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, 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.

What can I do?

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.

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, talking to them, and singing songs and nursery rhymes 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 pine cone 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

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 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!

Further information

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.

Play and learn - 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.

You can let us know if this article is helpful, or if you have suggestions for other articles, by emailing enquiries@educationscotland.gov.scot