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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Teaching for Home Learning: Primary Science. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second PAUL HOWARD-JONES: [Question] Can I use video and pictures to teach my child in order to engage her? Well video and pictures are great things to be using as part of your child’s learning the only thing I would say is,that it’s really important to be talking to your child about them so we know from research on toddlers TV for example that it can be educational but only if mum, dad or the caregiver is sat next to the child talking about what’s on the TV with the child and the sorts of questions which are good to strike up a helpful conversation are the sorts of questions beginning with ‘wh’ so what’s that who’s that you know where’s that going we tend to find those sorts of questions are really supportive of children’s learning in the in the early years.

Talking and questioning for learning

We have collaborated with Professor Paul Howard-Jones to provide a ‘parent guide’ to the science behind how our brain’s learn. The Science of Learning at Home website explores the educational neuroscience, but also introduces some underlying principles of learning in this introduction video recorded for parents/carers. We encourage you to have a look and to share with parents if you find it useful.

As part of this guide, Paul explains that talk plays an important role in supporting learning as it helps children make connections between new learning and prior learning.

For the child to understand new knowledge or a new question, they have to make a connection with what they already know. They have to connect it back to their prior knowledge. This isn’t always easy for children, because their brains are developing, so they will need a bit of extra support in doing it. [Parents/carers] can help them by encouraging them to go back to what they have learnt and to talk about it…” - Extract from the introductory video for parents

In the classroom, this is usually done by the teacher asking questions. In the home learning environment, the role of questioning may fall to parents/careers or other family members. For example, where a pupil is asked to watch a video or read some text, their parent/carer can support their learning by asking questions about their child’s understanding afterwards.

In the video above, taken from a Q&A recording, Professor Paul Howard Jones suggests that asking ‘Wh’ questions, such as ‘What’s that?’ or ‘Where’s that going?’ can be helpful. Importantly, these questions do not require the parent/carer to have the subject knowledge for the topic.

Suggest

If you were going to ask parents to help their children to reflect on the learning process by using this strategy, what top tips or prompt questions would you send home to support them with the discussion?

Give ONE tip of your own in the comments below, and then use other people’s tips to create a set of five top tips to send home for parents.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching for Home Learning: Primary Science

National STEM Learning Centre