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Early Learning at Home

Dr. Michelle Hill

Creating spaces for your child to explore and extend their learning at home

By thinking intentionally about the spaces in your home, you can create opportunities for your child to extend their own learning and you can join in or sit back (almost) and watch it happen!

You may have seen a previous article: Why does the learning environment matter for young children? in which we explain how we create environments at school that are an invitation to learning. One element we focus on is the physical space. At home, each different room offers its own potential for learning. 

Early Mathematics and Science in the Kitchen

The kitchen is a space that offers enormous potential for learning. We know that young children learn by watching, listening and trying things for themselves, so be sure to involve your child in preparing and cooking meals. Weighing scales can be an endless source of fascination for young children - whether they are a digital scale or a balance scale, children love to weigh different objects and as they see the digits change or the scale move they begin to try to make sense of what they see. Using a timer and watching the digits count down also provide opportunities for developing an interest in numbers.

Using Kitchen Tools

Giving your child a job to do gives them a sense of responsibility and they are far more likely to eat what has been prepared when they have been part of the process. At school the children love to grate anything! The grater is an amazing tool and children are fascinated to see how food changes as they use it. It is also hard work to use and great for the development of the fine motor skills essential for activities such as drawing and writing. Lemon juicers, garlic presses, sieves and potato mashers are equally good!

Water Play in the Bath

Water play builds the foundations for many scientific and mathematical concepts and of course the bathroom is a great place to explore the properties of water. In the bath, be sure to provide different sizes and shapes of containers for pouring water and filling them up. A sponge can be a source of fascination as children use it to soak up water and squeeze it out again and again. This repetition that children love so much also helps to develop their concentration span over time. Use early mathematical language as you play together: full, empty, half-full, more and less.

Supporting Early Literacy

We know that success with Early Literacy and a love of reading is enhanced through engaging with books at an early age. Having a variety of books readily available for your child and somewhere comfortable to read them is a great place to start. Reading at home should be enjoyable, so provide opportunities for your child to choose their own books or stories. Don’t worry if they can’t read the words - they are learning to use picture cues and parts of the text to make their own meaning. Magazines are great for this.  A low bookcase or storage baskets and a comfortable chair or cosy rug are essential items in any sitting room and remember to model reading for your child - when they see you engrossed in a book or magazine, they will want to copy and try it out for themselves! 

Creative Spaces

Children love to get creative and a space for your child to draw, cut and glue as they explore colour, texture and mark-making is essential. Art supplies do not need to be expensive for children to make their marks - place crayons, markers and coloured pencils available within easy reach. Children get the most out of open-ended materials, so decorating empty boxes, cutting up magazines, cutting and folding paper are all great ways to enjoy your child’s creative development. Make sure they can access all the things they need themselves as this helps to develop their independence and their self-confidence. Don’t forget to appreciate their work by finding a space to display it, taking a photo and showing it back to them and talking to them about how they made their finished piece. Providing children with these opportunities helps them to focus and persevere and to see that their work is valued.

By maximising the potential of the spaces at home for your child’s learning, you can help your child develop the self-management skills which are so important in school - persevering with a task, being self-motivated to try something out and being resilient when things don’t go as expected. And after some playful learning at home, don’t forget to involve your child in the tidying up!

  • Creative Space
  • Early Years
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics

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