Learning Begins in the Home: Ways to Boost Your Child’s Development and School Success

Last week, I shared how parenting education through the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program can help children’s development from early childhood and beyond. The ECFE program provides parents with the right tools to feel more knowledgeable, confident and supported in the many roles they play as parents. As a program operated through local school districts, ECFE helps parents develop a special role in children’s learning and school success. Unique from that of teachers and other learning professionals, parents provide children with an early, continuous and lasting environment that supports their learning at home, school and in the world. Part of parenting education involves helping parents understand the basics of child development so they will have more realistic expectations of their child’s growth, behavior and learning and can help their children achieve them. And by creating good partnerships with teachers and providing an environment at home that supports learning, parents can promote school readiness and complement what happens in the classroom.

Tips for Creating a Productive Learning Environment at Home

As a child’s first teacher, parents have the unique opportunity to shape their child’s development and learning to help them become successful students in school. There are many resources to help parents in these tasks, including ECFE and websites like Minnesota Parents Know. Here are a few of the key ways parents can facilitate learning and school success:

  1. Foster positive emotional connections by nurturing your child and forging strong relational bonds. Listen carefully, respond with sensitivity and respect your child as a unique individual. Speak positively and constructively, and be there for them as they face challenges and stresses. A solid emotional relationship with a caregiver gives children the trust to explore and learn from their environments.
  2. Ensure your child is getting proper nutrition, is staying active and in good health. This includes being up to date on immunizations, monitoring their media habits and being aware of the modeling about good health set by others. By promoting healthy habits, your child will be ready to learn in mind and body.
  3. Promote learning in everyday activities and make it fun. Encourage your child to join you in reading. Boost their curiosity by asking questions. Encourage them to solve problems before rushing in to help.
  4. Create an environment that helps prepare them for learning and school settings. This might include putting time limits on activities, exposing your child to others in ways that help them learn turn taking and sharing, and encouraging opportunities for separation from you, the parent. At home and in the community, your child can be exposed to and given opportunities to interact with materials for reading, writing, creativity and problem solving.
  5. Start and maintain a positive, collaborative relationship with teachers and others who promote children’s school success. Parents don’t need to wait until a child starts kindergarten or first grade. Early home-school relationships and child-centered communication start with childcare providers and other early educators. And those relationships extend beyond the classroom. Having good communication with coaches and activity leaders on behalf of your child can help adults reinforce important lessons that build a child’s brain, body and character.

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Susan Walker

About the Author

Susan Walker, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor
  • Family Social Science
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • University of Minnesota

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