As a parent, you may feel that it's your responsibility to consolidate your child's English learning at home. However, it can be quite confusing trying to figure out how to go about this. English is still the predominant language taught in Irish Primary and Secondary Schools outside of the Gaeltacht areas and Gaelscoileanna, which is another factor to consider when trying to support young children with their primary education.
This is where reading and activity books can be really beneficial. Not only are they a fun and informative learning experience for your child, but they are usually self-led. We’ve outlined some ways you can support your Junior Infant with their English at home, as well as some great activity books they can take with them to school.
Supporting your Junior Infant with their English
There are many ways that you can support your Junior Infant with their English. A good place to start is simply by encouraging your child to read different genres and styles of books. This will help them to develop a deeper understanding of how language is used in a variety of different contexts.
By opening a dialogue with your child about what they’ve just read, you can help them to develop a critical mind and express themselves in their own words. We also recommend that you encourage your child to write in different genres. Whether this is creative writing like fictional stories or informative writing like everyday shopping lists, your child will start to understand the different styles of English with regular practice.
By catering your home learning to how your child prefers to take in information and working in study sessions around their most productive time of day, you can demonstrate that learning doesn’t have to be rigid and tedious. Incorporating fun activities such as games, puzzles or songs will make the experience even more enjoyable, while also working to improve the areas that your child struggles with by making certain words, sounds or language rules more memorable.
Finding the right English activity book for your child
Firstly, you should look at what it says in the Primary Language Curriculum. This details exactly what your child will be learning over the course of the year. By basing activity books on this, you'll be supporting their school learning.
It’s important when looking for the right English activity book for your child that you consider their current level/capabilities. Giving them work that is too hard will not be productive. If your child is at the foundation level, you should purchase activity books that correspond to this. An activity book should also contain activities such as colouring, tracing, matching and sequencing and puzzles. This provides a more interactive experience for your child which can aid better retention of relevant skills.
There are also plenty of resources and activity books that teach in both English and Irish. With the support of their teacher’s lesson plan in class, the books can help your child see the links between the two languages and understand how to make sense of translations.
CJ Fallon Core Reader series
These books are designed to help kids at the foundation level improve their English skills by stimulating their brains with exciting fictional stories set in Ireland. They will encourage your child to engage with and develop their language so that they can understand the world around them.
Folens Reading Zone series
The Reading Zone series of six activity books is designed to reinforce the Core Reading Books. The main purpose of this series is to develop word recognition and comprehension, sight vocabulary, phonics and writing.
Each book features a large version of each new word so your child can trace over them with their finger, with tests for these words later on in the book. The first three books listed below are for Junior Infants level, and books 4-6 are for Senior Infants. This creates a more complete programme of development so your child can follow their progression through the key stages.
You can browse the entire Folens collection here.
Folens Starlight Core Reader series
Core Readers are a four-book series which feature a fiction and non-fiction text in each book to introduce children to genre. The fiction texts centre around the adventures of Kate, Mark and Rocky the dog which will help stimulate your child’s imagination.
Each book comes with access to an eReader on FolensOnline that has synced audio and text highlighting to help with phonics and word recognition. The series ties in with the themes of the Oral Language Posters and Big Books, complementing the curriculum.
The same series is available for Foundation-Level Readers, with the same characters, content and images but catered to an easier reading level.
You can shop the entire Folens collection here.
Magic Emerald Infant Language Programme
This programme features six core reading books and corresponding activity books. The first two books in the series are for Junior Infants and centre around funny storylines with animal characters, slowly introducing new words. This helps your child build literacy confidence and key reading abilities that will support their progression into Senior Infants and books 3-6.
Other English activity books
This is an all-encompassing book with activities to help your child develop skills such as reading, grammar, phonics and writing. Categories include auditory and visual discrimination, direction and high-frequency words.
This pack corresponds with the Jolly Phonics and Skills Book, helping children to improve their reading and phonic skills.
This book is crammed full of fun English exercises and games such as an educational Connect 4 and Three Little Pigs storybook. The learning strategy includes a spiral approach to grammar, simple sentence writing and consistent practice of high-frequency words. It is also aligned with the Primary Language Programme.
A series of 10 short books following the adventures of Danny, Zeb, Emma and Josh. The stories are illustrated and the books are designed to make developing literacy skills enjoyable. This set is ideal for more visual learners.