About Family Learning

What is Family Learning?

Families are not only our first and most important teachers, they also teach us the most important things in life. The values, attitudes and culture that we learn from our families can stay with us throughout our lives. We acquire knowledge from school, but that knowledge is given a context by the family. For example, children learn to read at school but it is often the family that nurtures a love of reading. History can seem remote in textbooks but a grandparent's stories of World War II can bring it to life.

Without family support, a child's formal education is an uphill struggle. There is evidence that family learning can overcome difficulties associated with a disadvantaged background for both parents and children. Family learning schemes are often a second chance for parents, and grandparents, to return to learning, creating a host of fresh opportunities to pursue previously thwarted ambitions.

Family learning covers all forms of informal and formal learning that involve more than one generation. Family members can include friends as well as family, reflecting the range of support relationships that individuals rely on in the twenty-first century. It includes learning about roles, relationships and responsibilities in relation to stages of family life; parenting education; and learning how to understand, take responsibility and make decisions in relation to wider society, in which the family is a foundation for citizenship.

Family Learning can also help tackle issues facing society such as social exclusion, and poor health. Family Learning can have wide cost benefits: impact on health, family relations, lifelong learning and active citizenship²
(²Family Learning: Agenda for action: Campaign for Learning, ContinYou, NIACE: 2004)


Why is Family Learning important?

A report written by Charles Desforges (for DfES, 2003) showed that learning at home was the biggest influence on achievement of children aged 3 to 7. Home learning is reading, library visits, playing with letters, numbers and shapes, painting and drawing, learning through play, letters of the alphabet, nursery rhymes and singing.

Perhaps you think you can't help your children with their homework and are scared of 'getting it wrong' because your own English and maths skills 'aren't up to scratch'; however encouraging and supporting your children at home and having fun with them can benefit them greatly in their learning.





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