From education to employment

Family learning and childcare: A personal experience

CfL final article

Expanding Childcare: Time for children, parents and family learning

I first heard about family learning from a leaflet from my local children’s centre, as well as staff asking if I wanted to participate – so I thought I’d give it a try. I took a Happy Parents, Happy Family Course in 2019 run by Learning Unlimited.

Childcare and time for learning

At the time that I first started family learning, my children were small and I was socially not active as I am now – so it was very refreshing to be able to meet with grown-ups, share my thoughts with them and spend some hours without my children, as the course provided a creche for the little ones.

It was a kind of lifeline to me at the time.

Through these connections, it was also good to learn that other parents are experiencing challenges of parenting in similar ways to myself, and that we all have doubts and fail from time to time.

Family learning and further courses

I’ve learned so much from family learning sessions. They have helped me understand my children and their reactions, and supported me to respond in a different way – such as not be upset. It has also given me great confidence to raise my children in a different manner which works best for them. I’ve also learnt a lot about ways to maintain a happy and balanced life at home.

Family learning has also helped me to develop my understanding of my children’s learning needs. I’ve done a Family Maths course and a Helping Children with Writing course online – both of which helped me to understand my own children’s development and prepared me to be able to help them more effectively with their learning at home. I learned maths a long time ago and in a different country, so it’s very useful to understand the terms that the schools are using these days. I also learnt methods that are more effective and simpler than the ones I remembered.

The writing course was also very important to me, as my son was behind with writing, and I was desperate to help him. I learnt fun ways to support him, and he is on the right track now.

Most recently, I took the Support Children with Disabilities and Special Educational Needs course. I found that interesting too, as it also helped me to understand my children better – for example, I do not expect them to learn the same way as they are both different learning types.

Beyond what I’ve learned about my own children, I also took a course on ‘Connecting Families Volunteer Training’. The main aim of this was to help to tackle loneliness and find out the needs in the community. I really enjoyed the training and the events we organised at the end. I think it is a good way to give some back to families in my own community and just to help people to have a little bit of fun with arts and crafts.

Gaining a teaching assistant certificate

One of the best things about family learning is that I didn’t just get pleasant memories or support from Learning Unlimited – I went on to finish the Level 2 Teaching Assistant Certificate course and I am now a trained teaching assistant.

I’m currently volunteering at my children’s primary school, which I enjoy doing so much. I go in every Wednesday and help the other teaching assistant and the teacher. I love helping the children, going out with them in groups, and helping with their learning – it’s fantastic. I’m not in my children’s classes, but I do see them on the playground and they are really happy to see me in school.

Education is a very big thing and people can underestimate it. But if you can learn something for free, then it’s like this jackpot, as you get something that is so valuable from it.

I say to other parents and carers who haven’t tried family learning, just do it. Go and see how you find it, because it’s great fun – you’ll meet nice people and have a genuinely nice experience. There is nothing to lose. I truly have nothing bad to say about this experience.

Thanks to Learning Unlimited, I earned a profession and a passion as well.

Recommendation 1

The Government should support learning providers to offer childcare which helps parents have the dedicated time to take up family learning and further courses.

Recommendation 2

Family learning should be available to everyone in all areas and local and central government agencies should act as referral points so that people accessing services are aware of the opportunities.

Recommendation 3

A national family learning campaign by the Government should be implemented to help raise awareness of the benefits of family learning and help parents find out more and take part.

By Henriett Toth

Campaign for Learning has released a new series of articles, Expanding Childcare: Time for children, parents and family learning.

See below when each article will be published on FE News:

Part One: Childcare the welfare state – 20th July

1. Will Snell, Chief Executive, The Fairness Foundation

Childcare and a new social contract

2. Anneka Dawson, Head of Pre-16 Education, Ceri Williams, Senior Research Fellow, and Alexandra Nancarrow, Research Fellow, Institute for Employment Studies

The childcare sector: Providers and the workforce in England

Part Two: Childcare and time for work – 21st July

3. Paul Bivand, Independent Policy Analyst

Women, employment and childcare

4. James Cockett, Labour Market Economist and Claire McCartney, Policy Adviser, Resourcing and Inclusion, CIPD

The planned childcare entitlements and progression into work

5. Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive, Working Families

Combining flexible working and childcare to solve the childcare crisis

Part Three: Childcare and time for child development – 24th July

6. Janeen Hayat, Director of Collective Action, Fair Education Alliance

Improving childcare quality to support educational outcomes

7. Megan Jarvie, Head of Coram Family and Childcare

Making a step change to child development through childcare

8. Professor Elizabeth Rapa and Professor Louise Dalton, University of Oxford

Childcare, children’s development and education outcomes

Part Four: Childcare and time for parental engagement – 25th July

9. Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility, University of Exeter

The childcare revolution: A new opportunity for parental partnerships in child learning

10. Bea Stevenson, Head of Education, Family Links the Centre for Emotional Health

Childcare and parental engagement in child learning

Part Five: Childcare and time for adult skills – 26th July

11. Simon Ashworth, Policy Director, AELP

The new childcare entitlements and skills bootcamps

12. Sharon Cousins, Vice Principal, Newham College and National Association for Managers of Student Services Executive

The new childcare entitlements and access to further education

13. Susan Pember, Policy Director, HOLEX

A thriving society means linking the new childcare entitlements to adult learning

Part Six: Childcare and time for family learning –

27th July

14. Sam Freedman, Senior Fellow, Institute for Government

The childcare revolution and family learning

15. Susan Doherty, Development Officer – Family Learning, Education Scotland

Family learning and childcare: Lessons from Scotland

28th July

16. Susannah Chambers, Independent Consultant

Bringing childcare and family learning together

17. Henriett Toth, Parent

Family learning and childcare: A personal experience

Related Articles