Transcript of How to support learning  within the family and across learning areas

How to support learning within the family and across learning areas (minutes seconds)

Jacqui WardWelcome to the learning every day in every way through play podcast series. We're talking today about how to support learning within the family and across all learning areas. My name is Jacqui Ward and I am the early learning coordinator with the department of education. And I'm here talking with my colleague Therese.

Therese Winyard – Hi Jacqui. Yes, I'm Therese Winyard. I'm the transition advisor in early learning and it's lovely to be here to talk about this important topic.

Jacqui Ward – Yeah, definitely. I think, you know, it's, it's really tricky when you've got, you know, lots of different children or you're trying to concentrate on trying to support children's learning in a variety of different ways to think about how do I bring it all together. So, this episode is really focused in on that. That it's about family supporting their children's learning from home. And, and sometimes, as I said, engaging those multiple children. It's helpful for us to see how different learning areas can get combined. So the one experience can be teaching a whole range of different things and how different learning across different age groups can be supported at the same time through everyday home activities. And also, we're going to touch a little bit about how older children and younger children can support each other in their learning as well. So, it doesn't always have to be led by the adults.

Therese Winyard – Yeah, that's so true. Jacqui. When we're talking about families here, we're talking about the whole family, aren't we- about older siblings, about grandparents, about aunties and uncles. But in this one particularly, I think we are looking at the way siblings and older siblings can be involved and learning through that themselves as well as helping the younger ones to learn. But all families are different and sometimes multiple siblings, all learning at different ages and stages families can see that as how am I ever going to manage to do all this learning with these children? Some families might even have English as another language, Jacqui, or they may have children learning with a difficulty learning or with a disability. So, there's lots and lots of different challenges can be thrown into the mix of lots of families out there. So, this podcast looks at how families can really support the learning across all those ages, all those abilities, all those stages.

Therese Winyard – And many home activities that really support sophisticated concepts and learning from early childhood right through to a more formal school curriculum. So all at the same time, as you said, Jacqui. So everyday learning really bundles up, all that learning from all different areas into one real learning experience and the sophisticated learning that comes from that can be quite amazing sometimes. I think it's a bit like that John Lennon song Jacqui where he says life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. Sometimes I think it's a bit like learning is what happens in families while you're busy doing your daily things.

Jacqui Ward – Definitely. I definitely think I've referred to it in some of the other episodes as incidental learning. It's happening while, you know, things are going on and if you're not necessarily aware of it, you don't necessarily make the few tweaks and say the few supportive things or you know, guide children or provide the right experiences if you didn't know that learning was happening. So that's kind of the point of this whole series, isn't it? The idea of making learning visible. So, you know, it's something that's happening, and you know, that it's chugging away while all of the chores are getting done.

Therese Winyard – Yeah. Appreciating that learning while it's happening and understanding how adults' reactions or older children's reactions really support that learning further and encourage it and, you know, make the learning even more worthwhile. That awareness is really so important, I think.

Jacqui Ward – Yeah. And I think it really comes back to some of the things that we talked about in our very first episode about making it fun and making it engaging. You know, children like to see and do things that they see other family members doing. You know, the idea that they want to play with the real keys rather than the plastic toy keys or they want to, when they're younger, they want to help with cooking and chores and things because they're interested in those every day kind of experiences because those are the experiences that help them to learn the skills that they need to be, you know, successful and functioning in their life as they, as they progress. So, it's a real motivating factor I guess for children to be involved in that. And quite often this is where we see a little bit of that competition with siblings too, isn't it, that the younger child wants to do the same thing as the older child or the older child wants to do something that the younger child is doing because that's where we can see it's quite obvious that the siblings are learning from each other. So, it's important to make that consideration, I guess. And I did want to say a little something too there and I am not sure. I think you might be going to say a little bit further on, so I apologize. But just even the idea that you mentioned about, you know, if families speak another language, so it's a really good opportunity I think for children to learn some of these concepts and learn this language at home if they don't already speak it. Maybe they're good at listening to their home language but not necessarily speaking what a great opportunity to use this learning from home platform for children to learn their language but also learn the things that we're talking about here as in measurement and directions and things in their home language as well.

Therese Winyard – Definitely Jacqui, I think families are becoming so, so much more aware of the value of talking to children in their home language if they have another language and what a wonderful gift to give to your children that they can actually function in that language as well as English. So, you know, it's appreciating the value of using your home language when you're talking with your children, when in their everyday activity. So, it's a really important thing. And a really wonderful thing to be able to do if you have that ability.

Jacqui Ward – Yeah, that's right. And even, you know, there's always a lot of concern I think for families that, have Englishes, you know, as their second language to think, Oh no, I'm really keen for my children to learn English, which of course that is important. And they will do that when, you know, when they attend their preschool or their school, but they can actually at that younger age, manage learning both languages so easily at that time. So, it's a great opportunity to do that. And even if you don't have, if you’re growing up in a family where you don't have a second language, it's still a really good time to, learn another language because of the way the brain works.

Therese Winyard – Absolutely. Jacqui, it's such an incredible age of learning in that early stages and especially for language, it's just amazing the way the children learn it and their families are able to give that gift to their children as well. What a wonderful opportunity as you say.

Jacqui Ward – Yeah, and I think we did get a little side-tracked there, but I did want to sort of reinforce that idea. Bring it back to the podcast, I think it was in the last episode where we talked about this whole sort of series is underpinned by our image of the child. So, we think about children as being capable and competent. So if we add that together with learning through routines and we support children to do things for themselves and to get involved in cooking or you know, sorting out the washing or whatever it might be, chores that we might traditionally think are, you know, not something that young children might be able to do, then we're actually supporting them to know themselves as capable and confident as well as, you know, all those learning and of course being then well equipped, if you learn how to cook when you're a young person that stays with you for your whole life, you now know how to cook meals for yourself as an adult.

Therese Winyard – Cooking is just such a fantastic example, Jacqui. It's sort of a can be a planned activity or it's something that really happens in most houses every day. It's all about maths and science and language and reading. And at the end of it you get something to eat as well. And the family's being fed. I think engaging children in cooking really allows you to involve all the children from all the different ages at their different levels. But there's also strong cultural connections and, and getting used to a traditional food, that the family usually makes. And there's links to understanding good nutrition as well and eating well, really, really important things for later in life as well as really important learning now and makes, you know, concepts in maths and language and science really real. For example, in maths you having to weigh all the ingredients and measure them, looking at the capacity and the numbers, the fractions, you know, all of that sort of thing.

Therese Winyard – And what about science? All the science in cooking. So, when we're cooking, we're getting perhaps melting some butter and we're changing states from solid to liquid or boiling. And what temperature does it boil at? It's also about chemistry and chemical reactions. It's a wonderful learning opportunity cooking. It's great that you mentioned that one. And so how do we make cooking activity relevant to a really young child and maybe to an older child, for example, a child in year four at the same time. As you said before, Jacqui, each child really takes understandings and skills from the activity at their own level. So the younger child may be learning about the cup and how many cups of something has to go in while the older child might be really focusing on the actual measures of it, the 250 ml measure or you can sometimes make it a bit more challenging and maybe the recipe requires a 750 mls of something and you can only find the 250 ml cup. So, the older child needs to work out all the maths to work out how, how many cups to put in.

Jacqui Ward – Yeah, that's a really good point. I was thinking the same thing. You know, if it requires one cup, you could say, well, what are the different combinations we could do? If you've got a third of a cup, a quarter of a cup, you know, you can get an older child doing, well how many of these will we need to make one cup if it's a quarter cup. There's lots of different ways to mix it up. And again, if the child's even younger than sort of preschool age, you know, they might be the ones that are helping to put it into the mixer or whatever it is. You know? So, it's a, it's a great opportunity to do both, isn't it, to integrate different children in the one experience with learning and differentiate the learning within it. And it's also an opportunity to cover off on a range of subject or content areas as well.

Therese Winyard – Yeah, it's a really good example. Cooking and arranging the food. You know, it's one of the world's most important art forms, I think. Jacqui,

Jacqui Ward – That is true. I do wish I had a few more plating skills myself, but it's very, very fashionable now isn't it? With all the cooking shows to present food beautifully. Yeah. A good opportunity to be a bit creative and imaginative.

Therese Winyard – Yeah. So it's got everything in there, but it's not just planned activities either. Is it Jacqui?

Jacqui Ward – It could be things like, you know, you just watching the news and it's about looking at the weather forecast for tomorrow and we're working out what we, what we'll need to wear. I know today at my house it was quite chilly. Wasn’t expecting it? That wind-chill factor was a bit high, so it was a very cold day. So, you know, you can think about whether or not, we think that the prediction that was given, you know, the night before on the news was accurate the next day. And you can compare the data, you could be tracking it and charting it. If it has the little cloud over the sunshine, was it cloudy and sunny? Again, that's a great way to differentiate it for older and younger children. The older child could be tracking the data and recording it.

Jacqui Ward – The younger child could be just, you know, be the one that reports on whether or not the sun was out or the clouds were there or you know, talking about the language that meteorologists use, cold fronts and wind direction and you know, even just even if you don't know the answers to those things, good opportunity to look those answers up and, and why does the wind move things around or how does that work? How do wind currents work and all those sorts of things? And again, an older child could be the researcher, the younger child could be posing the questions, all of those sorts of things. Thinking about if that's something that they're interested in, how do you become a meteorologist, and would that be something that they would like to do? It's a great opportunity to explore opportunities for future careers in these sorts of experiences as well, if children are taking an interest.

Therese Winyard – Yeah, projecting themselves into that in the future and thinking about those things, then it's just all about that family communication and relationships too, isn't it? As you're discussing these things and building relationships and building trust with each other you know, there, it's all about having fun together as well as the family as we said before. And we've said all the way through the, through the podcast and there's been great examples I think that we've talked about here and there’s so many more. I've seen great examples of great musical performances where families have got together and done a performance and shared it with their friends or dancing routines or creative ideas and so much that can come just from that play situation that we were so passionate about Jacqui, that we’ve talked about through this series about encouraging play, about being aware that when children are playing without you, they're still learning. But that also when you can find the time to play with them, how valuable that is. When adults or aunts and uncles, older brothers and sisters all play together, the outcomes can be so amazing.

Jacqui Ward – Yeah, I agree. I think that's so important, you know, and what a great way to spend your day, even if only some of it was spent playing with your children. You know, I think that's fantastic. So that wraps up our podcast today. So, thanks for chatting with me today Therese. And this one is also the last in our series. So hopefully that everybody has learned a lot by listening along to the various players that we've had speaking in these podcasts, and that they've had a chance to get that valuable learning that's happening in those everyday home activities and routines and the importance of play and the importance of making learning visible to parents, to families and to children as well. So, thanks everybody for listening.

Therese Winyard – Thanks Jacqui. Thanks everybody. Bye.

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