Chapter 6: Working with families to support young children’s learning

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Chapter authors

  • Cathy Nutbrown
  • Becky Cook

Chapter overview

Early childhood education settings are increasingly, developing work with parents to help them support their young children’s learning at home. With examples from a Maintained Nursery School and a Trust Pre-School in Yorkshire, this chapter considers how parents can help their children’s early learning and development and how ECE settings can support them. We summarise some key research findings, consider the importance of family learning, demonstrate current practice and anticipate the future.

Chapter objectives

    • To provide an overview of research on families’ roles in young children’s learning.
    • To consider national and local policies to support family learning
    • To show how settings can work with parents to help them to support their young children’s learning.

    Further reading

    Dyson, A., et al (2010). Narrowing the Gap in Educational Achievement and Improving Emotional Resilience for Children and Young People with Additional Needs. Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People’s Services (C4EO): London.

    Hannon, P. Nutbrown, C. and  Morgan, A. (2019). Effects of extending disadvantaged families’ teaching of emergent literacy, Research Papers in Education.

    Marsh, J., Hannon, P. and Lewis, M., and Ritchie, L. (2017). Young Children’s Initiation into Family Literacy Practices in the Digital Age. Journal of Early Childhood Research 15 (1): 47-60. 

    NEU, Child Poverty Action Group and Children North East (2021) Turning the Page on Poverty: A practical guide for education staff to help tackle poverty and the cost of the school day

    Nutbrown, C., Clough, P., Stammers, L., Emblin, N. and  Aston Smith, S. (2017). Family literacy in prisons: fathers’ engagement with their young children, Research Papers in Education. 

    Nutbrown, C., Clough, P., Davies, K., Hannon, P. (2022). Home Learning Environments for young children. London: Sage.

    Supplementary material

    The website of the Raising Early Achievement in Literacy project, which tells the story of The Sheffield REAL project and contains many ideas and materials for eorking with parents to promote early literacy development. These include films, session plans, details of the ORIM Network and material son many aspects of Home Learning.

    A Manifesto for Home Learning. which can be downloaded in poster format.  

    #50things to do before you’re five gives ideas for families to try things together which are free or low cost, and can be used by parents to help enhance their young children’s learning and well-being.  Suggested activities are tailored to local areas.

    Parent Zone Scotland – Home learning environment 

    The home learning environment – animation for parents highlighting the importance of supporting early language development long before children begin school, and the things parents do at home and in the community with their children.

    Waterton Preschool – A website from one setting offering home learning suggestions for parents.

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