Guidance for Settings


Research suggests that the quality of the home learning environment has the biggest impact on children's wellbeing and achievement, more impact than parental education, family income or school environment (The effective Provision of Pre-school Education Project - EPPE Sylva et al. 2004.  Provider Influence on The Early Home Learning Environment - June 2011).
This means the risks to a child's achievement, can be overcome by a good home learning environment.
Studies also suggest that settings can make the help that they offer to parents more effective without a big input of resources (Desforges and Aboucher, 2003).


1.Parents love and want the best for their children
2.They have the closest relationship with the child.
3.The home has a wider variety of people to provide role models, particularly males such as dads, uncles and granddads.
4.Children get more individual attention.
5.Parents know the child best so understand their needs.
6.The child has time to explore in an environment they know well.
7.The home has lots of resources for open-ended play.
8.The child feels secure and so may take more risks in their learning.
9.The home is important to the child and is a real environment, so the learning is relevant to the individual child.
10.Home can contain more challenges.

Research has shown that if children get the right learning experiences at home they are likely to do better at school.


There are many reasons why your child should enjoy learning at home because;  

You know your child better than anyone so understand their needs and how to help them.
Your child will love the individual attention from you.
Your child has time to explore in a place they feel safe and they know well.
Your child can develop their imagination using everyday objects.
Your child feels secure at home and so may take more risks in their learning and so learn more.
Your home is important to the child and is a real environment, so the learning is relevant to your child.
Your home may have a wide variety of people to learn from, particularly males such as dads, uncles and granddads.

Research has shown that the children who have the following experiences in the home are more likely to do well at school if;  

They develop loving, warm and responsive relationships.
They are listened and responded to.
They are talked and sung to, even before they are born.
They play with members of their family and lead the play.
Their family reads to them every day.
Their family sing songs and rhymes to them.
Their family takes them on trips out, maybe to the shops or park.
They visit the local library.
They draw and paint at home.
They play with friends.
They play with letters and numbers.

The Leadership of the setting acknowledges the importance of helping parents with learning at home and has a culture that finds practical solutions to any difficulties. This will mean all staff being aware of the importance of working with parents and being given the practical support needed. This may include training, allocating time to talk to parents, a room to talk to parents, time to plan information sessions.


All staff are confident to talk to parents about their child's learning and what the parents could do at home for their child. This means staff must have a good knowledge of child development and next steps for the individual child.


Face to face communication is the main method of communicating with parents. A two minute conversation with a parent each day is the most effective way to pass on messages. There is a place for more formal information sessions but not all families will access this.


Parents are invited into the setting. There are many ways that parents can take part in the life of the settings.


Effective use of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The messages contained in the EYFS are really important to communicate to parents. The EYFS describes how young children learn best through having fun in their play. It helps parents to be realistic about their children's achievements.

Parents want to support their children's learning but are not always able to do this.


Learning at home can be made more effective if keyworkers know that one of the best ways they can help their children is by getting to know the families and working with them to find ways to best help their child. As we know all children are different so are all families and family situations change. An approach that has not worked in the past may work now or something that has worked may need to be adapted to continue to work.


Here are some of the issues that affect parents and possible solutions:


Lack of time - ask the parents how they would most like to have contact with you. You could have short conversations at the beginning and end of the day or ask parents to come back and talk, perhaps in the evenings when they have more time.


Lack of trust - some parents feel they are being judged and their efforts are not good enough. The key to building trust is the keyworker respecting the parents and starting with their interests and needs.


Lack of confidence - as parents work with you and trust you their confidence in helping their children should grow. This will improve as the keyworker builds close relationships with their families.


Lack of knowledge - as Early Years professionals it is easy to forget parents do not have the same knowledge as you about child development.  Parents like to find out things that are relevant to their child. There are lots of ways to get the information about the EYFS across to parents.


Lack of understanding - parents sometimes believe it is best to leave it to the settings to teach their child without realising the impact they can have.  This is about sharing with parents ways they can help their child in their learning.
Lack of literacy of numeracy skills - parents will have differing levels of literacy and numeracy skills.  If you give all parents the opportunity to let you know how they would like you to communicate with them they may let you know this.  As you get to know the parent you will be able to give appropriate support.
Other family pressures - all families have pressures on them.  It is up to the parent if they share these with the setting and they may want to share different things at different times.  It is important not to judge families and make assumptions when you may now know their situation.

Your setting will need to make decisions about how to use the cards and this will be different for each setting. This guidance includes case studies of how the cards have been used in different ways.

The things you will need to decide before you begin to use the cards are:

What do we do now for home learning?
How can we include Time Together at Home in our current planning and assessment systems?
What do we know now about our families?
What do we do to build good relationships with our families?  This will include questions about when and how you talk to different parents.
How would different families benefit from using Time Together at Home?
What could we do if the families do not engage?
How will we know our home learning work is making a difference?


Find out from your parents the sort of things they do at home with their child.  Agree as a setting the best way to do this.  The type of support you give will depend on this.
Choose a card that will support the child's needs and interests and this will inform the type of support that you give.  This could be linked to the child's next steps, for example, to support speech and language development.
Talk to the parent about using the card at home with their child.  This will probably work best if the child's keyworker chats to the parent informally at the beginning or end of a session.  The keyworker could talk about what the child has been doing in the setting and suggest the child may like to carry on with some activities with the parent at home.
Encourage parents to revisit the activities over time and not rush through the cards as this will embed their child's learning.
Talk to the parent about how the activity went and build on this.  You may feel the activity could be repeated in a different way or another card introduced that could move the child forward.  This is where the blank cards could be useful.
Evaluate the impact on learning.

You already have lots of ways of making sure that children are making  progress. You do not need to add to these.

If you have a child at risk of delay, using the Time Together at Home  the cards  could  help narrow the gap.

For the children's progress this could be:
Learning Journeys
  (containing observations, photographs and children's work), progress  checks, individual and whole group tracking.

Evidence from parents to support impact could include:

Verbal feedback while discussing the activities, sharing of photographs  from home, home/setting books, other written feedback as long as they  are not too time consuming for parents, online development files.