• instructional coherence: the experience learners have when messages that come from different sources (families and educators, for example) are the same or build on each other
  • cognitive development: the process of knowing, thinking, reasoning, and remembering
  • language development: the process of developing language skills to understand and engage in conversation
  • self-regulate: the ability to regulate or control one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior
  • social development: the ability to use appropriate social skills to communicate and interact with others

Help Families Extend the Learning

Before watching this video, read the text below. When instructed, watch the video from the beginning to end.

Young children need many opportunities to practice and reinforce all that they are learning in their early childhood programs. You can help families extend the learning by communicating regularly to families what children are learning and by providing examples of ways to build upon the learning.

  • Provide families with clear and explicit examples of ways to use key learning strategies and activities at home. For example, say, We worked on counting by two’s today. As you go about your day, ask your child to join you in counting things that come in two, like when putting away pairs of shoes or socks.
  • Help families establish fun daily routines that require reading, mathematics, and science strategies, such as singing the “ABCs” when in the car or on the bus, counting placemats while setting the table, observing and predicting while on a walk, and so on.
  • Show families how to naturally integrate learning activities within everyday activities such as cooking, grocery shopping, and bedtime routines.
  • Provide families with strategies to engage children in conversation such as asking open-ended questions: What was your favorite thing you did at school today? What did you eat for lunch today? This helps build the child’s vocabulary and thinking skills.

In this video, you’ll see educators offer strategies to engage children in learning at home, and how parents and caregivers weave these ideas into everyday activities and routines.

As you watch, look for effective strategies used by the educators in the video and jot down answers to these viewing questions in your Learning Log.

  • How do the educators help families extend the learning at home?
  • What role do daily routines play in learning at home?


Why is it important for families to extend the learning at home?

  • When school and families work together on the same skill or strategy, they create instructional coherence, which, in effect, doubles the child’s ability to learn. The child hears the same language, uses the same skills, and learns the same concepts in the learning environment and at home.
  • Young children thrive when there is consistency in their lives. When families and educators work together, the child sees and knows that there is consistency, collaboration, and trust between them.

What suggestions can educators make to families about extending the learning at home?

  • Directly relate the learning to what learning is happening that day (or week) in the early learning program. Children will then experience a clear connection between program activities and home activities. For example,
    • If children are learning how to sort in math, families might be encouraged to elicit their child’s help in sorting laundry, utensils, or toys during household chores.
    • If children are learning a particular letter that week, such as the letter “s” and letter sound /s/, families can reinforce the learning during the evening meal preparation by asking their child to find the letter “s” on ingredient packages or to name items on the table that begin with the letter sound /s/.
  • Use daily routines to extend the learning at home. For example, during weekly grocery shopping, a parent could have their child sort and count apples as they are placed in a bag, look for particular letters or numbers on signs during a walk, or count flowers as they water the garden.
  • Identify organic learning opportunities in everyday activities. For example, if children are focusing on counting in their early learning program, families can integrate counting naturally by encouraging their child to count stairs as they climb or descend, count napkins when setting the table, or count bath toys.
  • Engage children in conversation. Young children benefit from lots of talking. Educators can encourage families to engage children in conversation as much as possible and to integrate it naturally into daily routines—in whatever language they are most comfortable with. For example, families can ask children to tell them about their day; about the ways they are stacking blocks, about the illustrations they see in a book, and so on. These interactions work to strengthen children’s language and social development.


Think about the learning environment at your own program as you answer these reflection questions in your Learning Log.

  • What strategies do you use to help families actively participate in their child’s learning at home?
  • What did you learn that you will put into practice in your own learning environment?
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