Learning and Development

Early years literacy – Sharing ideas with parents

  • Early years literacy – Sharing ideas with parents

Gill Budgell shares some practical ways to support home learning…

In the revised EYFS Statutory Framework 21, there is a strengthened emphasis on children, families and community.

The help that parents give their children at home can significantly impact their learning, and effective parental collaboration in a child’s education sets the child up to excel in their early years and beyond. 

Families are complex structures, however, and we know children can experience wildly different levels of support at home. It is essential, then, that we can understand the children in our care, and work with their families’ dynamics. 

Encouraging parents to talk, chat, play and read more with their children is crucial, even though it is not always easy.

Sharing key information as well as guidance in using books and activities can help to support these symbiotic relationships. 

Sharing guidance with parents on using books

Most parents will be unaware of the changes to the EYFS Statutory Framework, and to relate all the changes and early learning goals required may be overwhelming. 

It might be best to think about a specific area of learning, such as Literacy, decide how parents can easily support this area at home, and give them direct guidance in the form of practical tips or easy to integrate games.

Encourage parents or carers to think about the whole process of sharing a book when time allows. Outline these three stages: before, during and after the reading, and emphasise the importance of the whole process.

Before you start reading

Families should choose the book together, making sure it’s one the child wants to engage with.

They may start by looking at the front cover, the back cover or even by flicking through the book. This may happen as they select the book together or once they’ve chosen it.

Parents may ask: “why did you choose this book?” or “what do you think this book will be about?” to engage the child before reading. 

During reading

For a storybook, parents may want to read aloud to their child, stopping now and then to talk about the characters, what is happening and what might happen next.

Suggest talking about the pictures and asking questions to prompt conversation. Parents might relate the story to their child’s experiences or opinions where possible.

For non-fiction families may also want to read aloud, but may choose to stop on some pages and not others – they may graze through the book, stopping to share details according to their child’s interests.

They may be pointing to different pictures on the page, or in some cases, touching or moving parts or flaps in the book. Reading can be active!

After reading the book

There will be times when practicalities mean that children finish the book and it’s too late, or everyone is too tired or fidgety to do anymore. Remind parents that it’s ok when that happens, that’s life!

But when possible, talking about a book to revisit the story or the information, or their child’s preferences or opinions, can be hugely valuable. Parents may even ask their child to show them the pages they liked best and to talk about why.

It is worth noting that, in the EYFS Statutory Framework 21, there is no longer an ELG for technology, as it is assumed (rightly or wrongly) that technology, including digital reading experiences, is already well integrated into our lives.

There is a useful UK Government-supported website Hungry Little Minds  which suggests age-appropriate programmes and activities particularly for parents and children to try at home. 

Gill Budgell is an education consultant, publisher, trainer and author in English, language and literacy, with a special interest in early years and language development.

Recently, Gill has worked with DK to create a complete Early Years Collection, featuring over 40 DK books, covering all key areas of learning at age 3-5 to help create an outstanding learning environment in your early years setting. The Early Years Collection also includes EYFS tips and analysis.