Case Studies

Barnardos
We believe that parents, carers and the home environment are the most important influence in a child's early years. Our setting is committed to working with parents to ensure that they play a full and positive role in their child's learning and education. We believed that the Time Together at Home scheme would provide an innovative approach to working with parents and carers through increasing their understanding and involvement in their child's learning and development. A number of parents also asked for ideas to enhance their child's learning at home, and one dad in particular asked for support to help his child "be the best he can be". 

How we got started:

The pre-school leader met with the dad and discussed with him what he and his son enjoy doing together. The dad was encouraged to hear that much of what he was doing everyday was already helping his son to learn. The dad chose some cards with activities that he felt he would be confident in trying at home with his son. 

As part of our planning we inform parents and carers on the parents and carers noticeboard what their child will be doing in pre-school each week and suggest activities the adults might do at home with their child to support their learning. We will display a number of the Time Together at Home cards on the board, as a way of encouraging parents and carers to ask for more information. 

What happened?

Parents and carers appear to be positive and "on board" with this scheme. They are slowly losing their inhibitions about being the most important teacher in their child's early years and having fun together at home. They enjoy talking to staff about what they have been doing at home with their child. They are more confident to ask for support to help their child learn every day. We believe the parents are proud to be taking such an active role in their child's learning and development.

What we have learned:

We have learnt that a number of our parents and carers do not have positive memories of their own education, and did not understand that they could play a full and positive role in their child's learning and development. We also realised that we know our parents and carers well, and that an individual, personal approach works best for them, as they are often apprehensive about asking for help. 

Challenges and Dilemmas:

A number of our parents and carers in the setting have difficulties with literacy; it was important that they were included in the Time Together at Home programme and given an appropriate level of support to read and understand all relevant information, and cards. 

Possibilities and Opportunities:

The pre-school leader will share the information about Time Together at Home with the outreach childcare practitioners within Allerdale Children's Centre so that Time Together at Home can be implemented from a very early age, through a wide variety of settings to give children the best possible start with their early years education. 

Outcomes: 

  • Parents and carers became more aware of the benefits of engaging in Time Together at Home with their child, and had an increased understanding of their child's learning and development.  

  • Parents and carers were keen to share with staff accounts of how activities they had done with their child had gone, and the impact they had on their child. Therefore building positive relationships between the setting and home. 

  • Children enjoyed talking about what they had been doing at home with their parents. 

  • Practitioners developed skills which enabled them to cascade the Time Together at Home approach throughout the pre-school.

Little Monkey's Day Nursery and Pre-School

As part of our 2015 Focus improvement plan we were looking for strategies to engage our families in home learning, ensuring to encourage this to happen through play and day to day environments rather than the stereo typical judgment of learning involving sitting at a table and working! 

We found when we spoke with our families they were keen to support their children's development and learning at home but again did not realise that the simple activities were so vital in their child's learning. 

How we got started:

We began by having a staff meeting to discuss how we could best use the pilot copy of the Time Together at Home cards. We decided we could use them in our current planning system as we have a home learning form where we give parents ideas of activities to enhance the learning from nursery. We decided these cards would support this process and give the families more detail as to what they could do. 

What happened?

Once we began rolling the cards out we got lots of positive feedback and families were amazed that such simple activities were actually teaching their children. We found the families were confessing that the previous system where we had handwritten a quick idea was either not understood or they didn't even look. The children have enjoyed telling us at nursery that they had been doing these games at home. 

What we have learned:

We have learnt that finding the right approach to home learning with our families is vital for their engagement and that parents want to help their children progress but their understanding of learning is very formal. Once we explained what they get from these very simple games the parents were really pleased. 

Challenges and Dilemmas:

Finding a system as to where and how to keep the cards was a challenge as we tried keeping them electronically and just printing as and when they were needed but the staff found this time consuming so we decided to keep a set in each room in a file where the staff could flick through and photocopy the one they wanted. It was time consuming setting up and discussing with the families but definitely worth the time. 

Possibilities and Opportunities:

The possibilities and opportunities for Time Together at Home cards is endless.  We plan to use them in other ways too, such as children with additional needs could have them linked to each target on their IEP or Education, Health and Care Plan targets. We also plan to use them in our parent workshops. 

Outcomes:

Parents became much more engaged in the home learning with their children, the children were excited to share their experiences at nursery and the practitioners have a starting point to support families.