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Friday, 18th October 2019

New programme to give local children a Flying Start

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At the launch of the Genesis “Flying Start” initiative were, back row (from left): Claire Gleeson of the Genesis Programme, Donna Stokes of Lios na nÓg, Frank O’Brien, Chair of the Louth Leader Partnership and Jackie Austin of HSE. Seated are Yvonne Forde of of the Genesis Programme, Professor Emer Smyth of the Economic & Social Research Institute and Bronagh MCGlade of the Louth County Childcare Committee.

The Genesis Programme launched a new initiative this morning called Flying Start which is designed to support children, parents and professionals in Louth on the key transitions that happen in the first five years of a child’s life.

The keynote speaker at the launch, which took place in Ardee Library, was Professor Emer Smyth from the Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) who is an expert in transitions.

She said that most children settle into primary school easily but others face greater challenges. She added that positive relationships between teachers and students play a crucial role in easing difficulties.

The Flying Start website outlines this framework and provides information and support across three definitive transition stages:

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  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. 

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, also from Drogheda, said:   ‘I was really nervous and 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.



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