Report on classes completed: My Baby and Me


Appendices include:



This is the fourth My Baby and Me course funded by local charity in Ennis since September 2013. See Appendix 1 for course outline used. Working in collaboration with the charity, Clare Family Learning Project organised Course 4, building on the experiences of the previous three courses.  It was decided to use The Junction as a venue due to its’ proximity to priority parents living in the Cloughleigh area of Ennis, it’s central location to the town of Ennis, good parking facilities, and space inside for buggies. Friday was chosen as it suited both tutor and venue availability.

Update on courses delivered and funding received to date:

Course Dates No. of  hours Numbers attending Venue Funding and
1 08/11/13 –
14 4 The Junction 1,852.50 on
2 27/01/14 –
10.5 3 Clare Women’s Network 3,710.00 on
3 27/01/14 –
4.5 4 Clare Women’s Network
4 21/03/14 –
22 6 The Junction 1,520.00 on
51 17 (13 counted once) 7,082.50



 Parent  Course 1  Course 2 Course 3  Course 4
1  X
 X  X
 X  X
 X  X
 X  X
10   X  X
11   X
12   X
13   X
 4  3  5  6

There has been a slow, steady increase in numbers attending since the first course in November. It can be seen from the above table that reaching those most vulnerable is very difficult. There are many barriers both external and internal that impact on participation. Ill health, clinic visits, doctor’s appointments and low levels of confidence are some of the reasons why attendance was low. Some had shift work which caused mothers to drop out.

One parent continued on from Course 1 to 2, one parent moved onto Course 2 to 3, while three parents moved from Course 3 to 4. Parents are identified by their number.

Course 4:  Attendance, Educational Level and Long Term Unemployed (LTU)

 Parent  21/3  28/3  4/4  11/4  2/5  9/5  16/5  23/5  13/06  LTU Education
 7  X  X  X   X  X  X  X  X  X  Yes  Lower 2nd
 9  X  X  X   X  X  X  –  –  X  Yes  Lower 2nd
10  X  X  X   X  X  X  X  X  X  Yes  Lower 2nd
11   X  X  X   X  X  X  X  X  X  Yes  Lower 2nd
12   X  X  X   X  X  X  X  X  X P/T
 Lower 2nd
13   X  X  –  –  –  –  –  –  – Yes  Primary

Four participants had 100% attendance. One parent had children who were sick for two weeks. The other parent stayed with her young daughter in a Dublin hospital while she underwent an operation and while she recovered afterwards. She contacted CFLP to say how much the programme meant to her and her real desire to attend another course in September. Since attending the course, she has met with the Coordinator of the One to One Literacy Volunteer Tutors. In September she will begin work on improving her own literacy skills with a tutor. Good attendance reflects a good venue, choice of day to suit parents and good topics of interest to mothers.



A lot of effort went into the promotion of Course 4. See Appendix 2 for poster used. The following organisations/agencies/schools were given posters and course outline:

  • Local Charity
  • Public Health Nurses
  • Home School Community Liaison Co-ordinators in three primary schools
  • School Completion Project  and HSCL in Ennis Community College
  • Clare Immigrant Support Centre,
  • Clarecare Social Services
  • Springboard Project
  • Clare County Childcare Committee
  • Primary Health Care Project
  • Community Preschools in disadvantaged areas in Ennis
  • Clare Women’s Network
  • Respond Community Housing leaflet drop by local residents.
  • Leaflet drop in RAPID area of Cloughleigh and Drumbiggle areas of Ennis
  • HSE Social workers



General aims of these sessions are for parents to:

  • Experience a positive, stimulating and friendly learning environment
  • Continue to engage mother and baby after My Baby and Me course ends
  • Increase parent and child interaction on literacy/numeracy activities at home
  • Receive a book/toy per family to use at home each class
  • Learn some baby first aid skills
  • Learn some tips on moving baby onto solid food
  • Meet others and share useful ideas as their children learn
  • Become positive role models for their children’s learning and to continue their own lifelong learning journey



5 pre-course questionnaires and 4 post-course questionnaires were completed. (See Appendix 3). The majority of parents are reading once per week, this changed to reading daily with their baby. Three never visited the library and this changed to four visiting the library weekly. Some mothers allow their children to watch baby television ‘for the colours.’ Overall parents moved from once a week or never to the majority doing more activities daily with their baby. Having learned about how oral language, literacy and numeracy in and around the home can make a difference to baby’s learning has made an impact on their lives. Parents didn’t realise they were so important educationally in their children’s lives.

The tutor recorded notes at the end of each class (see Appendix 4). Parents were given a recommended reading list of useful books for new parents. All of these are available in Ennis library. On the first day the group suggested having an outing on the last day. This gave them something to look forward to.

The mothers developed routine charts to bring home and were encouraged to include reading as part of their routine.

The internet was used to view useful Irish websites for parents such as while some parents shared useful apps they have used e.g. Toddler colouring book, Toddler Counting 123 and ABC Letters. There was a good discussion on using the internet wisely.

Parents visited the library for one class, as it is located near to The Junction. Parents brought home application forms to join the library, to complete in their own time.

You Tube was used to examine why storytelling is important and the various types of books that are available. The mothers spoke about their own mothers telling stories when they were children and discussed stories from different cultures. The group examined ways to bring a story to life.

The Public Health Nurse visited the group during one class and shared safety and first aid tips for babies and young children. The mothers asked a lot of questions. This was in great contrast to the first programme where mothers felt too shy and afraid speaking in front of others and in fear of the PHN that they should know more about caring for their baby. The PHN provided support books covering key developmental times from 0-6 and 6-24 months, and 2-5 years.

Food preparation was enjoyable for all mothers. Starting to feed babies on solids can be a worrying time for parents. There have been requests for more cookery classes. Each parent got involved in helping the tutor in the preparation of the food. The First 1,000 Days book was provided for each parent.

The day trip was an enjoyable day out for both the mothers and the children. They appreciated the opportunity and the financial support to go in a small group.


Recording the voices of parents

The tutor was able to use a digital recorder to capture parent’s voices for evaluation. (See Appendix 5). This idea was suggested by UNESCO Chair Pat Dolan from NUIG when discussing ways of evaluating the course. Highlights of the course that parents mentioned come under the following headings and include:

Social aspect for both parents and their children:

  • Good for us to dress ourselves up and get out.
  • Good to get out and about, meet other mums
  • Great to get to know other mothers
  • Good for my son to meet other children

New skills

  • Enjoyed the course in particular the cookery, food and nutrition
  • Found learning about First Aid and sun safety really useful
  • Information in the class was valuable
  • Opportunity to chat about what was relevant at this stage in her child’s development
  • Every bit helps especially as a first time mother


  • One mother is starting to read more than before. She feels it has benefited her four year old as well, as she reads with both her baby and older child
  • Learned so much about what books and toys to buy
  • I am reading more with my son

Language skills

  • Through the course one mother found her English improving
  • Found the course helped to develop her written and verbal English

Encouraging lifelong learning

  • Would sign up for another course and recommend it to a friend
  • Want to sign up in September for another course


  • Enjoyed the previous course and returned for more
  • Looking forward to taking part in the cookery class

Recommendations from this course:

  • More question and answer type sessions for future classes
  • Loved the free books especially the touchy feely books
  • Loved the day trip
  • An extra cookery day
  • Further courses to help and support as children get older


Future Plans

Feedback is very positive and mothers want further classes. It is hoped that we can continue to collaborate with the local charity to deliver a number of these courses to those most in need of support.


Appendix 1

General aims of these sessions:

  • To engage early school leaver mothers of young children
  • To increase parent and child interaction on literacy/numeracy activities at home
  • Provide a book/toy per family to use at home
  • For parents to meet others and share useful ideas on supporting their children’s learning
  • To experience a positive, stimulating and friendly learning environment
  • For parents to become positive role models for their children’s learning and to continue their own lifelong learning journey
Topic Content
Sharing Books
  • When can I start to read to my baby?
  • Why is it important?
  • How to do this.
  • What books to use. Joining the library.
Play and routines
  • Why is play and routines so important?
  • What is involved- language, thinking skills
  • Types of play. Safety tips. Reading as part of routine.
Talking together with your baby
  • Why should I talk to my baby?
  • Helping children communicate
  • How reading helps talking. Listening skills
Sharing songs and rhymes
  • What can children learn from rhymes?
  • Listening for patterns
  • What rhymes can we remember?
  • What songs do children sing?  Books with rhymes
Technology and children
  • How much screen time for baby?
  • Making the most of television
  • Digital toys/ books versus traditional toys/books. Online safety tips
  • The importance of parent and child interaction
First aid tips
  • Key topics for keeping small children safe
  • Question and answer session
  • Use of HSE support book for parents
Feeding your baby
  • When to start? Weaning tips
  • What do we use now? Cost versus nutrition
  • Staying healthy Mum and baby.  Three sample meals
  • Visit to Moher Hill Farm, Corofin, Co. Clare
  • Lots of new vocabulary and sensory experiences for children.


Useful websites: 

Still Face Experiment: Dr. Edward Tronick


Appendix 2

Clare Family Learning Project
Invites you to attend a 6 week course


‘My Baby and Me’

Bring your baby along with you


Day:     Friday

Date:   21st March 2014

Time:   9.30 – 11.30am

Place: The Junction, Cloughleigh, Ennis


Each family will get a free book each week for their baby.

It will be fun, friendly and FREE.

Meet other mothers over a cup of tea/coffee and scone.


Contact Mary Flanagan 065.6897645 to book your place

Appendix 3

My Baby and Me – Mum Profile Pre and Post

Mum 7: Son is 11 Months  Pre

Activity Every Day Once a Week Never Comment
Reading  a
Talking  a
Showing  a
Digital Toys  a
Guided Play  a
Messy Play  a
Watching TV  a
Using Apps  a
Visit Library  a

General Comments: She enjoyed the previous course. And is starting to read to her son more than before. She feels it had benefited her 4 year old as well as she reads with both of them.
Mum 7: Son is 15 Months  Post

Activity Every Day Once a Week Never Comment
Reading  a
Talking  a
Showing  a
Digital Toys  a
Guided Play  a
Messy Play  a
Watching TV  a
Using Apps  a
Visit Library  a

General Comments: Found learning about First Aid and sun safety really useful. Through the course Mum 7 found her English improving and was able to read more to her son and her 2 older girls. Would sign up for another course.
Mum 9: Son is 9 Months  Pre

Activity Every Day Once a Week Never Comment
Reading  a
Talking  a
Showing  a
Digital Toys  a
Guided Play  a
Messy Play  a
Watching TV  a
Using Apps  a
Visit Library  a

General Comments: She enjoyed the previous course and found it great to get to know other mums; she remarked that the information that was given in class has been valuable. Is looking forward to being hands on with the food preparation and nutrition class.
Mum 9: Son is 11 Months  Post

Activity Every Day Once a Week Never Comment
Reading  a
Talking  a
Showing  a
Digital Toys  a
Guided Play  a
Messy Play  a
Watching TV  a
Using Apps  a
Visit Library  a

General Comments: Mum found that she had a chance to chat about what was relevant to the stage her son was at e.g. teething, night feeds etc. Would recommend more questions and answer sessions going forward. She remarked on how much she had learned in regards to books and toys to buy, loved the free books especially the touch and feel books. Good to get out and about, meet other mums and her son got to meet other kids. Would sign up for another course and recommend the course to a friend.
Mum 10: Son is 11 Months  No Pre course questionnaire

Activity Every Day Once a Week Never Comment
Reading  a
Talking  a
Showing  a
Digital Toys  a
Guided Play  a
Messy Play  a
Watching TV  a
Using Apps  a
Visit Library  a  Takes her other kids that attend primary School

General Comments: Felt the course helped top develop her English both verbal and written. She is reading more to her son. Loved the books given at each session. Loved the day trip and wants to sign up for another course in September. 
Mum 11: Son is 2 years No Post course questionnaire

Activity Every Day Once a Week Never Comment
Reading  a
Talking  a
Showing  a
Digital Toys  a
Guided Play  a
Messy Play  a
Watching TV  a
Using Apps  a
Visit Library  a

General Comments: Mum has not been to the previous course and is looking forward to her son getting to know other children his own age, learning about communication techniques and reading with her son more.
Mum 12: Son is 4 Months

Activity Every Day Once a Week Never Comment
Reading  a
Talking  a
Showing  a
Digital Toys  a
Guided Play  a
Messy Play  a
Watching TV  a  For the colours
Using Apps  a
Visit Library  a

Mum 12: Son is 7 Months

Activity Every Day Once a Week Never Comment
Reading  a
Talking  a
Showing  a
Digital Toys  a
Guided Play  a
Messy Play  a
Watching TV  a  Baby TV
Using Apps  a
Visit Library  a

General Comments: Enjoyed the course in particular the cookery, food and nutrition. Good to get out and about, meet other mums. Would sign up for another course and recommend the course to a friend.

Mum 13: Son is 2 ½ years No Post course questionnaire

Activity Every Day Once a Week Never Comment
Reading  a
Talking  a
Showing  a
Digital Toys  a
Guided Play  a
Messy Play  a
Watching TV  a
Using Apps  a
Visit Library  a

General Comments: Mum did not attend the previous course. She is looking forward to the First Aid and learning about routines, reading and activities for her son.


Appendix 4

My Baby and Me – Course Diary

The Junction

Today I introduced the class to the course. Some of the participants attended the previous course. The mums completed a Pre Course profile which will give an overview of the activities they participate in with their little ones. I went through the time table for the coming six weeks and asked them for their input into the course content. The majority of mums read to their baby/toddler once a week. We spoke about the recent hand out Caring for Baby and You, recommended reading for parents from the Clare Library and the Public Health Nursing Service. I introduced the topics for the remainder of the course. The mums agreed a day out to the pet farm in Corofin would be great. They were delighted to hear about the First Aid and cookery class along with a visit to the Ennis Library. The topics covered in the class were as follows: Communication and Baby Talk and how Toddlers Learn. We watched part of the TED presentation by Alison Gopnik.

In today’s session we looked at the following topics: Why Routine is so important, Helpful Tips, Benefits to setting Routines, When to start a routine, Keep a Routine when away from Home and Pointers. The mums discussed their use of routines, why they think it is so important, the Good and the Bad experiences when they set up a routine. I demonstrated how to produce a routine chart for morning and night.

Each mum was given 2 blank routine sheets and various pictures.

They organised the pictures according to their routine at home, attached the pictures and filled in the routine beside each image. I asked the mums to include reading into the night time routine using the book that was given out to the group.  The mums broke into groups to have a chat about their routines: what they found worked and what didn’t. Mixing first time mums with the other mums worked well.

Today’s session revolved around useful web sites for parents and apps they can download for babies and toddlers to encourage literacy, numeracy, i.c.t. skills and communication. The mums took a look at the following sites (all Irish sites),,, and We spoke about the links and the advantages of registering with the sites. Some of the mums discussed the sites and apps they used when they were pregnant and how useful they were. Each of the mums downloaded the flowing free android/iphone apps: Toddler Colouring Book, Toddler Counting 123 and Kids ABC Letters, all of which I have used for my kids and am still using. We spoke about safety online for children. Some of the mums in the group have English as a second language; we had a look at the following site for some useful hints and tips: Bilingual Forum Ireland.

The group visited the library today. We were met by Louise a staff member. She told the mums about the facilities available including Internet access, story time for kids, competitions they hold and reading camps (summer holidays). Recently a booklet was launched in conjunction with a mother/ toddler group in Clare and the registered nurses, which detailed useful books for mums to care for their babies, toddlers and kids. Louise showed the mums where they could find these books and other good reads. She then took us to the children’s section where she showed the mums the books to read from Birth to pre-school. All the mums took home application forms to join the library at a later date. The mums interacted great and enjoyed the outing.

In today’s group we discussed the importance of storytelling, the types of books to use and what can child gains from the experience. We looked at a short history of storytelling, the benefits for young children in relation to developing language and literacy and in imparting important life lessons for older children. The group watched various YouTube videos in relation to storytelling. The mums spoke about their experience of storytelling when they were younger. Its sparked great conversation especially between the mums from different ethnic backgrounds.

Useful link

YouTube links: (this links to more videos from the British Council – learning English). link to the British Council web site)

The mums brought in their books from the first session. We used the book the Each Plum Pear Book. The mums discussed how they could play out the story in the book using toys, dolls and teddies at home in order to bring the story to life and pique the interest of the children.

Louise our local Public Health Nurse came to visit the group. Louise spoke about general health and safety for babies to pre-school children in relation to: sun creams, visits to the beach, paddling pools, play sand and sandpits. The mums asked questions in relation to development milestones and when to seek assistance. Louise went through basic first aid: cuts, burns and choking. The mums really loved the session. They each got a copy of the HSE Child care Books: Birth to Six Months, Six Months to 2 Years and 2 to 5 years.

Links to all books:

This session was about Food and Nutrition given by Noelle, a cookery tutor. It involved a demonstration in which the chef cooked three meals for babies moving onto solids and as toddlers. The meals included: Mince with carrot and tomatoes, Vegetarian dinner and avocado with pear.  All of the mums took part in the cooking and their toddlers tasted some foods for the first time. All of the mums loved the session. Each mum received a copy of the First 1000 days which included the meals prepared in class. The che spoke about pre preparing, freezing and cooking meals.

Mothers and babies visited Moher Hill farm, toddler children enjoyed feeding the animals and being out in the fresh air. It was an opportunity for the mothers to talk informally as a group and learn about other family friendly venues around the county from other parents. Mothers hope to continue on in September with more learning as their children get older.

Appendix 5

Voices of Parents on course completion:

Parent 1: I learned something new every week. The books were brilliant, fabulous – touchy feely books. We learned a lot from what you were telling us – what books to buy or jigsaws. Different types ‘cos you wouldn’t know, the ones they can go into their mouths. I felt I learned a lot from the course.

Parent 2: I’d definitely recommend it to other mothers. It’s great for ourselves to get out a bit ‘cos you’re in the house everyday, and everyday you know dress yourself up and get out. It’s good for you. It’s really great to get out. It’s good for the babies too. They’re looking at each other and pulling at books and toys.

Parent 3: I like the course because it’s helping me to understand how I care with my children. It’s helping me a lot even to bigger, more English. It’s very nice I enjoyed. If it’s possible to join the course in September, I’ll be very happy. I enjoyed the course. It’s wonderful. Yes I would recommend it.

Parent 4:  To get information from others. You might have different questions you could ask every week. Every bit helps especially as a first time mother.

What I found brilliant was the questions regarding the different stages they are at. Talking to others, talking about teething or food, what’s relevant at that time. E.g. One year old foods that they should be eating. Every week different questions.

Parent 5: I liked the cookery day. I liked the cookery best. Progress for whatever stage of foods they are going onto. Maybe an extra cookery day. Help with children as they are getting older.

Parent 6: The course has helped me to have more contact with my baby and how it can save my baby from anything and actually I enjoyed it. It was lovely. Yes, I would recommend it. I would like to join in September because it’s very, very nice and very good. I enjoyed the day out.

Tutor Evaluation Sheet for learners