Family Learning puts parents and children on an equal footing

1 February 2017

Computing skills can often feel like the biggest gulf between parents and children, with the younger generation often being the ones teaching their elders, and parents feeling distant from a huge part of their children’s lives. This is where we come in.

CLC Family Learning provides a place where learners can not only improve their digital skills but also devote time to thinking about how they engage with, play with and work with their children. Adults often come to us convinced that they can’t turn a computer on, and leave having learned how to Skype relatives, programmed a robot, made an animated film, or created a digital book.

One particular course saw parents and children build and program a robotic arm. We find that computer jargon can really put some adult learners off from exploring their potential with technology, so by breaking down the instructions and demystifying terms, our parents were able to create a programme for their robot – something that very few were sure they would be able to do at the start of the workshop. The technology was totally new to both adults and children, so the learning process happened simultaneously, with each generation helping out the other, highlighting some of the main aims of Family Learning:

Parents and children have a shared goal – one of the most common things for a parent to feed back after a Family Learning course is how positive it was to have a joint sense of purpose with their child. We work to make sure that, whilst our parents are learning new skills, be it filming, coding or photography, they also have a tangible take-home at the end of the course which can serve as a goal point for both them and their child. If both parent and child are working toward the same goal then their successes are shared ones, and the difficulties that they come across have to be tackled together. This can increase confidence levels in both parent and child, and help to establish new lines of communication.

Children realise that grown-ups need to learn things too – often as adults, we are really reluctant to admit to children that we are not all-knowing. Family Learning puts parents and children on an equal footing, learning a new skill together. For children to see their parent learn alongside them, or even for children to be able to teach their parent a thing or two, is an incredibly positive thing; it lets them see that it is OK not to know things sometimes and helps to encourage the development of a growth mindset.

Parents gain the confidence that they can learn new skills – learning doesn’t have to finish when you leave school. It is often easy to assume that, if you don’t know something by the time you are an adult then you will never know it. Family Learning offers the opportunity to open learners up to the possibilities of adult education, outside of a potentially intimidating formal adult education environment; many of our learners go on to take further adult education classes or undertake professional training.

Suki Coe, Family Learning Manager, London Connected Learning Centre

Ideas for Family Learning Providers

The Scratch website is a great place to start, it has a help section full of tips to get you started. The ‘scratch cards’ are particularly helpful.

For parents who want to try some physical computing, there’s the BBC microbit. You can program the microbit in lots of ways and before you spend the money on the real thing you can test your programs on a simulator within the code editor

We also love using w3schools, which has tutorials on loads of different programming languages. It’s a great place to try HTML

You can find out more about our Raspberry Jam’s Family Hack Day and our Microbit work

Video of L&W Family Robotics programme