As young ones begin to explore and understand the world around them, it is also important to maintain a sense of learning indoors in a controlled home environment. We've compiled a how-to guide that shows the benefits and best practices to encourage our little learners to begin their education at home!
Purpose of a home learning environment
Supporting a child's early learning is extremely important and doesn't necessarily always include going outside or on new adventures, providing new toys to play with or being imaginative and creating fantasy play settings.
Instead what we mean when we discuss a home learning environment, specifically for early years, is a place where activities can take place that involve a parent-child relationship. These activities should be educational or stimulate development skills.
Young children feel a sense of security when their parents are around, and practising learning activities together helps a child feel warmth and encourages them to interact in learning experiences at home or in a childcare setting.
Benefits of regular home learning
It is usually second nature to early years to explore and learn. However what a child gains from a home learning environment is different to what benefits they get from other types of play such as: outdoor, small world and sensory.
The benefits of introducing a safe and controlled environment for your child to learn and try educational activities, are what prepare them for their future educational development. Here's some key outcomes of encouraging early education at home:
Develop literacy and numeracy skills
Although it's obvious, the most important part of creating a home learning environment is to develop both literacy and numeracy skills from a young age. Doing this will help your child to learn key life skills and ways of communicating information.
Language and speech is a vital stepping stone in a young child's development. The ability to communicate thoughts, questions and feelings is essential in any early years environment. This is continuously encouraged with an effective home learning environment.
Independence and confidence
Practising educational activities at home in a safe environment will increase confidence and independence when they reach a school setting. Young children will make connections between these two settings of learning which will help them settle in, ask questions and have a positive attitude to learning.
Readiness for school
Not only does practising educational activities at home increase the development of lots of skills and attributes, but all in all it prepares a child for the transition into a school education. Employing education at home really does aid in the vital weeks of starting school. A child will have more social and emotional skills, creativity skills and cognitive skills.
Creating a safe environment
Essentials to creating a secure environment where a young child feels safe and encouraged:
- Questions! Encourage children to ask any and all questions and ask them open-ended questions too, where there's an endless possibilities of answers they can give.
- Your environment doesn't have to mimic a strict school setting, instead use background music, bright colours and pictures.
- Be on the same level as your little ones, you don't need to symbolise a teacher figure, you want to enable them to learn from themselves not teach them right from wrong. Letting them make sense of information for themselves.
Top tips to enabling home learning
- Encourage core numeracy and literacy. Getting the basics in from a young age is the best way to prepare young children for the rest of their educational lives.
- Resources and more resources! There's an extensive range of home learning packs online to help with basic numeracy and literacy. These activities can be paired with YouTube channels and videos, arts and crafts, books and puppet play, songs, music and rhymes. Here's some activity ideas to help get you started.
- Everyday activities can become an opportunity for learning. If you're baking for example, ask for help and explain what you're doing, children can gain hands on experience of measurements and instructions.
- Creating a routine is also vital, a child will begin to switch on when they know it's time to learn. Whether it’s for an hour each day or an afternoon each week, keep a regular schedule and avoid activities during these times that children might associate with playing rather than learning. Switch off your TV and put the toys away!
Loose parts are a great resource to use in numeracy and literacy activities. They encourage an alternative style of learning that can get little ones to be hands on and you can find them all over your home! To find out more about loose parts and how they can help your child learn, read issue 10 of our Little Learners Magazine.