Home Learning Early years in sEttings and at home


'The Early Years Foundation Stage has an important and influential role in engaging parents in home learning.' Provider influence on the early home learning environment (EHLE), DFE research report 2010

Making connections between the setting and the home environment will ensure that learning in Early Years is a continuous process and that nothing takes place in isolation. Parents are involved in all areas of the EYFS. The practitioner in the Early Years' setting can support, lead and work with parents to ensure all children have access to a whole range of activities. This will enable them to have fun, be safe and learn,

Children from a very young age are the main instigators of their learning. They are naturally inquisitive, have a need to explore, find out, gain new experiences, build on their learning and try completely new things at times. How they do that and the environment surrounding them gives opportunities and learning experiences.

Why is it so important?

Play can use imagination, where shall we go?

Involvement with parents is key to ensure that learning is taking place at home as well as in the setting. There are huge differences between homes and families, and the ways in which parents feel empowered or are able to help and support their children.

Key Findings from the DFE research report as below, shows that there were a number of key findings which could influence practice:

  • Getting more impact from existing staff through culture change to promote good practice and occasional in-house training
  • There is significant scope to improve staff awareness of the importance of engaging with parents about early home learning. This could be achieved at little or no cost by ensuring that all staff are confident to provide early home learning information and advice.
  • Confident staff are more likely to readily engage with parents on a day-to-day basis by welcoming them into settings and explaining face to face what parents can do at home.
  • There should be a real enthusiasm for this because staff themselves feel they lack training. One-third of practitioners would like more help and information about engaging parents in early home learning.
  • This work is being carried out by some practitioners at minimal cost because it mostly involves integrating small changes into everyday practitioner styles and behaviour.

The EYFS supports early home learning (EHL) The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) has an important and influential role in engaging parents in home learning. The EYFS structure was viewed as a ‘bridge’ to those parents who are seen as needing encouragement to be more involved in their child’s learning.

Doing more to spread best practice will also support EHL . Some nurseries and other providers working with parents, including ‘hard-to-reach’ groups such as parents newly arrived in the UK or fathers, also demonstrated best practice in supporting early home learning which could be shared more widely at relatively low cost apart from the associated indirect cost of ensuring effective leadership in early years settings'.

The Cambridgeshire Early Years Quality Framework includes a section under Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Effective Partnerships. This is the area to record and provide evidence to EHL, Early Home Learning. The criteria for Minimal, Established and Aiming Higher give good examples of working with parents.

Books are a good start and ensuring that every child has access to books is one of the most important factors in sharing learning between parent and child and in developing understanding and shared communication.

Home Learning Activities are a never ending list. Children learn from all opportunities presented to them.

The main areas of home learning for parents are;

  • reading to the child,
  • taking their child to the library
  • child playing with letters
  • helping their child to learn the alphabet,
  • parent teaching their child numbers or counting
  • parent teaching their child songs, poems or nursery rhymes
  • Child painting or drawing at home.

But we all know that this is just the start... so what kind of ideas can you think of?

For example... large, small, colours, shapes, what are we going to do with wellies, water, being wet, wet and dry...

In the Early Years Foundation Stage Areas of Learning and Development, Prime Areas and Specific Areas are full of learning opportunities which are broken down into different aspects. By focusing on these areas we can find a way to work with parents in ensuring they are able to be fully involved in the child's learning, supporting in the best ways and working with the setting on their child's learning and development.

From babies to pre-school , activities are linked to the child's development stage and suggestions can be made for further learning at home.

Children attend Early Years settings for different amounts of time so opportunities at home can vary.

Parents have a range of time available for supporting their children and this can vary according to lifestyle, work, training, understanding, family commitments

The Key is Communication!

How do we let parents know whats been happening in the setting?

  • Visits to the setting to watch and be with their child
  • Involvement through ways parents can help
  • Talking with staff at beginning and end of the day
  • Involvement in records and assessments, often online
  • Activities at home

Activities at home

Being a pop star!

prime Areas

  • Making relationships
  • Self Confidence and self awareness
  • Managing feelings and behaviour
  • Moving and Handling
  • Health and Self Care
  • Listening and attention
  • Understanding
  • Speaking

Specific Areas

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Numbers
  • Shape,space and measures
  • People and communities
  • The world
  • Technology
  • Exploring and using media and materials
  • Being imaginative

Books,cards and bags

To start the Home Learning, develop an area in the setting where Home Learning materials are available.

Decide which method is best for your setting and for the activities. It could be ; written in a book between setting and home, on cards which are brought back to the setting when completed, small bags with books or resources to go home. Whichever method you use, it is always useful to record where resources have gone and how successful they were.

Sue Martin FRSA Early Years Consultant


Sue Martin

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