A six step approach to thinking about family learning

‘In the case of libraries, operating in the age of the internet where books, reference materials and software are all readily available online, fostering learning and skills development in a shared environment is a unique and vital aspect of what libraries do.’ The Experiential Library.

Storycise, where families act out stories to improve their fitness in Bournemouth, a digital literacy course for 3-4 year olds in Norfolk and a Big Draw arts workshop in Kirklees are just some examples of the range of family learning taking place in local libraries, and highlighted in our new report The Experiential Library.

The report goes on to recommend a six-step approach to thinking about family learning and Libraries Week is the perfect opportunity to develop these learning opportunities locally. SCL’s Universal Learning offer is here to help libraries to become a space where children and adults explore and learn together and we are confident that the following six steps will help libraries to achieve this:

  1. Identify the need
    Work with partners to identify and respond to local need such as improving communication between parents and children or increasing the financial capability of families.
  2. Adopt a family learning approach to existing activities
    Activities do not have to be labelled as ‘family learning’ or even be about the family, instead look for opportunities to broaden learning in existing schemes such as the Big Draw or the Summer Reading Challenge.
  3. Define the outcomes
    These may be new knowledge and skills, new behaviours developed, improved relationship between adult and child, progression to other activities and the wider impact on the community.
  4. Tailor activities to the audience
    This may include targeting male relatives by the creation of specific activities, engaging hard to reach families by working with partners already working with these families and even targeting school leavers with employability training for both parent and child.
  5. Take an asset based approach to programme delivery
    While some activities require a dedicated space or professional facilitator, this is not always the case. Volunteers, friends of the library and even parents can all play a role in delivering family learning and, in the case of parents volunteering, this should also be viewed as a learning and development opportunity.
  6. Use technology
    Family learning can be used to address digital divides, not only between those who have access to technology and those who don’t but also between those are empowered by technology to expand their knowledge and those who are intimidated by the wealth of available information and so restrict themselves to using it for entertainment alone.

Read the full report here.

Julie Griffiths, MA MCLIP