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This October sees the return of the Family Learning Festival, which is a national celebration recognising and promoting the learning that can be achieved through family life. When you think about it, family life is how most of us learn in the first precious few years of life, and the Family Learning Festival seeks to inspire us all to not let those moments slip, but to encourage them throughout our whole life.

Like many festivals, it is made up of a lot of different individual events across the whole country with organisations of all types and sizes coming together under the collective umbrella to challenge themselves, discover new interests and passions and put on some exciting learning events in different and unexpected places as well as in schools, colleges, libraries and museums. The festival is coordinated by the Campaign for Learning, which aims to build a culture of lifelong learning everywhere.

As they say on their website:
“We are likely to be happier, healthier, longer living and wealthier if we are active learners. We benefit as individuals, families, employers and communities when learning helps us to adapt, build resilience and solve the challenges we face.”

Who can join in?

The Family Learning Festival is for everyone since it promotes lifelong learning. You can be a grandmother wanting to learn karate or a 6-year-old wanting to learn to swim, everyone is welcome as long as the learning activities are fun, informal, inclusive and intergenerational so all members of the family can be included. There is a lot of data suggesting that intergenerational learning is a benefit to both parties and ‘informal’ means it takes place outside the realms of the traditional classroom.

Examples of this could be a family learning history by visiting a stately home, or learning about the nature in rockpools during a visit to a beach; or working out some physics such as the relationship between speed, distance and time whilst visiting a theme park!

What are the dates?

The official festival runs from the 15th to the 31st October, but events are run all year round as part of the Campaign for Learning’s remit. What is more important is that family learning is encouraged at times and days that suit the organisers and the families they are trying to attract, rather than sticking rigidly to the dates in October.

Why take part?

The first answer to this question is because it’s fun and will help your children learn in different ways. Secondly, it can help you extend the work you are doing in your setting to a wider audience and hopefully help inspire them with a love of learning that can continue through a lifetime.

Thirdly, some statistics from an impact study from last year’s festival said:

  • 79% of Family Learning Festival organisers reached new audiences as a result of their activities
  • 74% of organisers developed new learning opportunities through involvement in the Festival
  • 55% of organisations developed new partnerships
  • 73% of organisers ran events that were attended by disadvantaged families or families at risk of social exclusion
  • 84% of organisations highlighted further learning opportunities as part of their activities
  • 96% of organisations indicated they would get involved in the Family Learning Festival again

What’s on?

You can find out what’s happening in your area from the official website (see end of article) and you can upload events if you are running them yourself too, to help publicise them. There are also lots of ideas on the website for things you can do, such as how to create a miniature book inspired by the outdoors, and a “pack your suitcase with Paddington” activity too. There are social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter to look out for and follow too to keep up with the latest information. One of the most useful pages on the site is related to grants or funds you could apply for from various charities or foundations including grants for arts and science projects. These could be for as little as £300 to over £15,000 so there is something for everyone.

2022 theme – “Inspiring curiosity”

According to the FLF website…
“Curiosity is a strong and natural desire to know about something. It is an intrinsic, instinctual and essential part of life. It is linked to all areas of human development that involve learning, skill development or knowledge acquisition.”

As early years practitioners, you already know how important it is to engage a young person’s curiosity and the important role that adults play in this, so this year’s theme fits well with early years staff’s experience and expertise. Obviously, we want to encourage play in all things, but make sure there are proper safety measures around before you send all the little ones home to explore every nook and cranny,

What can you do to promote the Festival?

One of the best things that you can do in your setting this year would be to help pass on this knowledge to your parents and carers to encourage learning to continue in the home environment. Some children struggle with the formal settings of the education system, yet they may thrive in a more informal setting such as the family home or the homes of other relatives and friends.

According to the organisers:

“Learning as a family helps children and adults to become confident, lifelong learners. It helps children develop essential skills and achieve at school. It helps grown-ups to reconnect to learning and transform their lives. Family learning can help families tackle disadvantage and improve their life chances. This year’s theme aims to inspire a love of shared learning through curiosity.”

So you could:

  • Set up an “Old Curiosity Shop” and invite family members to bring in some curious objects they could talk about to the children such as an old washboard, a item from a foreign holiday or an interesting garden plant
  • Organise some activities which children can specifically do at home with their parents, such as a quiz or questionnaire
  • Get the children to make a family tree with the help of their family and/or carers, including photographs and some information about where and when people lived

Family Learning Awards

There are even awards from the Campaign for Learning to reward the most imaginative, inclusive and innovative learning and there are 3 categories to enter including one especially for the early years. The categories are:

  • Family Learning in the Early Years
  • Building Brighter Futures through Learning
  • Family Learning to Support Health and Well-being

https://www.familylearningfestival.com

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