Whether you’re a parent or a practitioner, the importance of educating children outside, as well as inside, the classroom, can never be underestimated. Although the traditional ‘nuclear’ family has changed considerably over the years, it doesn’t seem to have had an effect on the desire of parents, grandparents, carers and blended families to learn together, regardless of how the family is made up!
What is “Family Learning”?
‘Family learning’ enables families of all shapes and sizes to learn in a relaxed and fun atmosphere, which helps reinforce the importance of learning at home, outside the environment of the childcare setting, or classroom. It allows parents and carers to reconnect to learning and gives them an insight into how their children learn - which in turn helps to understand how to support them better.
The Family Learning Festival
The UK’s Family Learning Festival celebrates the values of learning as a family. It runs from 19th October until 3rd November and is organised by the Campaign for Learning, the national charity that aims to build a culture of learning everywhere.
“Family learning refers to any learning activity that involves both children and adult family members, where learning outcomes are intended for both, and that contributes to a culture of learning in the family.”
Schools and nurseries, libraries, museums, galleries and attractions get involved every year and put on brilliant and creative events, showcasing ideas and learning opportunities that families can do afterwards.
You can find out what events are taking place near you by visiting the Family Learning Festival website at familylearningfestival.com – here, you can also find some great ideas to hold your own event!
Why learn as a family?
- It really does make a difference to children’s achievement. Research suggests that the learning we do at home is the biggest influence on the achievement of 3-to 7-year-olds.
- Learning together as a family makes for an enjoyable and friendly environment. This can help build confidence and encourage us to try new things.
- Parents and adult family members can help children foster a love of learning that will help them throughout life e.g. we learn to read at school but also learn to love stories at home.
- It can inspire parents too. Adults who take part in family learning often discover a new thirst for learning, which can open up new opportunities.
Did you know?
- Children only spend up to 20% of their waking hours in school
- A four-year-old can ask up to 400 ‘why’ questions a day!
- Kids are brilliant learners! By age 5, they will know over 3,000 words.
- At the age of 6, we will have learned half of our adult vocabulary!
We know that the majority of children learn best when they are doing something for a real purpose….and, “just because they want to”, of course! So, playing games that bring to life and contextualise what the children learn within the childcare setting, is a great way for parents and carers to support this learning.
Engage and educate!
Real-life events and day-to-day activities enrich children’s understanding, by putting these experiences into action. Here are a few which can easily be started in the childcare setting and then continued and extended at home:
Family history and culture sharing:
demonstrating what a ‘family tree’ is can encourage the children to talk about where they come from – they can work at home to make their own family tree and share it with the others at their childcare setting.
During story time, they can learn about different cultures and then discuss at home and bring something in which relates to their particular surroundings – e.g. a pebble from the beach where they live, or a leaf from a walk in the woods, or something that symbolises their particular culture.
Counting the pennies:
Playing ‘shop keepers’ at nursery can easily be put into practice while out shopping with family. Counting coins and pointing out groceries is an excellent example of fun family learning.
Learning as a family can help us to become confident, lifelong learners with all the benefits that brings - from better health to being happier! Family learning supports children to achieve at school and can be transformative, helping to find new passions and interests, and realise our aspirations through further learning.