We recently heard from Lydia Fitzpatrick, Nursery Manager at Kids Planet Day Nurseries about something new she'd introduced in her setting. Lydia's aim was to bring parents closer into the work of the setting. She also wanted to involve children's home experiences more directly in her nursery's planning cycle. Her solution was to create a beautiful "Home Learning Station" at the entrance to the setting.
Lydia and her team set about resourcing five boxes, each one focussing on a specific area of child development. Some, such as "mark making" were quite simple and designed just to get parents engaged with their children's learning. Others, such as "writing", were chosen as areas of learning where it can be harder for practitioners to tailor activities for individual children.
The sets of resources were each accompanied by some written context for parents. In some cases this was achieved by including a book to explain the relevance of the particular area of learning. In others, practitioners in Lydia's team wrote up a booklet of activity ideas. By storing each of the sets in beautiful wicker boxes, Lydia's "Home Learning Station" looks particularly appealing when parents arrive at nursery.
"I'm sure we've all been asked about the educational benefits of play dough or 'scribbling' with doubtful looks from parents. I think the Home Learning Station educates the parents on the importance of activities they may have previously found insignificant." - Lydia
Parents are encouraged to take a box away with them, to use with their child at home. Parents are asked for feedback on how they got on. when the bring a box back to nursery. This feedback helps the child's key person to measure the impact of the home learning experience for the child. The feedback is also used to extend the child's learning further within the setting. Clearly, the Home Learning Station is a powerful tool for involving parents firmly within the nursery's planning cycle.