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.
The home learning environment is the combination of everything within your home, and the time your child spends out and about, that affect their development and learning. These include the availability of toys and books, outings, and having space and time to learn. Most important feature though, are the people who provide the love, security, encouragement, conversation 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.
The time that your family spends talking 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.
Physical activity and sport can help your child’s development, provide opportunities to move, play, learn and develop skills. It also helps with their mental wellbeing. Encouraging your child to take part in energetic play outdoors is important. Remember that it is good for you too. Are there things that you could do as a family to get you all outdoors and more active?
Family outings and trips also play an important role in supporting your child’s learning. These might be to support something your child is learning about in their early learning and childcare setting or school, or just something your family is interested in. Remember you don’t have to travel far, places of interest might be just a short bus ride away. Access to many museums, parks, and historical buildings in Scotland is free.
Your baby or toddler needs time with you or other special adults. They will respond to eye contact, talking, and singing songs and nursery rhymes. They need to explore the world and have access to lots of different everyday objects and natural materials 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 pine cone or wooden clothes pegs while you watch them. Even at this age 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. 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.
Age appropriate toys and books are important. These do not need to be the latest, or most expensive. Libraries are great for having access to a wide range of books and showing your child that you enjoy and value reading too. You can find out from your library about Bookbug sessions. Some areas also have toy libraries.
Children and young people will need time and a place to do their homework or study at home. Ideally this will be somewhere that doesn’t need to be cleared away once they have finished each day. 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 please ask 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!
Learning at Home – Parentzone Scotland resources
Read, Write, Count - a national initiative which aims to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of Scotland’s children.
PlayTalkRead - encourages parents and families to include easy and fun reading, writing and counting activities in their everyday lives.
Bookbug bags – aims to encourage parents and children to share and enjoy books together.
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