A child and her mum are looking happily at each other.

How one teacher improved home-school relationships to support home learning.

Apr 12, 2023

This blog post is a case study of how one nursery teacher improved home-school relationships to work in partnership with a parent to help bridge the gap, particularly with early language development, which impacts all areas of learning.

Linda is a 27-year-old single parent with two primary-aged children. The youngest child attended the morning session at my nursery. Linda became involved with the Mouse Club Project in July 2018 and, after a reluctant start, became a keen participant throughout the academic year. 

What we did.

We introduced the Mouse Club during our home visits in the summer term. After a chat about what was going well and what they needed support with, we shared the Mouse Club advice leaflets on bedtime routines, toileting and what to expect on the first day at school. We also gave each child a mouse and explained how they had to show Mouse how they were getting ready for school.

Linda explained that the mouse was a success and that her daughter “took it everywhere during the summer holidays."

We invited the families to bring the mouse to a Stay and Play session before the end of the term in July. During the Stay and Play, staff modelled Mouse Club learning activities – A House for Mouse and Making Playdough. All the parents were given activity sheets to take away to try the activities at home. Linda attended the session with her daughter and Mouse. With encouragement from staff, she participated in the play dough task, observing how to make play dough and taking away the advice leaflet.

At the follow-up session in October, Linda commented that she had not made the play dough yet; she lacked confidence and wasn't sure what to do. After using the Model Mentor Coach approach and giving lots of reassurance and encouragement, Linda seemed keener to try. The following week she told staff she had made the play dough, and they had all "loved it". Staff reminded Linda how she was supporting her children's learning with this activity and of the benefits for her daughter's development. This empowered Linda as she hadn't realised how children could learn through play and how she could support this; she said, "We were just playing with it; I didn't realise we were doing all that!"

During November and December, we completed a series of parent workshops to introduce more learning activities. We invited eight families at a time to the workshop. We mixed less engaged parents with more confident parents dividing them into groups by surname. Linda signed up for the workshop and attended with her mother as she felt more positive about being involved with school and wanted to share this.

Linda was the first parent to reach the target and complete six activities with her child. She completed and returned the record sheet, giving positive comments, and even asked for more activities!

It was evident from Linda's daughter that the home learning activities were having a positive impact. When reading We're Going On A Bear Hunt in the reading corner, she told staff, "I read this with my mummy; we played it as well."

What were the outcomes?

Mouse Club built Linda's confidence in supporting her children's learning at home, and they enjoyed doing the activities together. Linda said, "We love the Bear Hunt activity; it's our favourite. Ashleigh always asks me to do it with her, and we do it over and over. She never gets bored of it. She loves school, and she plays school all the time. I play it with her too, and I've got loads of little videos of her being the teacher on my phone."

When asked if she felt more confident in supporting her child at home with homework in the future, Linda responded, "Yeah, definitely. It's good, and she just loves me doing it with her."

The home-school relationship has been strengthened, and we will continue to build on this as Linda’s children move through the school.

Find out more about the PEN Mouse Club Project here.

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