We know that adult involvement in children's learning at home can have a powerful impact on their learning and development at school. This can mean supporting their learning and development in school subjects, but also includes providing moral support, taking an interest, caring about their progress and valuing education.
Research studies have identified a positive link between what adults do to support children’s learning and development at home and their attainment in school. The things that adult carers can do to support children's learning are often quite simple, but they can have a big impact on a child's progress and attainment.
What can foster carers do to support children's learning?
A research study by the University of Warwick found that when adult carers are directly engaged with children's learning at home this has a positive influence on children's educational outcomes. The study of secondary schools found that 'engagement' from carers included providing moral support, taking an interest, valuing and caring about education and helping with homework.
Foster carers can:
- Talk to the child about their progress at school
- Set routines around completion of homework
- Encourage them to say 'yes' if they are offered additional support or opportunities
- Keep up to date with how the child is doing by talking to their class teacher, subject teacher or form tutor
- Use any home to school communication system to let the school know how things are at home, including how well home learning is going
- As the child about one thing that they have learned during the day
- Ask what helped improve their understanding or remember what they have learned
- Ask how this will help in other lessons
- Ask what the child most enjoyed learning during the day
- Ask the child what they can do at home to support their learning in school
- Build on and encourage the child's strengths and interests
- Recognise their successes e.g. how their work has improved over a period of time.
To facilitate partnership working schools need to establish a positive ethos of engaging with foster carers.
Based on an extract from the Achievement for All Toolkit for Designated Teachers, developed in association with The Fostering Network.
Supporting children with homework
- Agree regular times to complete homework with your fostered child or young person. Make sure that they have a quiet place to work and minimise distractions.
- Look at the last piece of homework and read the teacher's comments together. Discuss how they are going to act on any feedback and think of what they might need to do to improve.
- Check your child's homework with them before they hand it in. Discuss with them whether they have made the improvements suggested by their teacher in the last piece of homework.
- Praise them for what they have done well; do not dwell on what they have not done well.
- If your fostered child finds a particular piece of homework challenging let their teacher know that they need more support in that particular subject area. You could also write a note on the homework.
- Look out for gaps. If a child in your care has moved schools or not attended school for periods of time they may have missed essential parts of the curriculum. If you notice gaps in their knowledge it is essential that you communicate these to the school so that appropriate support can be put in place.
Where to go for support
Useful links and information for your school or local area may be found on:
- School websites
- School newsletters and information sheets
- Your local library website
- Council newsletters.
Guidance and links to curriculum support materials are available on the following webpages:
- Supporting mathematics for primary learners
- Supporting reading for primary learners
- Supporting writing for primary learners