Five ways to boost your child’s mental wellbeing

Five ways to boost your child’s mental wellbeing

Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity that provides counselling and mental health supports in UK schools, has the following advice for parents:

1. Celebrate your child’s strengths and differences

Help your child to recognise, and love, their own qualities and interests¨. Celebrate what makes them an individual and encourage them to see those positives and be a friend to themselves.

2. Have open conversations about feelings

Be a good role model and share your feelings openly with your child. This will show them that it’s okay to talk about how they feel - whether they feel happy and excited, or worried and sad.

3. Help your child to come up with their own ways to cope

Parents often want to fix things for children – but it’s important we give them a chance to deal with difficult situations on their own. Make it clear that you will step in if your help is needed, but empower your child to come up with their own ideas to cope with problems by asking them questions like, ‘how could you respond?’, ‘what do you think might help?’.

4. Let them experience their feelings fully

Every feeling is valid - so try to avoid minimising their feelings or rescuing by trying to instantly make them ‘happy’ or saying things like ‘don’t be sad’. Instead, talk to them about their sad feelings and tell them it’s okay to be sad sometimes.

5. Make yourself available to listen

Sometimes your child may not want to talk, and it’s important we don’t force them to have a conversation they don’t want. Make yourself available but don’t pressure them to talk. You may find that your child opens up in situations where they feel less pressure – for example, when you’re in the car on the way home from school.

Full article via the Irish Times


David Quinn
Read more
Should Special Needs Workers be considered a Vaccine Priority?

Should Special Needs Workers be considered a Vaccine Priority?

Special school staff should have vaccine priority, says teachers’ group

Staff in special schools and classes for children with additional needs should be prioritized for Covid-19 vaccines as a matter of “extreme urgency”, the head of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) has said.


The group representing primary school principals said teachers in special schools were working in close contact with students “equivalent to frontline health staff.

Initially, the State’s vaccination programme was arranged to prioritise certain professions and those working or living in crowded conditions, following healthcare workers, the elderly and medically vulnerable.

However, the plan was redrawn to focuson an age-based approach, to vaccinate older cohorts down to younger groups, without regard to profession. The decision led to a backlash at the time from teaching unions, who had been promised school staff would be prioritised for inoculation.

Addressing the IPPN conference, Minister for Education Norma Foley said it was her “intention” to retain a number of supports introduced for schools during Covid-19 after the pandemic was over.

Here is what we think

Special Needs Education is overlooked every single day. It's terrible to hear that students and children who need the help the most, will be unable to get it until it is safe and secure for them to return.

With Special Needs Teachers not being a priority these children will be unable to return to a place they so desperately need. We will do our best to provide you with as much information as we can as the situation continues.

David Quinn
Read more
Arts & Crafts Essentials

Arts & Crafts Essentials

Wondering what you should get before school starts back to ensure you’re organised for the first term? Well, here’s what we recommend starting with so that you’re prepared for the year ahead.

Because of the current pandemic I’m planning on organising my classroom slightly differently this year. I’m planning on getting chair pouches for each child which will slide onto their chair. In their pouch they’ll all have their own set of supplies, this will hopefully avoid the need to share common classroom supplies and it will save time as the distribution of resources will not need to occur. If you are not planning on getting chair pockets you could also get a separate box or tub for each child with their name on it to keep their things divided. I've also included links to our online store where you can purchase the items mentioned. With that said, here’s what you’ll need.

A3 white & coloured paper

Not only is A3 a good size for writing our classroom rules (which should be written together on the first day), but it’s also great for an introductory art lesson. What a great way of letting the class feel ownership over the space than having their self-portraits displayed. Also use A3 paper for projects, displays, charts and posters.

A4 white, black & coloured card

You’ll need this at various stages throughout the year. You’ll need it for displays, junk art, projects, seasonal art.

Paint brushes

Do you have a class list yet? If so, make sure you have enough paint brushes for each child, as well as yourself. As paintbrushes will have to be washed anyway after each lesson there’s no need to label or sort them in accordance with Covid-19 classroom recommendations. Just wash them well after each use and store them bristles up to prevent them from going hard.


Again you’ll need a full set of classroom scissors. Getting scissors that are suitable for both right or left handed users avoids confusion and having to swap. If you’re not getting chair pockets it might be a good idea to get a lunchbox for each child, labelling it and letting them only use the classroom supplies in their tub, their personal scissors could be kept there.


Each child could keep their individual glue stick in their pouch/ tub. They’ll need glue not only for art and crafts but also for sticking sheets into their copies.


Why not start with the primary colours, black and white. A lovely introduction into art could be making individual colour wheels. All you need is a paper plate for each child (divided into 6) place each primary colour in a section with a white section separating each one. Then mix two colours and paint the section between them colours with your new made colour on your colour wheel and so on. This teaches mixing colours from the get go and encourages children to experiment with tones.

Paint Palettes

Keep colours separated while allowing spare segments for students to mix.

Water Jars

These don’t need to be fancy. You could collect jars from sauces in your kitchen or alternatively just use plastic cups. A tip is to make sure the jars have some weight to them to avoid the children knocking them over and creating a mess.


As clay is a strand of the primary art curriculum you’ll need to add this to your collection. However this may be something that you might want to order closer to actually needing it.

Edging for Borders

Not only will your class be proud of their work being displayed nicely, but they also give the notice/ display board a lift.

Colouring Supplies

These are particularly important for the younger classes as they’ll use them daily in their text books and copies. I like using triangular shaped pencils and long twist type crayons (such as twistables) as they promote the proper tripod grip. Colouring pencils can be great be older classes as they allow for tidier work and older children may be able to pair them independently (that’s the main reason I don’t use them daily with infants).

Other supplies that you may wish to add over time:

David Quinn
Read more
How do I explain Coronavirus to my children?

How do I explain Coronavirus to my children?

Here at Acorn Educational we’ve hand selected two of our favourite social stories, made especially for educating children about Covid-19, to help families communicate about why it is so important to stay at home.

Social stories are great because they’re familiar to children (we use them in school regularly). They teach children about issues which are topical and which affect them (such as the Coronavirus), and they allow children to draw comparisons between their lives and the lives of the characters.

Firstly we chose this beautiful video titled Sylvie Bloom ‘Corona, Corona, Corona’.

Produced Dog Day Media / Written by 'Writing for Tiny' and 'Tiny Health'

This story was developed by a family unit, consisting of Dr. Michael Carter and his wife Gail, both of who are medical professionals, and is narrated wonderfully by their daughter Rosie.

Click the image to see how the life that Sylvie lived has now been flipped on its head and how she manages during these strange times. We see how she deals with her boredom and most of all how she copes with missing her family and friends.

Click image to see story

In this story, Sylvie’s teaches her pet Trua about the virus, what it is, how we keep ourselves safe and why we need to keep distance between some members of society. But, by continuing to do what she is doing Sylvie is being a SUPERHERO!! Her power…. “staying at home and keeping people safe!”

We also love the short story ‘Why We Stay Home: Suzie Learns about Coronavirus’.

“Suzie is really excited to be able to stay home with her Mommy, Daddy, and older sister Millie! When Suzie expresses this to Millie, she explains to Suzie why they have been staying home with a quick lesson on Coronavirus”.

This beautiful story was written by Samantha Harris and Devon Scott, two medical students which helps the readers to understand more about germs and how this one can make people very sick. It discusses symptoms, quarantine and prevention methods (such as hand washing, social distancing and wearing a mask) but mostly importantly Millie reminds Suzie that “it will get better. We just have to keep sticking together”.

Click image to see story

For more social stories visit our Instagram @AcornEducational

David Quinn
Read more
RTÉ Home School Hub

RTÉ Home School Hub

What is RTÉ Home School Hub?

The RTÉ Home School Hub describes itself as a “cross-platform teaching initiative for primary school kids across the country.” This means that it aims to help children across the country in learning from their homes, in different ways, across different subjects of the existing primary school curriculum.

New episodes are released daily from Monday to Friday at 11:00am lasting approximately one hour. Following the episode children are directed to possible activities which they may like to do, these activities can be found at The activities are presented online in both English and Irish, giving the children the opportunity to further their learning in whichever language comes naturally to them (or are used to learning in).

There are three different teachers, all with links to RTÉ who present three segments aimed at 1st and 2nd class, 3rd and 4th class and 5th and 6th class. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screenshot-2020-05-05-at-18.25.31.png

How do I access the RTÉ Home School Hub and at what time?

The RTÉ Home School Hub can be accessed in several ways and on many devices.

  1. It can be viewed on RTÉ2 Monday to Friday on your television at 11:00am.
  2. It can be viewed live or as catch up on 'RTÉ Young Peoples' on YouTube at Here you can find all previous episodes also.
  3. All previous episodes can be viewed on RTÉ Player anytime at
  4. Use a smart device (smart phone, tablet, smart television etc.) to go onto Here all previous episodes and activities can be found anytime.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screenshot-2020-05-05-at-18.25.43.png

What is taught on the RTÉ Home School Hub?

A variety of subjects are taught on this programme, along with the core subjects English, Irish and Maths there are also activities available in the areas of History, Geography, Science, Physical Education (PE), Social Physical and Health Education (SPHE), Visual Arts, Music, Drama and even Irish Sign Language (ISL) how great is that!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screenshot-2020-05-05-at-18.26.20-1.png

What else do I need to know?

RTÉ Home School Hub also suggests various competitions, articles, experiments and videos, which may also help focus your child’s energy. Featured content includes learning how to code, bringing Dublin Zoo to you, draw a comic challenge, learn how to write a song and how your immune system works among many more.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screenshot-2020-05-05-at-18.26.40.png
David Quinn
Read more
Websites We Adore!

Websites We Adore!

The websites listed below are ones that we love to use in our primary school classes, they are not listed in any particular order but should provide a range of scope at home to help in teaching your youngsters. All of the websites listed are free to use as of April 2020. If we’ve left out your favourite websites we’d love to hear from you!

  • Twinkl
    Extra worksheets, activities, online games, printable games, eBooks and PowerPoints on every subject and topic can be found on Twinkl. It is a website full of educational resources. They are offering a free access to parents for a month. This website is used regularly throughout the school year and I would really recommend using some of the resources with your child. It is really easy to set yourself up on this website – just visit the link above and enter your email address, password and the offer code: IRLTWINKLHELPS. You can search through suitable resources linking to our curriculum by clicking on the appropriate tab. 
  • TeachYourMonsterToRead
    This website covers everything from phonics (letters and letter sounds) to reading short sentences while practising tricky words. To sign up go to the website using the link above where it can be played online for free.
  • GetEpic 
    Here you will find a library of books which your child can read along, listen to or read by themselves. The children will be able to read some of the books without any help, other books are trickier. In this case you should look at the book image, if it has a green rectangle on the bottom of the cover it means there is the option of having the book read to the children which they can follow along with. You can also click on the words on the pages of the book which will explain the word to you. This online library is free for parents to use for 30 days. Alternatively contact your child’s teacher, they can sign them up for free until June 30th.
  • ClassroomSecrets 
    This website can be used to practise using both English and Maths. Children should focus on the tab that correlate to their class in school. As they don’t follow the grade names that we use in Ireland you could use EYFS for Junior Infants, Year 1 for Senior Infants, Year 2 for First Class and so on.
  • Irish Websites for Practising Gaeilge
    Scéal an Lae (Story of the Day) - Listen to some familiar faces read some of your favourite stories.
    Séideán Sí - Practise listening and coping some useful phrases and expressions and play some interactive games to test you on what you have just learned.
    RTE 10@10 - 10 minutes of exercise routines which are posted daily. Why not challenge yourself and try it as Gaeilge.

Assessing primary school books online as another good and potentially useful way of helping to address your child's educational needs from home. Below, is a list of popular publishers that are offering free access to their books as of April 2020.

    Here you can access books such as ‘Just Phonics’, ‘Better English’, ‘Better Maths’, ‘Just Handwriting’, ‘Tables Champion’ and ‘Work it Out Maths’ as well as many more books made by These books can be accessed online for free by clicking on the link above.
  • Folens
    As well as many more books made by Folens, here you can access books such as ‘Abair Liom’, ‘All Write Now’, ‘Am Don Léamh’, ‘Planet Maths’, ‘Reading Zone’, ‘Sounds in Action’, ‘Starlight’, ‘Spellbound’ and ‘Unlocking SESE’. To register for free go to and click register. Select Teacher and fill in a username, email and password. When you’re asked for a roll number use the code: Prim20.
  • EdCo
    The Educational Company (EdCo) is offering free access of all e-books to students, teachers and parents for the coming weeks. Books they offer include ‘Aliveo-O’, ‘All Around Me’, ‘Béal Beo’, ‘Bua na Cainte’, Maith Thú!’, ‘Maths Mate’, ‘Operation Maths’, ‘Reasons to Write’, ‘Sin É’ and ‘Window on the World’ as well as many more. To access these books for free visit the website on the link above and use the primary username 'primaryedcobooks' and the password 'edco2020'. 
  •  CJ Fallon
    CJ Fallon also has a range of books that can be accessed for free by clicking the above link. Books which the offer include ‘Brain Teasers’, ‘A Way With Words’, ‘Figure it Out’, ‘Mathemagic’, ‘Mata Draíochta’, Bun go Barr’, ‘What a Wonderful World’, ‘Spellbound’, ‘Onwards and Upwards’, Ceartlitriú’, ‘Small World’, ‘Bust at Maths’, ‘Gafa le Mata’, ‘Go with the Flow’ and ‘Mindful Matters’ as well as others.
David Quinn
Read more