Family Learning, Learning for Life

An area of Boogie Mites’ work that you may not know about is our Family Learning courses across London and the South. We have been involved with this work for many years now, taking many of our programmes to parents and children through partnership work with children’s centres, pre-schools and primary schools.

So what is Family Learning, and why does Boogie Mites do it? The Learning and Work Institute defines it as referring to “any learning activity that involves both children and adult family members, where learning outcomes are intended for both, and that contributes to a culture of learning in the family.” Which is exactly what Boogie Mites is about! We have always promoted ourselves as being for the benefit of parents as well as the children, so this more formal direction complements our aims of empowering everyone to incorporate the brain-boosting benefits of music into their lives.

Our courses incorporate a short time with the parents each week to give them the theory behind what we are doing in the sessions, then a joint music-making and craft session with the children and parents, followed by time for reflection where we draw links between the theory and practical and commenting on any observations from the session. The parents are always given ideas to try at home to support their children’s learning, and we even provide a CD of all the songs from the particular programme we’re covering.

This model of Boogie Mites as Wider Family Learning works very well as a community service and can often be the first step on the journey back to employment or learning for parents. It can provide valuable support to parents, not just giving them ideas to enhance their child’s learning and development, but as a way of gaining peer support from other parents in their community. We often see learners forming lasting friendships from attending the course together, especially when their children are going to attend the same primary school, or when parents come along to a course with their new babies. We are currently running a course that is working with an NHS service for mothers with Post-Natal Depression. In times of transition, Family Learning seems to provide an invaluable community resource for families, as well as encouraging the culture of learning within a family. This can help to close the attainment gap, by empowering parents who might suffer dis-advantage for various reasons, to support their child’s learning, even if they start the course believing they can’t. By the end of it, they know they can.

Towards the end of Boogie Mites Family Learning courses, we always signpost parents to other courses or further support if needed; we are part of a wider network of learning providers and see ourselves as part of a holistic approach to learning that doesn’t stop when we get the evaluation forms back! Some of the parents who have attended our courses have gone on to volunteering, others to paid employment, and most learn new skills and ideas in supporting their child’s learning at home.

Our main three courses are 10 hours and cover the full range from 0-5 years. They are Baby Boogie Mites (0-crawling), Minis (toddling – 3 years) and School Ready (3-5 years). The Aims of the programmes address the needs of parents and children. For the adult learners, there are 4 proposed outcomes for each course, which are adapted to the age of the child

  1. Participate in shared musical activities with their child supporting personal, social and emotional development
  2. To gain an overview understanding of the EYFS (differentiated to age of the child)
  3. Observe their child’s behaviour, modelling good practice and supporting development
  4. To learn new songs and activities for practice at home during and after the course

And the proposed outcomes for the children are mapped against the three Prime Areas of Learning in the EYFS and are kept relevant to the age of the children attending:

  1. To participate in a shared activity with parent and group, developing social and emotional skills and social interaction
  2. To develop physical skills through moving with music and handling instruments
  3. To develop communication, language and listening skills through tuning into sounds, gaining confidence for self expression through music

Our Family Learning parent education courses outcomes are very positive as confirmed by the partners that we work with and the parent feedback. Evidence was evaluated by a Research study undertaken by Chichester University Early Years Department and published in 2014. They found significant evidence of parents gaining knowledge, confidence and resources and continuing home practice after the course and they also perceived that the outcomes for their children were positive in many areas of the EYFS. You can read the Executive summary via the About Us page of our website – Our Research Base.

The Local Authorities that we work with also value our service, all three of our Family Learning contracts across Hampshire, Surrey and Portsmouth have been renewed for the 2017-18 academic year, which means we can continue to inspire and empower families to create a continued and lifelong culture of learning. What a privilege.