Families graduate from school learning programme

Parents of Belmont pupils pose with the children
Parents of Belmont pupils pose with the children

Families who have been participating in a family learning school initiative celebrated their achievements at a graduation at Belmont Primary School in Stranraer recently.

FLASH (Family Learning and Schools Homework) has been a family learning programme that has focused on literacy, language and numeracyinvolving local families coming into school together and participating in a range of fun learning activities.

Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Education committee, Jeff Leaver, said of the project: “One of our council’s priorities is to provide the best start in life for all our children. It is pleasing to hear of initiatives such as FLASH, and how much the service users get out of such initiatives. Initiatives like this create a positive environment where the whole family can learn together. Children have clearly benefitted from the programme by having help with homework and parents have gained the confidence to help out with their child’s homework. Our council will continue to support and operate programmes such as FLASH so that children can continue to grow and learn.”

Parents participated in playtime activities and focus play which helped them understand issues such as fine motor skills and the educational importance of play. The focus play activity in particular helped parents to realise the benefit of one-to-one play.

Children also benefitted from their parents participating in the programme. Many spoke about an increase in shared family activities through taking the focus play bags home and spending ‘family time’ enjoying the games. Families received a free hamper for attending with family games and free family swims at the Ryan Centre has led to families spending more time together experiencing a wider range of activities out with school.

One of the main benefits for families has been that FLASH helped take away the stress of homework. By completing homework together in class time parents spoke about homework being a far calmer and more enjoyable experience and parents became more confident in asking staff for advice about doing homework.

Through parental attendance at FLASH the need for a dads group was established. Fathers have a critical role to play in ensuring positive outcomes for their children. There is consistent evidence that fathers’ interest and involvement in their children’s learning is statistically associated with better educational outcomes. As a result of speaking to the dads and granddads who did attend F.L.A.S.H a specific series of dads and kids sessions were planned. The first block consisted of story-telling activities with a local author. This involved story-telling and related activities allowing dads to get involved in fun structured play with their child. With the second block focussing on practical cooking skills. The course focussed on health and wellbeing outcomes allowing dads and their kids to cook together and also looking at government guidelines around healthy eating and what their children are taught in school. The evaluation from dads was very positive indicating that they do not ‘get the chance’ to cook at home with their children and it helped them overcome their own fears about coming into school; getting to know staff and spending quality one-to-one time with their children.