Early Years

Working with Parents

Working with Parents

‘Highly successful strategies engage parents, including those from different groups, in their children’s learning, both in the setting and at home.’
The outstanding descriptor, Early Years Inspection Handbook, Ofsted (2018)

‘Research consistently shows that what parents do with their children at home is far more important to their achievement than their social class or level of education.’
Professor Charles Desforges

Working with parents to influence the home learning environment is a key aspect of Early Years practice. Parents are vitally important in influencing their child’s development and achievement.  Sharing books, developing their child’s vocabulary and singing songs and rhymes will have a huge impact.

‘By 5 years of age, a child’s vocabulary can predict his/her educational success and outcomes at age 30’
ICAN: Early Language Development Project (2012)

A variety of simple and consistent strategies can be employed to support parents with this, particularly those parents who are ‘hard to reach’.

  • Ensure that all your staff and parents know how vitally important parents are in influencing their children’s learning and development. Research suggests that children’s achievement is influenced 80% by family and community and 20% by schools.
  • Inform your parents that sharing books, chatting and singing songs and rhymes are the key ways that they can support their child’s learning.
  • Provide parents with simple, ongoing suggestions, often related to what you have been doing in the setting/school, e.g. build a tower out of boxes from the kitchen cupboards, create a den in the garden or lounge, allow your child to style your hair. (This last suggestion was given by one setting after the children had enjoyed playing in the Hairdressers’ Role-Play area.)
  • When inviting parents into an event, make clear that it is non-threatening and fun. Some settings and schools do activities such as digging, making bird feeders and decorating boxes rather than a formal workshop. Provide good quality refreshments! Homemade cakes, doughnuts, bacon rolls and fish and chip suppers all feature in case studies of good practice.
  • Have a mixture of strategies for engaging your parents in their child’s learning. Different strategies appeal to different parents, e.g. a loan system of bedtime story books, regular suggestions sent by text/website/newsletter, Stay and Play sessions, inviting parents into the last 10 minutes of the day when there is story and singing, free gifts of chalk and black sugar paper put in the entrance hall…

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