Category archives: family learning

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Family learning – sources of information, ideas and inspiration

De Bohun 10 - 3#

New research shows that pupils whose parents take little interest in their learning are far more likely to drop out of school than their peers – one further piece of evidence of the value of supporting family learning. I was a family literacy tutor for many years and saw first hand the massive impact a family learning approach can have not just on skills, but also on attitudes and well-being. The photo is of a session I was involved in. With several courses on family learning coming up (some of them open to all interested practitioners) I’ve been looking again at the benefits and at successful strategies for engaging parents, carers and the wider family. I have found these valuable sources of information and good practice:

Bookstart
Booktrust
Campaign for Learning
DfE Review of Best Practice in Parental Engagement
Discovering New Worlds: Linking Family Activities and Events to Further Learning
Early Literacy Practices at Home
Family Learning
Family Learning Works: The Inquiry into Family Learning in England and Wales
Family Maths Toolkit
Family Matters: The Importance of Family Support for Young People’s Reading
Getting Children to Love Reading
Kids and Family Reading Report
Kids in Museums
Learning and Work Institute
National Family Learning Network
National Literacy Trust
Quick Reads
Reading for Pleasure
Springboard Parent’s Little Guide to Helping Children Read
Talking Point
Teacher Network Top Tips for Engaging Parents in Learning
Top Marks Reading Tips
Top Tips for Engaging Dads
Words for Life

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Family literacy – evidence on the benefits of family involvement in children’s reading

learning to readOver the years I have delivered many dozens of family literacy workshops. The photo is from one of them. I’m delighted to be giving a course on family literacy tomorrow. Here is some of the research evidence I will be drawing on.

The most accurate predictor of a pupil’s achievement is not parental income or social status but the extent to which parents are able to create a home environment that encourages learning.
source: National Literacy Trust

In the primary years parental involvement in a child’s learning has more impact on attainment than the school itself.
source: Campaign for Learning

Parental involvement in their child’s reading has been found to be the most important determinant of language and emergent literacy.
source: A Bus, M van Ijzendoorn and A Pellegrini, Joint Book Reading Makes for Success in Learning to Read

The earlier parents become involved in their children’s literacy practices, the more profound the results and the longer-lasting the effects.
source: R L Mullis etc, Early literacy outcomes and parent involvement

Parental involvement and engagement and parents’ reading frequency are major predictors of children’s reading frequency and enjoyment.
source: Kids and Family Reading

Parents who promote a view that reading is a valuable and worthwhile activity have children who are motivated to read for pleasure.
source: L Baker and D Scher, Beginning Readers’ Motivation for Reading in Relation to Parental Beliefs and Home Reading Experiences

Young people who get a lot of encouragement to read from their mother or father are more likely to perceive themselves as readers, to enjoy reading, to read frequently and to have positive attitudes towards reading compared to young people who do not get any encouragement to read from their mother or father. Children are twice as likely to read outside of class if they are encouraged to read by their mother or father a lot.
source: National Literacy Trust

15-year-olds whose parents have the lowest occupational status but who are highly engaged in reading obtain higher average reading scores than students whose parents have high or medium occupational status but who report to be poorly engaged in reading.
source: Reading for Change

Training parents to teach their children reading skills can be more than twice as effective as encouraging parents to listen to their children read.
source: Review of Best Practice in Parental Engagement: Practitioners Summary

All in all, a very compelling case for doing everything possible to engage parents, carers and the wider family in supporting their children’s reading.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Working with babies and under 5s in museums, galleries, libraries and archives – useful guidelines and case studies

GruffaloI am so impressed by the Forestry Commission’s Gruffalo activities. I watched loads of little children totally enthralled as they followed the trail in Westonbirt Arboretum. Such a captivating and inspiring idea.

I’ve been giving lots of training on effective provision for babies and under 5s in museums, galleries, libraries and archives. It’s great to have the opportunity to explore good practice in depth, identifying ways to support very young children’s learning and development, and discussing how to engage them, and their parents, carers and families. I love this picture of a Dinky Dragons session at Cardiff Story, where I gave some courses recently.DSC00355I thought it might be helpful to share some of the publications, guidelines and case studies I have found useful and informative.

Library Services from Birth to Five: Delivering the Best Start will be also very helpful I’m sure, though I’m very biased, having contributed a chapter.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Courses on working with children in museums – my training in Qatar

MIAI finally have time to reflect on the training I gave in Doha for UCL Qatar earlier this month. What a privilege to work there. The training venue was the stunning Museum of Islamic Art.

The museum scene in Qatar is very exciting, with lots of new institutions in the planning stages, including an amazing Children’s Museum. Although it has no building yet, staff are already doing ground-breaking work. My training was primarily for museum practitioners, from there and other museums, but I was delighted to have some library delegates too.

The first course was on provision for babies and under 5s. We talked about early child development and the role of cultural organisations in supporting it. There were great discussions on effective activities for families with young children, and lovely ideas for making them enjoyable and fully participative.

Day two was on working with primary age children. I loved the debates about how children learn, and ways to engage them and break down barriers to use – not least that there is not yet a culture of museum visits in Qatar. Some brilliant plans were made for supporting formal education and family learning.

The last day’s course was on working with children with special educational needs. The discussions on learning difficulties and strategies for nurturing SEN children’s learning and enjoyment were excellent. I was tremendously impressed with the initiatives delegates devised and are going now to put in place – wonderful inclusive, multi-sensory, interactive approaches.

Working in Qatar was an extraordinary opportunity. I learnt so much and met fascinating people. Many thanks to everyone for making me feel so welcome.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Supporting children’s reading – ideas and tips for parents and carers

First Steps 6-09 021My last blog was on family literacy. This time I’m focusing on how parents and carers can make reading attractive. I love all the reading going on in this family reading workshop I gave.

It’s good to see bedtime reading is on the rise. There’s no better way to help children view reading as worthwhile and fun than reading to them. You don’t have to be a great reader: looking at the pictures together and making up stories spreads a love of books. If reading at bedtime doesn’t work for you, fit it in at a time that does – at bathtime perhaps, or on the bus. If your child demands the same book again and again, it’s a testament to your success. Please go on reading it! You can always read something else as well to save your sanity, or maybe someone else can do the honours sometimes. And do keep reading to your child when they can read, so they know reading and enjoyment go hand in hand.

You’ll find lots of useful tips on the Words for Life website and on this helpful infographic. I totally agree that children should see parents and carers reading for themselves, and I like the emphasis on discussing books, and on borrowing from the library. There are some great ideas here too. As the author stresses, children need to make their own choices of books. Everyone reads better when the book is one they enjoy. Joke books, puzzle books, the Minecraft Annual, the Guinness Book of Records, they are all stepping stones to wider reading.

Reading isn’t just about books of course. I found learning to read difficult. Comics shared with my mother were my pathway into the written word, so I’m a big fan of those, and of magazines. Looking things up in catalogues or the back pages of the paper, following recipes together, checking emails and texts all make reading an everyday experience, and help children feel they can do it.

When your child is reading to you, listen supportively. Give lots of praise and concentrate on what they get right, rather than mistakes. That way they get a sense of achievement. Don’t forget children learn to read in different ways and at different rates. Comparing progress doesn’t help anybody. How lucky for me that my parents didn’t worry that I was a late reader. They read to me, so I always knew books and reading were special, and that’s what mattered.