Involving parents in their children’s learning

Father swinging daughter around

Working in partnership with parents and/or carers is central to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Consulting them about children’s early experiences helps practitioners plan for effective learning at the setting, and helps them support parents in continuing their children's learning development at home.

All contributions from parents should be encouraged and welcomed. Helping out during sessions, sharing interests or information about their culture, and taking part in discussions about the childcare service all provide the opportunity for parents to learn about children’s learning, in the setting and at home.

Some parents are less well represented than others in early years settings. These include fathers, parents who live apart from their children, and working parents. This may mean that different strategies are needed for involving them and that consultation is necessary to find out what works best. Information should be provided in ways that are accessible to parents with basic skills, specific needs or those who have English as an additional language.

With case studies throughout, Engaging Mothers and Fathers, explores principles that underpin effective working with parents and offers practical guidance for engaging parents and/or carers in their children's early learning.

What is family learning and what are the benefits?

Family learning is designed to give parents and other family members the skills and confidence they need to support their children’s learning at home through play and everyday activities. This can also help parents to make choices about their own learning.

Fathers, like mothers, play a very important role in young children’s lives. Children do better educationally, psychologically and socially when fathers are actively involved. A positive male influence isn’t just limited to biological father, but includes father figures such as foster fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles and older male siblings. Where’s Dad?, discusses why engagement with fathers is important, the barriers that settings may face and how to ensure that your service is father-friendly. It also includes a check list, audit form and action plan to support you to engage with male family members.

Family learning normally takes the form of activities or short workshops where family members learn together and where there are planned learning outcomes for both children and adults.

The benefits of family learning are wide-ranging and include:

  • improved educational outcomes for children
  • effective ways of engaging parents in their children’s learning
  • improved communication between parents and practitioners
  • a first step back into learning for parents
  • improved relationships between parents and children

For more information on family learning courses contact our Training Centre on 01732 363 070 or


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