EDCI 6229 Parents as partners in learning - the early years


Welcome to "Parents as partners in learning - the early years". This course will widen your view to the possibilities for involving parents or guardians in their child's education and the potential benefits and pitfalls that exist.

This course consists of three modules:

  1. How children learn
  2. Parents as partners in learning
  3. Building relationships

As you work through the course, you will:

  • look at some of the theories about how children learn
  • reflect on the variety of home backgrounds and lifestyles you may encounter and their advantages and challenges
  • explore the range of activities and interventions that are available to promote partnership with parents
  • develop strategies for building relationships



There is no preparation for this course.


This is an independent study program which means your individual starting date and due date are based on your date of registration. Your instructor will advise you of this due date.

This is an interactive online course. Although you will be able to complete some of it just by sitting in front of your screen working through the online material, we will regularly ask you to reflect on what you have learned, and put ideas into practice.

  • Activities - exercises or reflections for you to carry out in front of your computer screen. Unlike a Task, there is no specific end product, and you'll always be able to complete them on your own.
  • Tasks - similar to Activities, but requiring you to put your learning into practice in a specific situation in school.
  • Forms - use to collect the information learned.
  • Resources -

    a) RESOURCE FORMS: Has PDF forms to help you answer questions in the Student Books

    b) RESOURCE FURTHER READING: Includes clarifications about the module.

    c) REFERENCE LINKS: Has links to websites referred to in the module.

    d) DEFINITIONS: Has definitions of terms used in the module.

    e) BIBLIOGRAPHY: The bibliography is located at the bottom of this page that includes books you may check out at your local library.

  • Student Book- for you to record your reflections and send to your instructor.

At any time you may email your instructor with questions or problems you may be having with the material or the web site.

How do I get the Student Book to my instructor?

You will need to email it to your instructor. Download and save the document as described below and then you can enter your own text into the Student Book word document. Your instructor will expect a version of your Student Book as you complete each module. These can be saved by you in your files as well as being sent to your course instructor via email as an email attachment.

How do I save and name the Student Book?

You cannot type your answers on this web site. You must download your Student Book template which is a word document, by clicking on the download link below.

For your Student Book, please use a text document or a Microsoft Word document and type your text there. Title the document like this:

  • DATE


like this


Save the Student Book on your computer and complete the assignments on the document and then email it to your teacher.


STUDENTBOOK - Click here to download all student books



REFERENCES - There are no references for this course.

Module 1: How children learn

Module 1a: Intended learning outcomes for Module 1

Module 1b-Parents and the learning process

Module 1c- Activity 1: Theories of cognitive psychology

Module 1d- Activity 2: What happens in our brain when we learn?

Module 1e- Activity 3: Learning styles

Module 1f- Activity 4: Multiple intelligences

Module 1g-What have you learned? An evaluation of your learning in Module 1

Module 1h-Congratulations

Module 2: Parents as partners in learning

MODULE2a: Intended learning outcomes for Module 2

Module 2b- Introductory note – the importance of partnerships

Module 2c- The importance of partnerships (2)

Module 2d- The importance of the family

Module 2e- Activity 5: The role played by parents

Module 2f-Activity 6: Active and reflective learning

Module 2g-Task 1: Learning outside school – suggestions for parents

Module 2h-Activity 7: Learning through play

Module 2i-Task 2: Play workshops (1)

Module 2j-Task 2: Play workshops (2)

Module 2k-Task 3: A storytelling workshop

Module 2l-Setting a workshop in motion

Module 2m-Activity 8: Your school needs you

Module 2n-Activity 9: Code of behavior

Module 2o-Activity 10: Testing and standards

Module 2p-Task 4: Facing challenges together

Module 2q-What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 2

Module 2r-Congratulations


Module 3: Building relationships

Module 3a- Intended learning outcomes for Module 3

Module 3b- Activity 11: The principles of partnership

Module 3c- Task 5: Making a statement of partnership

Module 3d- Task 6: Creating a positive climate

Module 3e- Activity 12: Maintaining the relationship

Module 3f- Activity 13: Resolving conflict

Module 3g- Activity 14: Special needs

Module 3h- Task 7: A continuing process

Module 3i-Activity 15: What you found

Module 3j- What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 3

Module 3k- Congratulations

Module 1- How children learn

Module 1a-Intended learning outcomes for Types of conflict and their causes

By the end of this module you should:

  • understand some of the theories of cognitive psychology
  • know some basics about the neurological basis of learning
  • know some different learning styles
  • understand the basics of Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences


Module 1b - Parents and the learning process

Learning is a vital survival skill. We begin learning in the womb and make our greatest gains in skills and knowledge in the first few years after birth.

Young children constantly show their ability to absorb and process information from the range of situations and events they experience. This is why parents are so important in the learning process. They're the ones who nurture and care for the children and provide many of these early learning experiences.

Just one example of this is language acquisition. It's from their parents that children first hear the language that they'll grow up speaking. As Jean Aitchison says:

"...children build the language web by extracting what they need from the talk they hear around them."

It's also from their parents that children learn the values that inform their culture and how they're expected to behave socially. Parents have a key role.


Module 1c - Activity 1: Theories of cognitive psychology

Learning is as natural to children as breathing. They don't have to be forced to do it as they are inherently curious about the world in which they live. A child's brain is not like an empty bucket waiting passively for an adult to fill it up with information. Children gain knowledge by interacting with people and things.

To put it simply, children learn by doing. So, whatever a child's learning style, they're all active learners in so far as they think about what they see, hear and do and try to make sense of it.

By way of an initial introduction, read Resource 1, which summarizes some of the major theories of how the learning process develops in children. Then go to your Student book (1) to reflect on how these ideas match your own experience.


Module 1d - Activity 2: What happens in our brain when we learn?

Resource 2 gives a very brief explanation of what happens in our brain when we learn. Read it, then in your Student book (2), think about the implications all this has for the way you teach young children.
The following list contains just a few suggestions of how this could affect your teaching.

Do you:

  • use appropriate analogies so children make connections between what they already know and what you want them to learn?
  • give children the "big picture" before you concentrate on the details so that they can fit new information into this picture?
  • allow children time to ponder a problem rather than expecting "snap" judgments?
  • make sure the children have access to water during lesson times?
  • encourage the children to breathe deeply before starting on new topics?
  • take time to explain to the children about healthy eating?


Module 1e - Activity 3: Learning styles

Are you the kind of person who reads the instructions before assembling flat-pack furniture or do you prefer to rip open the packaging and figure it out as you go along? Perhaps you look at the diagrams first and go from there. Do you make a shopping list because the act of jotting down notes helps you remember what you need to buy? Would you rather listen to the radio than read a book? Your responses in these situations may reveal your preferred learning style(s).
Knowing which learning style (or styles) you prefer can make learning much easier. It's the same for the children you teach. In order to help them learn effectively, both parents and teachers need to be aware of what the main styles are and which ones are favored by our children. Then we'll be better equipped to give them the kind of experiences that will bring learning alive.

Read Resource 3 to see a description of some different learning styles. Then in your Student book (3), identify the most common learning styles shown by your children.

Note: Our course, called Learning styles, deals with this area in much more detail.


Module 1f - Activity 4: Multiple intelligences

As we've just seen, there's more than one way for a child to learn, or take in knowledge.
The related idea of multiple intelligences was put forward by Howard Gardner. "Intelligence" is the capacity to use knowledge to "solve problems or to create products that are valued within one or more cultural settings". It's the way we process the knowledge we have collected.

Again, we have a dedicated course, Multiple intelligences, that with this in more detail. This Activity is intended to give you only a brief introduction to the idea.

Gardner argued that there are more ways than one to be intelligent. He argued that there are in fact multiple intelligences, and parents and teachers can help children learn by discovering which type of intelligence their child has.

Resource 4 gives a brief summary of Gardner's ideas. Read it and then use your Student book (4) to think how far Gardner's theory matches your own experiences of how children process the information they receive.


Module 1g - What have you learned? An evaluation of your learning in Module 1

Look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 1.
By the end of this module, you should:

  • understand some of the theories of cognitive psychology
  • know some basics about the neurological basis of learning
  • know some different learning styles
  • understand the basics of Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences

In your Student book (5) make a note of the extent to which you have achieved these learning outcomes. Note any action you'll have to take in the future. Then, e-mail your comments to your instructor.


Module 1h - Congratulations



Module 2: Parents as partners in learning

Module 2A - Intended learning outcomes for Module 2

By the end of this module, you should:

  • understand the vital role families play in promoting children's learning
  • know a variety of ways that parents can help their child to build solid foundations for learning
  • have some ideas for involving parents in promoting active learning


Module 2B - Introductory note – the importance of partnerships

"In this complex world, it takes more than a good school to educate children. And it takes more than a good home. It takes these two major educational institutions working together." (Dorothy Rich)
Today there's no such thing as a typical family. They come in all shapes and sizes and each one exists within the context of a multicultural society that has a rich mix of beliefs, values and traditions. Yet all are linked together through the education system.

Children do far better in school when parents are involved in their children’s education in positive ways. Families who receive regular and constructive messages from teachers tend to become more involved in their children's education than families who don't. So it's in the best interests of everyone that the important role of parents is both acknowledged and supported.

To do this, schools must build trust and good communication with families. That way, both share the responsibility for generating a working relationship based on mutual trust and respect that will help children achieve their full potential, whatever their background.


Module 2C - The importance of partnerships (2)

For the approach outlined on the previous page to succeed, schools must be committed to providing a stimulating, well-organized educational environment that:

  • is inclusive and where children feel secure and valued for who they are
  • builds on what children can already do
  • gives opportunities for children, as well as teachers, to plan and initiate activities
  • appreciates children's natural curiosity
  • understands children learn best through play, talk and direct experience
  • encourages collaborative working and problem-solving

This remainder of this course aims to show you how you can work with parents to form this type of successful learning partnership.


Module 2D - The importance of the family

Long before children come to school, parents and families play an enormous part in helping them to develop intellectually, emotionally, morally and socially. A supportive, nurturing family relationship that allows each person to develop to their fullest potential is the most important protective factor for the healthy development of very young children. These familial relationships give children the solid social-emotional foundation they need to approach school with confidence, optimism, and a love of learning.


Module 2E - Activity 5: The role played by parents

In Module 1, we touched on the vital role parents play in ensuring their children acquire the knowledge, skills and values they need to succeed in the world. For example, they provide a role model for language development by:

  • talking to their children
  • telling them rhymes and stories
  • singing songs to them
  • sharing picture books and talking about what they see
  • reading to their children
  • playing games with them
  • encouraging imaginative play with toys
  • modeling writing

They give their children an appreciation of number by playing counting games with them. They nurture them physically by taking them for walks and teaching them how to swim and play sport. They stimulate their imaginations and curiosity by taking them to museums and out on family trips.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Parents teach by example and children learn how to behave appropriately and care for others by being part of a happy and well-adjusted family. Go to your Student book (6) and make a list of the many positive ways in which parents support their children's learning and development.


Module 2F - Activity 6: Active and reflective learning

We saw earlier how research by psychologists such as Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner has shown us that many children are active learners who learn best through play and direct experience. This isn't the case for all children of course – others prefer to reflect on things before becoming involved.

However they prefer to learn, all children use their brains to actively process information and a balance needs to be struck between thinking and acting. Teachers and parents can help children to achieve this by:

  • planning activities based on the children's interest
  • facilitating learning through encouragement
  • interacting positively with the children
  • encouraging children to talk about, and reflect on, what they have done

Think about the type of informal learning parents do with their children both before and after they've started school. Note your thoughts in your Student book (7).

Then compare your thoughts with those in Resource 5, which lists some of the ways in which parents may be involved in promoting learning


Module 2G - Task 1: Learning outside school – suggestions for parents

Parents are busy people and don't always feel they have the time or the teaching skills to help their children as much as they would like. Using as many or as few of the ideas in Resource 6 as you require, write a newsletter containing suggestions for simple learning games and activities that parents can play with their children at any time.

Bear in mind that parents will have different requirements in this area – some will find this useful, while others will wonder why you're suggesting these activities when they already have a massive repertoire of games to play with their children. Ask parents for feedback and adjust your future newsletters accordingly.


Module 2H - Activity 7: Learning through play

Young children learn through play. To illustrate this, imagine a simple game of tag. The group of children playing tag will have to:

  • set themselves goals
  • draw on previous knowledge
  • apply knowledge
  • organize and plan what they are doing
  • cooperate to achieve their goal
  • monitor their progress
  • evaluate the success of their activity

All of these strategies are learning strategies. Resource 7 gives you some examples of different play activities, the strategies they use and how they can be applied in school or the home. Think of a specific game early years children might play, and in your Student book (8), note what learning strategies it contains.


Module 2I - Task 2: Play workshops (1)

Many parents know all about the importance of play to their children's development, and have a good range of ideas and strategies to help develop their children's play. But not all families appreciate how vital this is. One way of helping them understand the importance of play is to organize a series of workshops where you can show parents (and teachers) how they can use games and other play activities to promote learning in school and in the home.

The next two Tasks are optional – they may be useful to you, but it very much depends on the context of your school.

To start, go to Student book (9) and make some initial notes on how you might go about organizing a workshop. The questions there should help you focus your thinking.


Module 2J - Task 2: Play workshops (2)

Inviting parents into school so that they can take part in play activity workshops alongside teachers is a good way of building up a partnership. A relaxed atmosphere will help break down barriers and foster mutual trust and cooperation. For this to be the case, you must make sure that nothing has been left to chance.

Print out Resource 8 and use the checklist to help you decide whether you've covered everything you need to do when organizing this series of workshops.


Module 2K - Task 3: A storytelling workshop

Storytelling is something of a lost art these days yet it's one of the easiest forms of education that can be shared by all the family. Given that you're trying to forge a partnership with the families in the community served by your school, it makes sense that you share information with parents about how storytelling can help their children. Again, a workshop is a good way of doing this. (But remember: as with the play workshops, many parents will not need any help in this area.)

Resource 9 gives you some key reasons why people should still tell stories. Use it as the basis of a handout for parents and teachers.

Inviting a storyteller from the community to come into school to lead the workshop will send a clear message that not only do you value the traditions of the community, but also that you're willing to learn from them.

If you can't get a storyteller in, we've provided an example of a traditional African story. Read it in Resource 10.


Module 2L - Setting a workshop in motion

Now that you have some ideas for a "learning through play" workshop, your task is to actually set it in motion. Remember your aims, regardless of the theme you have chosen. They are:

  • to make explicit that you and the parents share common goals
  • to emphasize that by working together you will improve the quality of the children's learning experiences
  • to show that learning through play is real learning
  • to strengthen your learning partnership with the parents

Once you've held the workshop, go to your Student book (10) to evaluate how far you have achieved these aims.

Module 2M - Activity 8: Your school needs you

A workshop is a good way of sharing your expertise and knowledge with parents. But the relationship works both ways – many parents have specific skills that they may be prepared to share with the school and wider community.

These parents represent a real resource you should connect with – not just when you need extra adults to come with you on school outings or to listen to children read. Use your Student book (11) to think about what the parents in your community can offer. You could, for example, use their expertise as part of your program of workshops.


Module 2N - Activity 9: Code of behavior

Schools and communities have a major role to play in promoting cooperative behavior and respect for others. Your school probably has a clear behavior policy that sets out:

  • what is and isn't acceptable
  • the hierarchy of sanctions
  • arrangements for their fair and consistent applications
  • linked system of rewards for good behavior

But did parents have any input in creating this important document?

Have a look at your school's behavior policy. How relevant is this policy to early years children? And more importantly, what input, if any, have the parents had in creating it? If they haven't been involved, why not? Note your thoughts in your Student book (12).


Module 2O - Activity 10: Testing and standards

The educational world today is very concerned with standards and testing. For example, in England, for very young children teachers use a profile system to assess the progress children are making towards the early learning goals. By law, parents must be offered:

  • a written summary reporting the child's progress against the early learning goals and the assessment scales
  • a copy of the profile, if requested
  • details of the arrangements under which the profile and its results may be discussed with a teacher
  • a reasonable opportunity to discuss the profile and its results with a teacher

Do you think this kind of feedback involves parents in a meaningful way? In your Student book (13), explore how you might involve the parents in building up a profile of what their children can do. Note any profiles, goals, benchmarks or assessment criteria that your own school currently uses or is developing.


Module 2P - Task 4: Facing challenges together

Many parents find much of what happens in schools confusing. They worry about what happens when their children move into more formal schooling. Some are also concerned about proficiency and other forms of testing and screening and the pressure these put on their children.

Think about the parents you've encountered in your school. In your Student book (14), note their main concerns. For example, are differing approaches to learning and teaching styles a major issue for parents?

Think about how best you can work together with the parents to deal with these worries. How can you help them see the big picture? For example, might holding a public meeting help?


Module 2Q - What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 2

Now that you've completed the Tasks and Activities in Module 2, look again at the intended learning outcomes for this module.

By the end of this module you should:

  • understand the vital role families play in promoting children's learning
  • know a variety of ways that parents can help their child to build solid foundations for learning
  • have some ideas for involving parents in promoting active learning

In your Student book (15), make a note of the extent to which you have achieved the learning intentions for Module 2. Then, e-mail your comments to your instructor.


Module 2R - Congratulations

Module 3: Building relationships

Module 3a Intended learning outcomes for Module 3

By the end of this module, you should:

  • have the key skills necessary for setting up effective partnerships
  • know some strategies for conflict resolution
  • be able to communicate appropriately with parents and evaluate the relationship you have with them


Module 3b - Activity 11: The principles of partnership

To forge successful partnerships with families, it's important that you and your school has a set of values that underpins your approach to parent/teacher relations.
Resource 11 lists some of the principles of effective partnership. Read it, and then in your Student book (16), reflect on how far your school puts these principles in practice in relationships with parents


Module 3c - Task 5: Making a statement of partnership

f you haven't got one already, it's a good idea to draw up a statement that reflects your school's commitment to working in partnership with parents.

Before you do so, have a look at Resource 12 to see an example of what such a statement might look like.

Then, in your Student book (17), make a note of your draft statement. Discuss it with colleagues, and then refine it.


Module 3d - Task 6: Creating a positive climate

To make a partnership work, you have to make parents feel welcome in your school. Some parents do not have happy memories of their own school days and may be reluctant to engage with you. Resource 13 contains some strategies to create a school where parents feel valued and respected.
When you've read Resource 13, print out Resource 14 and carry out an review to see how many of those strategies you actually use in your school. You may find it useful to sit down with a colleague to complete the form.


Module 3e - Activity 12: Maintaining the relationship

Parents, although very much involved in educating their children, are not teachers. They have their own careers, responsibilities and interests, which limit the time they can give to the school. As teachers, it's important we remember that they can't be expected to have the specialist skills needed to help their children with all the subjects on the curriculum.

We've seen that parental involvement in their children's education brings huge benefits for everyone. The question is how can you help to keep parents involved without making unrealistic demands on them?

Resource 15 lists some different ways in which parents can stay involved with the school, in a broader sense. In your Student book (18), consider how you can let parents know about these opportunities.


Module 3f - Activity 13: Resolving conflict

All partnerships will have some form of conflict – the one you create with parents is no different. There are strong characters with definite opinions in any community, so it's inevitable that, on occasion, sparks will fly. This is not always a negative thing. Often when people are able to resolve their differences constructively, a greater understanding is born and real progress is made towards achieving shared goals. If you're interested in learning strategies for dealing with conflict, have a look at our course, Coping with conflict.
For now though, by way of an introduction, Resource 16 contains some tips on how to handle conflict.

Then read Resource 17 which is a transcript of a conflict between a parent and a teacher.

If you were faced with a similar parent, how would you have dealt with the situation? Note your thoughts in your Student book (19).


Module 3g - Activity 14: Special needs

A strong partnership will survive in bad times as well as good. Every parent wants the best possible education for their child and every teacher wants to give them that.

Many children have special educational needs. Usually, most parents are aware of this before the school, and are keen to help the school provide the right resources for the child. This process is strengthened if the school keeps all parents informed on Special Educational Needs issues and how the school supports every child to achieve their potential.

However, there will be cases where a child is identified as having a special need and the parent will have to be made aware of what this means. In your Student book (20) note some thoughts on how you can relay this to them in a positive way.


Module 3h -
Task 7: A continuing process

It's unlikely that you'll ever feel you've established a finished working partnership with parents. Situations change, so your partnerships will always be work-in-progress.

You have to keep evaluating the progress you're making and fine-tune the relationship as appropriate. This means you need to find out how the children, parents and teachers feel about their experience with each other. There are lots of ways you can do this. You might design a questionnaire or hold a series of meetings. You could ask everyone to suggest three things they like about the school and one thing they don't. You might invite parents to email their views to the school's website. You could hold a telephone poll or interview people directly.

Go to your Student book (21) and list what you feel will be the most effective and appropriate ways of gathering opinions. Then your task is to put them into practice.


Module 3i - Activity 15: What you found

When you have some feedback, in whatever form, examine it carefully. Are you pleased, surprised or shocked? Is everyone in agreement? Do parents feel valued? Do children feel happy and supported? Do the teachers feel enthused and inspired?
Use your Student book (22) to sort out the responses. Decide how you will let people know what you've discovered and how you will act on your findings.


Module 3j - What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning in Module 3

Now that you've completed the Tasks and Activities in this module, look again at the intended learning outcomes.
By the end of this module you should:

  • have the key skills necessary for setting up effective partnerships
  • know some strategies for conflict resolution
  • be able to communicate appropriately with parents and evaluate the relationship you have with them

In your Student book (23) make a note of the extent to which you have achieved these learning outcomes. Then, e-mail your comments to your instructor.


Module 3k - Congratulations






Resource 2: What happens in our brains when we learn

The human brain is a dense mass of billions of cells (or neurons) that are all connected to one another. When you learn something, an electro-chemical signal creates a trail through these billions of neurons. As the impulse travels through the cells it makes connections between them. This trailblazing activity makes it a bit easier for the impulse to find the pathway next time. This is because it leaves an imprint or memory of the experience behind it. When you repeat the experience the impulse takes the same route through your brain as before. This helps to deepen and reinforce the impression made. This is the learning process the more connections you make, the more effective your brain becomes. For example, when you first learned how to count from one to ten, you put down pathways for that experience. The more you repeated the experience of counting, the more defined those pathways became until recalling the numbers from one to ten became very easy indeed.

The same thing happens with your emotional response to learning. If the learning experience is always enjoyable the impulse deepens and reinforces that experience so that the learner associates learning with enjoyment. Obviously, the opposite also holds true. 

The brain doesn't always think quickly. This is because complex problems need to be mulled over and reflected on before deciding which is the most appropriate solution. Yet in school we tend to focus on "quick' thinking. The tests we set for children are a good example of this. Guy Claxton in his book Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind says that we need to encourage both types of thinking. 

The brain also works while we sleep. It processes the information that it's been subjected to during the day and makes sense of it so that, when we wake up, we often find we have a better understanding of something than we did the night before. This is why the saying, 'I'll sleep on it before making my mind up' is such a wise one. 

To be at its best, the human brain needs water, proper nutrients, and a good supply of oxygen. So it's important that children and adults drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables and take plenty of exercise, but also have plenty of sleep if they want their brains to work well.


Resource 3: Learning styles

The VAK model

Just one model of learning styles is the "VAK" model. This proposes that there are the following three different styles of learning:


A visual learner likes to learn through pictures and images. They prefer to see stories acted out rather than read or listen to them. They're interested in diagrams, maps and charts. They enjoy expressing themselves through painting and drawing. They're good at creating pictures in their mind's eye and respond well to "mind-mapping" techniques as a way of recalling complex information. 


An auditory learner has a tendency to think in words and to verbalize concepts. They usually spell words accurately and easily as they can hear the different sounds. This means they prefer to learn to read phonetically rather than by using "look and say" techniques. Auditory learners are often good readers but may well prefer to listen to a story. They enjoy listening to the radio and tape recorders. People with this style of learning tend to have a good ear for music and can recall names, dates and trivia with ease. They like to break learning down into chants and rhymes, e.g., the multiplication tables.


A kinesthetic learner processes knowledge through physical sensations. They're usually highly active and rarely able to sit still for long. They communicate by using body language and gestures and would rather show you something than tell you about it. They like to touch and feel the world around them. They love sport or other activities where they can keep moving. They respond well to hands-on activities in art and drama and practical experiments in science, because these allow them to be physically involved. Kinesthetic learners are less keen on long-range planning, complicated projects and paper and pencil tasks where they have to sit still for any length of time.

Note: Although the VAK theory suggests the three different styles of learning, no one uses each style exclusively – there will usually be significant overlaps – but it's fair to say that at any one time, you will see each type of learner in your classroom.


Resource 4: Gardner's eight multiple intelligences

In his book, Frames of Mind: Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner identifies eight types of intelligence:

  • Linguistic intelligence
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence
  • Spatial intelligence
  • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence
  • Musical intelligence
  • Interpersonal intelligence
  • Intrapersonal intelligence
  • Naturalist intelligence

Gardner claims that schools focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. He takes the view that we only really value the highly articulate or logical people of our society. Gardner feels that we should place equal attention on those who show gifts in the other intelligences such as the artists and musicians who enrich our world.

He argues that if children who have these gifts don't receive much encouragement or reinforcement in school or at home they will be written off as underachievers or troublemakers. The theory of multiple intelligences has huge implications for schools, parents and the way we teach our children.  

The theory of multiple intelligences also gives adults a new way to look at their lives. They may have suffered in the past because their talents were not appreciated or nurtured, but could now realize the potential that they never had the chance to develop when they were at school.


Resource 5: Key things parents do
There are many things parents can do to support their children’s learning. The list below contains some of the kinds of parental involvement which are consistently linked with children becoming successful learners.

  • Reading aloud to children is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child’s chance of becoming a fluent reader with a love of books.
  • Talking to children about books and stories read to them also supports reading achievement.
  • Telling stories to and with children encourages them to develop their speaking and listening skills.
  • Writing such things as shopping lists, reminder notes, emails, family letters or stories together shows children that writing can be fun and has a real purpose.
  • Taking children on outings and walks and encouraging them to talk about what they see and hear builds on their natural curiosity and gives them the confidence to ask questions.
  • Joining a library with children gives them access to a wide range of resources to support their learning.
  • Playing number games and counting rhymes helps the child to gain an appreciation of mathematics.
  • Actively organizing and monitoring a child’s time helps them to structure their learning and to remain on-task.
  • Helping with homework shows the child that the parent values what the school is doing and provides a role model for collaborative working.
  • Discussing school matters helps the child to feel supported and that education is important.


Resource 6:



Resource 7:



Resource 8:



Resource 9: Why tell stories?

  • Everybody loves listening to a story
  • Everyone has a story to tell
  • Good storytelling captures children’s imaginations
  • Storytelling encourages good listening habits
  • Storytelling needs no expensive resources
  • Stories are about what it is to be human and living in the world.
  • Telling a story allows you to connect directly with your audience
  • Storytelling links tales from out there in the world with stories printed on the page to the benefit of both
  • Many stories have similar versions in different languages and cultures
  • Effective teaching is good at explaining what things mean. Storytelling has been doing this since the earliest times
  • Storytelling enhances understanding of narrative structure
  • Storytelling gives everyone a chance to take part in one of the world’s oldest and most accessible art forms
  • Storytelling brings fun into the home and school


Resource 10: The Tale of Five Dollars

Everyone in Africa knows why dogs chase cars.

Once, a long time ago, a dog, a goat and a donkey took a ride in a taxi. They needed to go back to their homes. When they reached the first village the donkey brayed and told the taxi driver to stop.

"This is my village", he said. "How much do I owe you?"

"Five dollars", replied the taxi driver.

The donkey gave him the money and the taxi drove on with the goat and the dog still aboard.

After a couple of minutes, the goat leaned over to the driver and said,

"Stop the taxi. This is where I get out."

The goat clambered out of the taxi and onto the dusty road. He grinned at the driver. "What's the fare?" he asked.

"Five dollars", said the driver.

The goat laughed and then raced off into the bush without paying.

The taxi driver was furious but there was nothing he could do except shake his fist at the scoundrel's disappearing back.

In a terrible temper, he drove on until he came to the dog's house.

"How much for the ride?" asked the dog politely.

"Five dollars", answered the taxi driver.

The dog handed over a ten dollar bill and waited for his change. But the driver stuffed the money into his pocket and roared off down the road leaving the dog standing in a cloud of dust.

So now you know why a donkey, a goat and a dog all do different things when they see a car coming towards them.

The donkeys just stand still and make the car drive round them. They don't have a guilty conscience. They paid the driver their fare. But if a goat sees a car it runs away into the bush. It's worried that it's the taxi driver coming for his five dollars.

Dogs, on the other hand, spend their days chasing every car they see. They're still searching for the taxi driver who stole their money


Resource 11: Principles of partnership

The list below contains some of the broad principles of partnership:

  • Cooperation is in direct opposition to the "everyone for themselves" ethic.
  • A group cooperating to their mutual benefit is capable of achieving far more than a collection of individuals.
  • Everyone involved has something to offer the partnership.
  • The more people are able to affect the partnership they are involved in, the greater their commitment to making the partnership a success.
  • The value of the ideas contributed does not depend on the status of the individual in the partnership.
  • Any member of the partnership has a responsibility to help make it a success.
  • A partnership must have a meaningful common purpose.


Resource 12: An example of a partnership statement
School's Partnership Statement

  • Our school is committed to a partnering relationship with parents.
  • We work with parents in an atmosphere of respect, honesty, and open dialogue.
  • We encourage and invite parents to approach their child's teachers and the school to take part in
  • meaningful discussions about their child's abilities, needs and development.
  • We value the part played by parents in educating their children.
  • We believe that each child is an individual who has much to contribute to our school and community.
  • We believe that the best way to gain an understanding of each child is when we share information and collaborate with the parents and with each other.
  • We believe our school community has many strengths and resources and we draw on them to support and promote learning.


Resource 13: Creating a positive climate

  • First impressions are important. Make sure the first contact parents have with your school is positive.
  • Always use plain, straightforward language when talking with or writing to parents.
  • Keep parents up-to-date with what’s going on in the school and the classroom.
  • Encourage parents to let you know what they think of the school and the job you are doing in educating their children.
  • Let parents see that, where appropriate, you act on what they say.
  • Be flexible when scheduling appointments for parents to meet teachers for progress reports.
  • Make sure you have the means to communicate with parents in their home language.
  • Set up regular, meaningful channels of communication between home and the school.
  • Provide opportunities and workshops for parents to develop their skills.
  • Encourage parents to be actively involved in their children’s education.
  • Recruit parents as volunteer/paid workers in school.
  • Involve parents in decision-making on issues that affect their children.
  • Show that your school values the local community as a vital reservoir of skills and inspiration.




Resource 15: Parental involvement

The list below contains some suggestions for parents about how they can be more involved with the school.

  • keep in regular contact with your child’s teacher – don’t just wait for parents’ meetings
  • attend school meetings – open evenings, etc
  • arrange to make contact by phone if attendance in person is impossible
  • attend school events – concerts, plays etc
  • volunteer to help with school events – run stalls, make costumes, paint scenery, etc
  • join the PTA or "Friends of the School" Association
  • start a "Friends of the School" if no such organization exists
  • become a member of the school Board
  • act as a point-of-contact volunteer between the community and the school
  • offer to share any specialist skills or knowledge with the school – mother tongue language
  • support, acting as a translator, etc
  • be a fundraiser for the school
  • organize and run, or help to organize and run, activities and clubs at lunch time and after school
  • give a group/class/whole school talk on your job/hobby/culture
  • set up a family/cultural resource centre in the school
  • be a paid/unpaid assistant
  • help write/edit/publish school newsletters


Resource 16: Handling conflict – the basics

  • Be constructive
  • Look at the issues, not personalities
  • Collect the facts – seek all views
  • Assess possible solutions
  • Choose the best option
  • Take action


Resource 17: A conflict

Teacher: Ms. Johnson, I need a word with you.
Ms. Johnson: Do you? Well that's funny because I need a word with you too. That book you sent home with my Sasha's too babyish for her. She should be reading proper books.

Teacher: Well, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. Reading isn't a matter of barking at print. It's about understanding.

Ms. Johnson: Wait a minute. What are you talking about? What do you mean "Barking at print?" She's not a dog you know.

Teacher: Obviously, but my point is that Sasha may be able to read words but she often doesn't understand what she's reading.

Ms. Johnson: Oh, so now you're saying she's stupid?

Teacher: Ms. Johnson, you're not listening to me.

Ms. Johnson: No! You're not listening to me. I want Sasha to read proper books like she does at home.

Teacher: Yes, that's all very well, but do you ever actually talk with her about what she's read?

Ms. Johnson: Of course I do. Oh I see. I must be doing it wrong because I'm only a Mother, is that it?. But you know best because you're a teacher.

Teacher: That's not what I'm saying at all.

Ms. Johnson: Well, that's what it sounds like to me.

Teacher: Ms Johnson have you seen our policy on teaching reading?

Ms. Johnson: No and if it's written by the likes of you I don't want to!

Teacher: That's not a very helpful attitude, Ms Johnson.

Ms. Johnson: Really? Well, I don't find your attitude very helpful either. In fact, I'm going to the principal to complain.

Teacher: Fine. I'll come with you because I can't have you undermining my teaching.



No Definitions in this module.




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