Evidence from studies by the government shows that the level of home learning in the majority of families stays the same once a child starts in a funded childcare place. However in families where adults are not in employment, the level of home learning DROPS when the child starts a funded childcare place. Therefore our role is to maintain existing levels of learning and prevent parents from doing less. How can we do this?
Settling into school - one of the concerns we often hear about is that parents aren't sure how to support their child with the transition between pre-school/nursery and school. This is a hard area to tackle because often parents see being school ready as a child being about to write their name and recognise numbers and while this is helpful it's not as important as other areas. We worked with our cluster of local schools to come up with information to support parents with this area and afterward we produced a similar sheet for put onto Ace.
Clear information - one of the things we have found is that most parents don't feel confident to know what it is their child should be doing at different ages and stages. While we know that all children progress at different rates, the EYFS helps to give a clear picture of our expectations. We created a series of information sheets for parents to help recognise some of the things their child might be doing in different areas. The sheets aren't exhaustive but give some indications taken from the 30-50 and 40-60 month stages. Click on the picture to find all of the sheets.
Current learning in class - We have used our class page on the website to explain to parents what we are doing in class. This helps parents to talk to their child about what they have been learning so they can support/continue with this at home. This has led to lots of children bringing things in from home that they have done with their parents, photos of things that are relevant, donations of items to support learning in specific areas (for example Chinese New Year) and even parents offering to come into class and talk to the children.
Family activities - one of the ways we have engaged parents is to have Stay and Play sessions. We have a friend who calls them Stay and Torture sessions because she finds them stressful! It can certainly be stressful but can also be really worthwhile if the activities on offer really support parents to engage with their child's learning. We have had sessions that focus on supporting a particular area - for example lots of phonic games and activities. We have also run sessions at the beginning of a year so that adults come for the first session with their child.
Reading at home - one of the focus areas for our school age children is reading at home. We created a very simple sheet to support parents with reading with their child.
Learning through play - we also know that some parents struggle to help their child at home because they don't feel that they understand how we teach at school - often it is perceived that we teach in a different way than they were taught at school. We made a sheet to explain how the EYFS works and how we work with their children. (Apologies for the repetition of the word motivation - I was very motivated when I wrote it!)
Fun at home - on our website we have provided parents and children with a 'fun at home' page. It contains links to online games we have played in school and videos we may have watched. There is information about how we teach phonics, including pronunciation guides for the sounds and high frequency and common exception words. We have provided story map that we have made with the children so they can retell their stories at home. We also put information about our story bag sessions so that children can retell or write about the stories we have been creating at home. (For more Story Bag info you can watch our video here) We have also put information about our Super Sentences on the page so that children can continue to write at home if they want to. (For more information about Super Sentences you can watch our video here.)
'Homework' - We have never been very strict with applying a homework policy in our settings. We have concentrated on supporting parents to read with their child at home, rather than pushing them to complete set homework. Having said that we know that some of the families enjoy doing things at home and so we occasionally set little 'projects' for families to have a go at. These have included:
Class Dojo - we've talked about Class Dojo a few times before. First off it's free! Think of it as a stripped down version of Facebook - it is not public though! Parents sign up and all families in a class can see the class feed/page. Each child can have their own page where both staff and parents can post notes, photos and videos to. Parents access it through an app on their phone and they get a little notification when there is something posted, so we've found it really useful for supporting home learning. We've posted little ideas, reminders, activities etc.
So what do you do to support home learning? Let us know!