Engaging in education

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There are many ways that parents and families can be engaged in and support their children’s education.

Home learning environment

Research shows that taking an interest in your child’s learning can make a big difference to how well they do. Making your home a positive home learning environment plays a big part in this, no matter how old your child is.

What do we mean by the home learning environment?

The home learning environment is the combination of everything you and your family do and the spaces your child has access to that affect your child's development and learning. This includes the opportunities your child has to play and interact with books, objects and everyday experiences to help them make sense of their world. The most important feature though, are their interactions with people who provide the love, security, encouragement, communication and positive role models to help your child to thrive. A good home learning environment encourages children and young people to have positive attitudes to learning, to be curious, and to have confidence in themselves.

What can I do?

The time that your family spends together is very important for your child’s development and wellbeing. Family mealtimes have been shown to be a particularly important time for this, no matter what age your child is. If you can, try to make time and space for family mealtimes. Switch the television and other electronic devices off, and eat together at a table.

Daily physical activity helps your child’s development by providing opportunities to move, play, learn and develop skills. It also helps with their mental wellbeing. Encouraging your child to take part in energetic play is important. Remember that it is good for you too. Are there things that you could do as a family to get you all more active?

Daily outdoor exercise plays an important role in supporting your child’s physical development and emotional wellbeing and learning.

Early Years

First and foremost, your baby or toddler needs time to interact with you or other special adults. This helps them to both make sense of their world and develop their own responses. They need adults who provide close interactions such as eye contact and communicating with them. Time and patience are important to help babies and young children to thrive and develop well. They are naturally curious and need to explore their world. They do not need expensive toys - you can provide access to lots of different everyday objects and natural materials for them to investigate which need not cost a fortune. Your baby or toddler will love to play with wooden or stainless steel spoons and whisks from the kitchen drawer, or a clean pinecone, or wooden clothes pegs while you watch them. From their earliest days they will enjoy looking at simple picture and board books.

As your child gets older, they will become more independent and ask lots of questions. You may notice that they often repeat actions as they learn. This is called schematic play and is a normal part of development. Babies need time and patience from you to work things out. They will learn a lot by helping you with simple tasks around the home like matching socks and sorting washing into lights and darks. You can encourage them to develop their skills by asking them to set the table or help you prepare food.

School Years and homework

Children and young people will need time and a place to do their homework or study at home. You can help by finding a place at home where they can work and keep them from being interrupted. You can read more about supporting your child as they study for exams in the supporting study section.

Parents often worry that they don’t have the knowledge to support their children with their homework. If you are not sure how you can help or if the information is not in an accessible format, please contact your child’s school. However, the research shows that you make a big difference to your child’s attainment just by showing an interest in their work and encouraging them. You don’t need to know the answers!

Parents' meetings

Events such as open days and parents' afternoons or evenings give you opportunities to meet your child's teacher(s), to find out what your child is doing at school and how they are getting on. These are also opportunities to share information about your child and their learning.

If you require an interpreter to be in attendance, please notify the school of this as early as possible. Should you be unable to attend parents’ meetings or events, the school may be able to offer alternative options.

The school will value your views on how you feel your child is coping at school. Sharing information about any particular worries or difficulties you have noticed, or your child has raised with you, will help the teacher(s) to support learning.

It is important to recognise and support children and young people's achievements. Sharing information about what your child is doing out of school (for example interests, hobbies, volunteering, or other activities your child is involved in) can help teacher(s) build on learning at school.

You may receive a report before the parents' afternoon/evening. Spend time looking over this with your child. Prepare any questions you or your child would like to raise or any concerns you may have.

What can I ask my child's teacher?

Some questions you may want to raise:

  • How do you know how well my child is doing?
  • What evidence is gathered to see what my child knows, understands and can do? Is there any way we can help to gather evidence of our child’s learning to support the school?
  • What are my child’s strengths and how can they improve?
  • Can you explain what my child will be doing next?
  • How will the school continue to keep in touch to let me know how my child is doing?
  • How can I continue to give my views about my child’s learning to support their progress e.g. class blogs, e-portfolios, learning logs?
  • How can I let the school know about my child’s learning and achievements outside school e.g. interests, hobbies, volunteering, clubs etc?
  • What can I do at home to help support my child’s next steps?
  • What should I do if I think my child needs support?
  • How is the information about my child’s progress and learning being passed on at key transitions?
  • What opportunities are there for my child to contribute to the life of the school?

Further information

Resources

Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) – Family Friendly concert: Tara the Tugboat with BSL