A caring early years teacher has found the perfect way to keep her young students positive during lockdown — by hiding stones around their village to encourage them to be kind.
The young children of Happy Days Play School have spent the week looking for the #findthekind hidden stones while on their walks around Ratoath, County Meath.
Once they find them, they have to carry out an act of kindness and then sanitise the stones and re-hide them elsewhere.
The aim from teacher, Eilish Balfe, is to flood the village and social media with kindness and positivity at a time when some young children are anxious about the Covid-19 situation.
"Myself and Sarah Coyne have hidden 15 stones around the village for the children to find and it's been amazing so far. I've had messages from parents that the children have made beds, helped their parents around the house or even just made sure their siblings were ok."
"The children are missing their friends and out of routine and these times can cause some anxiety in children so we just hope for the next three weeks to spread a bit of connectivity and positivity around," she added.
Eilish, who teaches up to 42 children in two classes at the school, has been working hard to make sure the children still feel part of the group since the school was closed in March as part of the Covid-19 restrictions.
"I think it's very important to link in with the children so I've been reading bedtime stories online three times a week and I've sent them all an invisible piece of string so they are all still attached to each other."
The children are also still in touch with the local nursing home, where they used to visit patients with dementia once a week: "I know the people in the home and the children are missing each other so the children write emails or send me pictures and I send them into the nurses to relay to the patients. Equally the patients have drawn the children rainbows, which the nurses have stuck on the outside railings."
"I've also explained to the children that they may see elderly people on their walks who might appreciate a kind smile or a big wave but I've also urged them to make sure they step back on the footpath and let them pass."
"We closed two months ago and I'm missing them like mad. I just think it's vital that we all stay in touch and make sure they all know how important they are to each other, especially when they are apart," she said.