child to learn at home by;

  • helping your child to observe and investigate at home, for example, grow seeds and bulbs, or test how long it takes to do certain activities, or investigate whether materials are magnetic or not
  • encouraging your child to explain to you about topics he/she has been working with in science, history and geography. Children remember what they have learned by having the chance to explain their learning to another person.


Arts Education

In arts education (visual arts, music and drama) your child continues to have many opportunities to be creative and to develop his/her imagination through art activities, music and drama. The focus is not so much on the work your child produces (the product) but on what your child learns by engaging in creativity (the process). In first and second class, your child continues to explore and experiment in art and music and has many opportunities for taking part in imaginative and dramatic play. This curriculum area encourages your child to listen to, look at and respond to the music, artwork and dramatic expression of others in the class, as well as in the work of older children and adults.

You can help your child to learn at home by:

  • listening to different types of music during car journey or while doing jobs at home. Ask your child whether he/she likes the songs or piece of music and allow him/her to decide what music he/she would like to listen to
  • encouraging your child to use a range of tools such as crayons, paints, playdough, pens, pencils , glue, old fabrics and so on, to express him/herself artistically
  • watching children’s drama on television with your child to see films, plays, concerts and art exhibitions in the community and talking about what they have seen and their response to it.

Physical Education

Physical Education provides your child with further opportunities to learn important social skills through physical activity. Your child is increasingly able to use his/her body in different ways and can now take part in small-sided versions of adult team games such as basketball or Gaelic football and in co-operative games. Through participating in a range of physical activities, children learn to improve their own performance and do choose the types of activities they will enjoy in their personal lives. Your child participates in different physical activities such as:

  • Athletics (including running, jumping and throwing)
  • Dance (including exploring, creating and performing dance)
  • Gymnastic (including balancing, moving in different directions and in sequence alone with others and moving using apparatus such as mats and benches)
  • Games (including ball handling, kicking, carrying and striking, and playing small sided versions of games)

You can help your child to learn at home by:

  • encouraging your child to be active at home, for example, walking, jumping, running, playing games and taking part in local sports activities which will help your child to develop a sense of belonging to the community.
  • encouraging your child to make up and play games with other children and discuss the needs for rules and deciding on team strategies.

Social, Person and Health Education (SPHE)

Social, Personal and Health Education, or SPHE, deals with your child’s personal development, health and well being. SPHE helps your child to learn and develop a sense of responsibility for his/her actions. He/she also learns how to respect and relate to others and how to deal with feelings. SPHE includes Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) – an important part of all children’s development. Each school has an RSE policy which outlines what will be taught in RSE and when certain content will be introduced. The SPHE curriculum helps your child to care for him/herself, for example, through learning about the importance of food for growth, health and energy and through discussing and practising appropriate strategies for keeping safe. He/she is encouraged to develop growing independence. Your child also learns to develop a sense of place in school and local community, to care for the local and wider environment and to become familiar with and more critical of different types of information media.

You can help your child to learn at home by:

  • talking to your child about different issues which affect him/her, such as relationships with family and friends, what is happening in school and keeping safe. Through discussion help your child to find ways of dealing with problems such as making up with a friend after a row or dealing with unsafe situations. Through such discussions, your child will learn that he/she can talk to you about anything
  • giving your child opportunities to be independent and to make decisions such as when to do homework, what to do with pocket money and what to play and do when friends are visiting. Talk to your child and encourage him/her to review these decisions in order to make thoughtful choices.
  • encouraging healthy eating habits through providing a healthy lunch for school and at other mealtimes. Breakfast is a particularly important meal as it starts your child on a healthy day.


It is the policy of St. Thomas' Junior School to assign homework on a regular basis in 1st and 2nd class. The time taken will vary from child to child but in most cases should take between 15 and 30 minutes. Parents should sign the homework journal to confirm that the work has been fully attempted. Homework is not given at weekends. Homework is generally revision of and follow-up to work your child has done in class. If your child has a difficulty with their homework please inform the class teacher.

Rationale for Homework

Homework in our school helps pupils to…

  • consolidate what they learn during the day
  • become independent learners
  • create a habit of after-school study
  • extend their learning (senior classes) e.g. individual/group projects

Homework in our school provides an opportunity for parents/guardians to:

  • become actively involved in their child’s learning
  • become more aware of how their child’s learning progression.

Homework in our school provides class teachers with an opportunity to:

  • assess pupil learning
  • assess pupil independence when learning
  • extend learning
Esker, Lucan, Co. Dublin, Ireland
01 628 2691
RCN: 20204514
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