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Journeys Anew and Journeys Ongoing: Supporting the Return to School

Parents' Guide to Foster a Love for Learning

Welcome September, however warm it may be! How is your month going? If you follow the UK school calendar, your little ones may be back into the swing of their school days - or just starting their exciting journey into learning away from home. Whether this is your child’s first year at school, or they are well into their journey, September can bring mixed emotions - so we send lots of love your way! 

As your children get to grips with the wonderful world of learning, you may well be thinking about how you can support them alongside their school teachings, as well as the many big feelings that crop up along with big changes. As parents passionate about learning through play (with a previous teacher on the team too) we have lots of ideas to invoke creativity, inventing, and playful magic to complement what your child is getting up to at school. Here are our favourite open-ended resources to do just that! 

Emotions 

Whether your child is just starting or just starting back, there are bound to be big feelings all around. A lovely emotions print like this can be a great way to talk about feelings when, like the Colour Monster, those emotions are ‘all over the place’! The Little Coach House has just the ticket.

Shape, space and number 

Mathematics is a core part of all teaching and learning, and underpins everything in the world around us! It helps little ones understand and interact with the exciting world we live in, and should stay relatable, engaging, and relevant to a child’s everyday life. Why not add some hands-on activities that can inspire all sorts of maths teaching? Here are a few ideas:

  • A fun challenge game invoking shape and number-focused thinking. What 2D shapes can children create? Can they replicate a formula, or add up the pieces required to play?
  • A great set of blocks that can be used for counting, multiplication, shape building and 3D comparison. 
  • A simple set of counting trays from The Little Coach House for hands-on counting: simply add in whatever loose parts you have around the house. Beads, pasta, sticks - whatever you have to hand to keep things interactive! 
  • A selection of number flashcards to support number recognition on the go in a simple, straightforward way.
  • An interesting coding game to get little ones involved in computing alongside problem-solving.

It’s important to say that alongside all of these beautiful resources, a lot of things lying around your home or outdoors can bring mathematics to life at no cost at all. Incorporate maths in counting steps to the park, or up your stairs. Count with stones, sticks and leaves. Talk about the patterns in flowers or the spots on a ladybird. Measure ingredients for a cake and talk about mass and weight! The list goes on. 

Reading and writing

Another vital part of the school day - and part of unlocking the rest of the curriculum! Of course, the most important thing we can do for little ones is introduce a range of books to their budding minds. By sharing a love of reading and storytelling, we set our little ones up for a life of loving the written word! Alongside this, simple games and role play can really enhance what they find within the pages. Here are a few ideas for supporting your little one’s adventures in reading. 

Nothing gets budding writers excited like purposeful writing. Here is a fun post office set that will get your small folk engaged in letter writing role play!

For a straightforward resource to support reading, you can’t go wrong with alphabet flashcards. Build and decode words, or play teachers.

Art and design 

Add an extra touch of creativity with these beautifully designed crayons. Colouring is a wonderful activity for little ones to reduce stress, support colour recognition, promote concentration and patience, and of course aid fine motor skills!

Or, how about singing familiar songs (or creating your own!) with beautiful open-ended musical instruments! Sure to be loved for a long time and used by children of all ages. 

Getting outdoors

Outdoor learning is a special part of the early years curriculum - and should continue on as our little acorns grow into oak trees. Getting into the great outdoors promotes a healthy body and mind, provides a bounty of opportunities to develop gross motor skills, teamwork and collaboration (think den building!), and of course fosters a love for the natural world. 

We just love den kits for encouraging little ones to build and explore in the great outdoors. Little ones may need a hand, older ones might go it alone! Perfect for encouraging problem solving and role play too.

Who doesn’t love a cosy gardening potter? There is much to learn in exploring plants as they grow, and nothing quite calms a busy post-school brain like a spot of pruning. Here’s a great gardening set to get you started.

Happy learning!

Whatever you get up to with your little ones, we wish you peace and joy in this exciting season. Happy learning!

Emily Hanson

Freelance Writer, Education and Play Specialist

Emily Hanson is a freelance writer with specialisms in education and play. Emily holds a PGCE and M.Ed from the University of Cambridge - although her proudest achievements are her two beautiful daughters.

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