Category archives: family learning

Monday, 22 January 2018

The benefits of rhymes and rhyme times

ORd6FI loved attending this very popular library rhyme time in Enfield some time ago.

Head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman recently said ‘Children who can sing a song and know a story off by heart aged four are better  prepared for school. Nursery rhymes provide a collective experience – and teach a little bit of social history to boot.’

I too am a big fan of rhymes, and of rhyme times, and with several courses on effective rhyme times this term and next, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to their benefits for children’s language and literacy development and more widely. I gave a synopsis in a previous blog. Here are some expert views.

‘Becoming aware of rhyming sounds boosts brain activity.’ Alice Sterling Honig

‘Research has shown a clear connection between the awareness of rhyme in toddlers and the development of reading skills. It is a better indicator even than the child’s IQ.’ D P Bryant

‘The better children are at detecting rhymes the quicker and more successful they will be at learning to read.’ L Bradley

‘The children best equipped to tackle serious books later on are the ones with a good grounding in the “nonsense” of nursery rhymes.’ Ann Henderson

And of course rhyme times benefit not just children. A fabulous example of family learning, they boost parents’ and carers’ skills and confidence. They change attitudes. They foster family bonding. They help combat isolation and build social cohesion. Importantly too, they create new, hopefully long-term, visitors for the libraries, museums and other settings that deliver them.

It is well worth looking at The Arts Council and ASCEL ‘Rhyme Time and Seven Quality Principles Toolkit’.

To end, a parent’s view, posted recently on Twitter: ‘First-ever Rhyme Time today and we all loved it!’

Monday, 27 February 2017

Family learning takes many forms – a photographic overview

A little while ago I blogged about the importance of family learning and gave some links to sources of information. This time, I thought I would share a few of the photos I showed on a recent course on the topic for an inspiring group of community development workers, children’s centre staff and library staff. They give an indication of the many forms good family learning can take.Golders Green rhyme time 2Rhyme times are fabulous in terms of fun, and for developing social and emotional skills and language. This is a great one run by Barnet Libraries.Family Drop-in 003Enjoyable activities like this drop-in event at Orleans House Gallery support family bonding and give ideas for things to do at home.Bedtime reading event - 3There’s nothing to beat story times for building a love of books and reading. Lots of engagement in this Bromley Libraries bedtime story hour.Marlborough session 3 -2Everyone enjoys creative activites, and they support social and artistic skills. I was very lucky to be part of Historic Royal Palaces’ Curious Stories project.DSCN0274I loved contributing to this Barnet Libraries project. Lots of fun, and everyone got a real sense of achievement, an important aspect of family learning.Fitz & Museum of Classical Archaeology 1For family learning to work it must be enjoyable. This is a wonderful collaboration between the Museum of Classical Archaeology and Fitzwilliam Museum.cardiff storyResearch shows that family learning supports well-being. You can see how it happens in these photos from a Cardiff Story event.Liverpool & Enfield 2Family learning is inclusive and intergenerational. Don’t forget grandparents! These photos were taken at events in Liverpool and Enfield libraries.prehistoric animalLots of good family learning is very informal, as in this event at Crealy Adventure Park mounted by the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.Oak20Lastly, a reminder that play is an important part of family learning activities. Here is an Enfield Libary Service toddler time.

Family learning is transformative. For anyone interested in finding out more about its benefits and ways to support it effectively, there are still places available on two courses I’m giving later this term: Sheffield on 23 March and Cardiff on 28 March. I also deliver bespoke in-service family learning training for local authorities, schools, museums, and other organisations.

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.