The Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Curriculum in Irish schools is designed to help children develop their understanding of wellbeing and their own health. It can be an incredibly useful way to prepare children for the world ahead and gives them proper foresight into their futures. Being able to effectively handle a stressful situation is incredibly important, and there are a number of resources available to help children take more control over their emotions, wellbeing and overall health.
If you’re a parent of a child in the Junior Infants stage of Primary School and are unsure how SPHE is taught or why, this guide will aim to answer some of your questions. We’ll also discuss how you can support your child develop key SPHE skills outside of the classroom, and highlight some excellent SPHE activity books they can take with them to school.
Why is SPHE important to child development?
The purpose of the SPHE curriculum is to help children understand their own health, emotions and wellbeing. At the Junior and Senior Infant level of Primary School, SPHE teaching focuses on developing children’s sense of self (their self-identities and bodies), their relationships with other people and nurturing an understanding of global citizenship.
This is an important subject in schools because it not only helps develop a child’s concept of personal responsibility and awareness for others’ feelings, but it also provides a pupil with the tools to become a confident, healthy and connected person both now and later in life. The Stay Safe Programme is a personal safety skills programme delivered as part of the SPHE curriculum in Primary Schools to educate pupils about bullying, dealing with situations where they feel threatened or unsafe and building self-esteem.
Ultimately, SPHE encourages the development of values, attitudes and skills that will guide the actions and decisions pupils make as they grow. This, in turn, can have positive outcomes on academic performance, resilience and pro-social relationships.
Supporting your Junior Infant with their SPHE development
As a parent, there are many ways you can assist your young learner with their SPHE development. Communication is key here, so encouraging your child to use their own language to talk about what they are thinking or feeling will allow you to recognise and name emotions they don’t yet have the vocabulary for.
You can help foster a sense of personal responsibility by motivating your child to look after their own possessions both at school and around the home. This can also include endorsing healthy eating habits and attitudes towards food and physical activity, so that your child understands their importance to wellbeing. Finally, a good way to demonstrate collaboration is to speak with your child’s teacher and other parents in the school community to pool tips and advice.
Finding the right SPHE activity book for your child
If you are looking for resources to facilitate your child’s SPHE education, then you will be glad to know that there are a lot of excellent activity books available. The most important considerations for finding books should be the resources outlined in the SPHE curriculum and your child’s school, as well as your child’s age. Activity books should be presented in a child-friendly, age-appropriate format with lots of colour and engaging activities.
These activities should introduce children to important emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger and love so that readers can form a vocabulary to explain what they are thinking and feeling. To do so, a SPHE resource needs to encourage children to accept and express their emotions in a reflective, positive way, without the pressure to apply correct spellings or sentence structures.
SPHE activity books
This book is a complete SPHE programme that includes all of the required components of the SPHE curriculum. It is perfectly suited for Junior Infants and includes posters, stories, role-playing games, brainstorming and other engaging activities. Mindful Matters can be used as a portfolio while learning and makes an excellent assessment tool. The learning structure is more focused on giving children the room to form their own thoughts and emotions rather than using correct grammar.
This is a multi-year programme designed for children ranging from Junior Infants to First Class. It has been developed to enhance children’s social, emotional, spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing. As a resource, this book is an excellent way to let children understand, regulate and express both positive and negative emotions. This can foster self-confidence and self-worth, ultimately improving the social relationships that children create.
This Irish-language book is part of a series used for SESE and SPHE programmes from Junior Infants to Sixth Class. It follows the Revised Primary Curriculum for SESE/SPHE and uses an integrated approach as outlined in the syllabus. The series also includes a number of manuals and answer books to aid learning.
This is an evidence-based, whole-school approach to wellbeing that uses the SPHE curriculum as a foundation. This resource is an excellent way to show children the importance of emotional literacy, resilience and healthy lifestyle choices like sleeping and exercising. Included in the My Wellbeing Diary is a pupil book that helps young readers develop mindfulness. It incorporates 10 learning modules that focus on wellbeing, with one module per month from September to June.