In Ardee Library on Friday 18th October 2019, The Genesis Programme launched Flying Start – a new framework supporting children, parents and professionals on the key transitions that happen in the first five years of a child’s life.
Professor Emer Smyth from the Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) and an expert in transitions gave the keynote address during which she said ‘most children settle into primary school easily but some children face greater challenges. Positive relationships between teachers and students play a crucial role in easing difficulties’.
The Flying Start website www.flyingstart.ie outlines this framework and provides information and support across three definitive transition stages:
1. The Transition to Parenthood
2. The Transition to Early and Learning and Care
3. The Transition to Primary School
Included in the Flying Start framework is a revamped Little Steps to Big School programme that was originally developed by Louth Leader Partnership, Louth County Childcare Committee and Dundalk Institute of Technology in 2012.This has a wealth of interactive and dynamic resources for parents and professionals.
The development of Flying Start has parents and children at the core but it will also be a very useful resource for professionals working with children and their families.
Transitions are a natural and normal part of growth and development. The first five years of a child’s life are full of changes, from being expectant parents’ right through to waving your child off on the first day of primary school. These changes all come with a degree of uncertainty. Flying Start supports parents, children and professionals in making the first five years of a child’s life an enjoyable and fulfilling experience.
Dara Young, a parent from Ardee said in relation to Preparing for Parenthood: ‘I didn’t know what was going to come, what was going to happen. I had a lot of pressure on myself because I was younger. At the time, I did not have a degree, I only had a brand new job and I did not know what the future held for me. I had questions like ‘how do I sort out childcare?’
However, there was support available to Dara and she would encourage other young parents to do any programmes they can: ‘I met Lucy Maguire from the Teen Parent Programme. She listened to me, supported me and helped me figure things out. Join any programmes you can. I found the Incredible Years Parent and Baby Programme brilliant after I had my baby. I met other mothers both young and older. It made me feel that every mother was going through the same things. The same worries, fears and excitement. I only truly accepted this is ok and this is normal when I got to be around other mothers.’
Susan Hughes, a parent from Drogheda said in relation to Preparing for Early Learning and Care: ‘I felt anxious as I didn’t know any child minders. I was anxious as I had breastfed her and I was worried about how she would feed in Day Care, as she had never taken to a bottle. I visited the Louth County Childcare website for a list of childminders and I attended the Incredible Years Toddler Programme. I found this to be good in terms of meeting other mums and learning new strategies. It was important to me that these strategies were also being put into practice in the day care setting, as it was important for me to communicate to the minder how I managed positive and negative behaviours’
Edel Hannelly, a parent from Drogheda said in relation to Preparing for Primary School: ‘I was really nervous and I didn’t know what to expect. What we had to do with Lexie before she started school was to practice what she had learned in crèche and encourage her to use her listening ears in school. You have to prepare them for what’s ahead by telling them what they can expect, they will have a lunchbox, be given homework, learn new things , make new friends and also have teacher telling them what to do’.
As regards advice for other parents facing into their child going to ‘big school’ for the first time, she said: ‘Let them take the lead and come back and tell you if something is wrong. It sounds funny but they will end up reassuring you. Sit down with them after school one on one and give them time to tell you how their day went’.
The Flying Start website is now live and the Little Steps to Big School programme resources are being distributed to participating early learning and care centres and primary schools.
Background to the Development of Flying Start
In October 2017, The Genesis Programme project team convened two Focus Groups consisting of early year’s practitioners, teachers, Louth Co Childcare Committee, HSE and TUSLA staff.
Dr Mary O’Kane, a Lecturer in Psychology, Early Childhood Studies and Education at Maynooth University and a leading researcher in the area of childhood transitions facilitated these groups. The overall aim was to produce a coordinated Transitions Framework for children, parents and professionals in County Louth.
Following on from the Focus Groups, a Transitions Working Group consisting of representatives from partner organisations including the HSE, Tusla, Louth County Childcare Committee, participating Schools and Early Learning and Care Centres was formed. The purpose of the group was to develop a comprehensive package to support transitions for children, parents and professionals across County Louth. Yvonne Forde and Claire Gleeson from The Genesis Programme project team coordinated and led out on this.
Key components included in the framework are:
Transition to Parenthood
Preparing for Parenthood – Covering prenatal care and nutrition, personal and mental wellbeing, physical health and preparing for birth.
Caring For You & Your Baby During Pregnancy – Covering the transition to parenthood, changing relationships and advice on maternity and hospital options.
Newborn Essentials – Covering postnatal depression, skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, introducing baby to siblings and taking baby home.
Babies Social and Emotional Development – Covering social and emotional milestones, baby yoga, attachment, tummy time, baby massage and the use of songs and rhymes.
Transition to Early Learning and Care
Choosing Early Learning and Care – Making an informed decision, providing information on the early childhood care and education programme, the types of early childhood care and education programme and entitlements for parents under the National Childcare Scheme.
Preparing for Early Learning and Care – Providing tips and strategies on settling your child into early learning and care, local support groups for mothers and toddlers, child directed play, making preparation fun, separation anxiety and leaving your child for the first time.
Transition to Primary School
Preparing for Primary School – Covering school readiness skills, social and emotional development, learning through play, Little Steps to Big School, interactive reading, starting school in a new country and easing the transition for children with additional needs
Day 2 Training in the KiVa Anti-Bullying Programme for the KiVa Teams in each of the ten new schools to join the programme this year took place on Wednesday 25th September with over 60 in attendance.
All the KiVa Teams were joined by the Principals from their schools as well for the day.
The training is focused on how to tackle cases of bullying when they do come to the attention of the school.
The training was led by Claire Gleeson, Yvonne Forde and Laura Sherry from The Genesis Programme project team.
We look forward to watching the implementation of the programme throughout the school year
The Drogheda Parent Forum, hosted by The Genesis Programme’s Drogheda Area Coordination Team, was a huge success with over 120 in attendance at the Westcourt Hotel on Friday 27th September.
Amongst the speakers on the day was Dr. Mary O’Kane of NUI Maynooth and a regular contributor to Ireland AM.
The theme for the day was ‘ Happy Children, Stronger Families: From Worries to Wellbeing’.
The Genesis Programme along with the other Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme areas, attended a national showcase In Dublin on the 1st October on what has been achieved to date and to plan for the future.
We were also delighted to highlight the work of The Changing Lives Initiative.
The event enabled all of the ABC areas to exhibit their work, which is focused on delivering prevention and early intervention programmes to support children and families.
Local public representatives from each area were also invited to the event and we were delighted Senator Ged Nash, Deputy Gerry Adams and Cllr. Michelle Hall were able to join us.
The Launch of the Flying Start Initiative and Celebration of Incredible Years Accreditation will take place on the 18th October at 11am in Ardee Library.
Flying Start is a framework supporting children, parents and professionals on the key transitions that happen in the first five years of a child’s life.
Register via Eventbrite at Launch of the Flying Start Initiative
The Flying Start Initiative will be launched by Professor Emer Smyth of the Economic & Social Research Institute on Friday 18th October at 11am in Ardee Library.
A special blog feature from Bernie Pentony, St. John’s JNS, Drogheda
In May 2018, our Early Years pre-school was fortunate to secure one of the limited places on the TOY project, which is an Intergenerational Learning (IGL) initiatives programme. In essence, it is about bringing young children and senior citizens in our community together to share their experiences, so that they can learn with and from each other.
Through the support and recommendation of The Genesis Programme Project Team, training was available to one staff member to represent our setting. Technological University of Dublin (TUD) in junction with the Erasmus Programme of the European Union provided training over a six-week period, delivered through online modules and face-to-face classes. Following training participants could plan and prepare their own IGL project to suit the needs of their setting and those within the local community.
The following is an overview of our approach to incorporating the TOY project within our setting and within our local community.
Our first initiative involved a visit to our local Men’s Shed Project in Drogheda. All children accompanied by their parents/guardians and staff enjoyed a short walk to their establishment. Some of the members, who gave us all a tour of the various areas, warmly greeted us. It was lovely to go into each area and see members actually engaged in their work. They too joined in by really engaging in a Show and Tell about their work. Children were given hands on experience to handle some of the products made and to see some being made etc. This was fantastic and the interest and active collaboration between young and old was emerging positively as the visit progressed. The showroom was a particular highlight of the visit as the parents and children interacted with different members, who on hand to show off the various variety of products that were made. Many of which were children’s toys (Dolls Houses, wooden pull along vehicles, wooden horses, board games) other items were for the outdoor/garden area and some lovely decorative products for the home. Christmas cribs fully furnished with figures/animals etc.
After the final tour of the main active facilities, we entered the recreational room. Many members were already there and welcomed us with positive comments and gestures. A large pool table grabbed the children’s attention and they naturally gravitated towards the members playing here. It was heart-warming to witness the interactions that followed here. TOY was clearly witnessed, as children and seniors chatted and gave handshakes and high fives to each other. The atmosphere in the room was incredible. Parents, children and the members of the MS appeared to naturally blend and a genuine sense of togetherness appeared to descend amongst all involved. Feedback was very positive from both children and parents. The visit highlighted this wonderful service and facility within our local community and the importance of building links between young and old within the community. Another memorable highlight especially for the children was the production of a sweet cart crafted by the MS and of course, it had many treats for the children to choose. This was such a lovely gesture provided by the MS and it ended the visit. The children and parents all gave a big clap and thanked all those present.
It was agreed that some members of the Men’s Sheds would reciprocate with a visit to our School setting in the springtime. An outdoor gardening activity, engaging young and old was proposed. It was envisaged that the purpose of this would complement both parties in the sharing of skills and active involvement in a fun and engaging activity.
February 2019 Grandparents Day
As part of our on-going IGL project, we held a special Grandparents Day visit to our setting. Grandparents and children engaged in a number of art & craft activities (making and creating cards/pictures using a variety of mixed media). Decorating cup cakes with icing and edible decorations. Playing interactive games all of which the children enjoyed leading the way and play with their grandparents. Refreshments were provided for grandparents and the children. Lovely interactions were observed between the children and their grandparents and indeed amongst the grandparents themselves. This visit was a very special one and as staff, we thoroughly enjoyed being part of the experience and in witnessing the special bonds and interactions between old and young. This IGL initiative is one that we definitely hope to incorporate within our future curriculum plans. It embraces positive connections and learning for the children. It supports all of Aistear’s themes especially in relation to Well-being, Identity & belonging, Communicating and Exploring & thinking.
May 2019 Outdoor Planting of Flowers/Shrubs with the Men’s Shed
As promised, the Men’s Sheds reciprocated a visit to our Early Start pre-school. We commissioned the Men’s Shed to make some large planters for our outdoor play area.
Some of the men modelled a demonstration of the planting process, the children were invited to participate in choosing, and planting their flowers in the planters provided. This initiative demonstrated the importance of engaging with nature and in acknowledging the shared experiences and appreciation for our natural environment between old and young. It was very much a first hands -on experience for the children and they thoroughly enjoyed it.
June 2019 Ti Chi Session with Local Senior Citizens and Children
Our final IGL initiative included a Ti Chi session in our PE hall with some of the lovely women from the local senior citizens Ti Chi group.
Music and movement appropriately tailored for the children’s age and stage of development was explained and demonstrated for the children. The children enjoyed improvising and modelling different moves and actions, accompanied by some supporting music. Following the session both young and old engaged with each other and shared what they enjoyed most about the experience. The children loved the freedom and exploration that this activity afforded them. It was great to witness the enjoyment that the senior women expressed through their interactions with the children. This initiative highlighted the benefits of physical play, exploration and promoting the child’s creative self through the medium of music and movement whilst enhancing positive interactions between old and young.
Conclusion to our TOY Project Journey in Early Start
In conclusion to our TOY (IGL) project, as a staff we positively endorse the many benefits that intergenerational learning initiatives bring to all those involved. Before we embarked on this IGL journey, we never anticipated the powerful impact that it would have on all those involved. From building relationships and well-being to respect for diversity and in supporting interaction with and within the community to mention but a few.
As coordinator of the TOY project within our setting, I would like to thank my colleagues for their enthusiasm and support in planning and implementing all of the initiatives. The children, parents and senior citizens involved made this project the huge success it was and I extend my thanks to them all. A special thank you to The Genesis Programme team for their support in involving us in this wonderful initiative; to TUD for hosting the training sessions and to the course coordinators, Anne Fitzpatrick and Carmel Gallagher, for their professional interest and support. It has been a pleasure to be involved and going forward it is our intention to continue to incorporate IGL as part of our Early Years curriculum within the Early Start programme in St. John’s JNS.
The latest online newsletter from The Genesis Programme is now available.
UPDATE (Issue No 9) covers a range of activities and events over the last six months.
Click on this link: UPDATE – The Genesis Programme Online Newsletter Summer 2019
The third edition of the ‘Incredible Years: A Trouble-Shooting Guide for Parents of Children Aged 3-8 Years’ has just been published.
On the front cover is Maisie Corr, a picture taken in Moneymore Childcare Centre by photographer Paul Connor when Carolyn Webster-Stratton was here in May 2018.
It is a testament to how Carolyn felt about her visit and the great work being done here. Great recognition too for Moneymore Childcare Centre and a brilliant picture by Paul Connor.
There were celebrations in Dundalk and in Drogheda as 112 parents graduated after successfully completing an Incredible Years Parent Programme. The Genesis Programme oversees the delivery of the Incredible Years suite of programmes through the ABC (Area Based Childhood) Programme and The Changing Lives Initiative (CLI).
For the first time ever, parents graduating from the ABC Programme, were joined by those graduating from the CLI.
The Changing Lives Initiative is a community-based project which provides an early intervention group based parent programme for parents of children aged 3 to 7 years who are experiencing behaviours consistent with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
On Friday 14th June, there were celebrations as 47 parents graduated after successfully completing the Incredible Years Parent Programme, at a special event in Dundalk Institute of Technology, where family and friends joined them.
The Genesis Programme’s Dundalk Area Coordination Team (ACT) hosted the event. Members of the Dundalk ACT including representatives from the local schools, early years services, Community Groups, TUSLA and the HSE joined the graduating parents in their celebrations.
The following experienced Group Leaders facilitated the programmes:
• Muirne Lawlor (St. Joseph’s National School)
• Gillian Plunkett
• Annemarie Ó Murchú (The Changing Lives Initiative)
• Carol Ann White ( Scoil Eoin Baiste)
• Nora Donaghy
• Siobhán McDonald (The Changing Lives Initiative)
• Sandra Farrell (The Changing Lives Initiative)
Parents who completed the ADHD focussed programme delivered through the CLI said: ‘Incredible Years has changed our families life’s for the better, realising that we are the calm in our children’s storm has been one of the biggest realisations for our group’ and ‘I found the group fantastic. It really helped. The support and advice I received was brilliant, especially with three kids with additional needs’.
Niall Weldon, School Completion Programme Dhun Dealgan and Chairperson of the Dundalk ACT said: ‘I think it’s great that the parents receive recognition in a formal education setting such as DKIT. I think the programmes they have been trained in make a lasting positive effect on their children and families. I feel that any of these programmes show that parents aren’t in this on their own, that there are a lot of parents with similar issues and needs and the peer support that they get from one another is just outstanding’.
Then on Tuesday 18th June, at what was the 12th annual Incredible Years Parent Graduation event in Drogheda, 65 parents from different programmes delivered through The Genesis Programme, including the first group held in Ardee, graduated with flying colours at a packed and excited Glenside Hotel.
The ceremony saw 26 parents graduate from the Incredible Years Basic Parent Programme. Also graduating on the day was the Baby Massage group who completed the programme in Marymount NS with 12 parents and babies. This programme focuses on attachment and bonding between parents and their babies and was delivered over 5 weeks and enjoyed by all who attended. A further 27 parents who completed the CLI programme also graduated which was delivered in both Ardee and Drogheda through morning and evening sessions.
The following Group Leaders facilitated the programmes delivered in Drogheda and Ardee:
• Nichola Chambers
• Gillian Plunkett
• Siobhan Haughey
• Annemarie Ó Murchú (The Changing Lives Initiative)
• Paula Holland
• Laura Sherry (ABC Programme)
• Siobhán McDonald (The Changing Lives Initiative)
• Sandra Farrell (The Changing Lives Initiative)
Paul, one of the graduates said, ‘At the beginning we felt like strangers coming into a new environment. As the programme progressed, we learnt so much about each other. We got to know each other’s families and by the end we knew each other like best buddies’.
Maria Torpey, Principal at Marymount NS said ‘The Incredible Years Parent Programme first began in Marymount NS in 2008 and we consider ourselves extraordinarily lucky to continue to have such a resource available to the parents in our school community. Parenting is a difficult task and for those parents who have engaged with the programme the benefits as described to me by them are establishing improved relationships with the children and also giving the parents the courage to take good decisions on behalf of their children and being able to follow through on those decisions.
In our experience as a school the greater parental engagement the greater the benefits for the child in school. Therefore, the Incredible Years Parenting Programme has been a win-win for all of us and most importantly for the children who are our primary concern. We thank The Genesis Programme for their continued support of the Programme.’
Hugh Doogan, Programme Manager with The Genesis Programme said ‘The Genesis Programme prides itself on its community based approach to prevention and early intervention. The success of the programme to date has been far reaching in delivering better developmental outcomes for children and their families across Co Louth. It is great to see parents involved in a number of different parenting programmes graduate today on this the 12th anniversary of the event here in Drogheda’.
From the 4th to the 6th June, The Genesis Programme were very well represented by some members of the Project Team at the World Anti-Bullying Forum held in Dublin City University.
Alice Malone and Claire Gleeson presented on the Implementation of the KiVa Anti-Bullying Programme in Ireland.
Yvonne Forde and Laura Sherry hosted a poster presentation on the KiVa Anti-Bullying Programme in Action in Irish Primary Schools whilst Hugh Doogan presented with colleagues from the University of Turku in Finland on the impact the programme has had since introduced to our schools last year.
It was a great opportunity to showcase the work and the commitment of the participating schools to the programme, for learning and sharing and making new connections