By Admin, on 21 May 2021
(Erica Ranzato, Andrew Tolmie, Jo Van Herwegen)
Photo source: Unsplash_Annie Spratt
Home Learning Environment (HLE) refers to all of the activities and opportunities provided by parents to support their child’s overall academic success. It includes the frequency of home learning experiences, the availability of resources that promote learning, children’s participation in the learning activities and parents’ attitudes towards learning. Cross-cultural research on typically developing populations suggests that the HLE during early years has a pivotal role for the development of children’s literacy skills (Senechal & LeFevre, 2014) and mathematical abilities (Mutaf-Yildiz et al., 2020).
We investigated for the first time the HLE of 24 primary school children with Williams syndrome (WS), using a parental web-based survey and our findings showed that:
- Literacy-based activities occurred more frequently than maths-based activities.
- Parents provided a varied HLE characterized by maths activities supporting different skills such as counting, digit recognition, arithmetic, and numeracy.
- Parents engaged with their child in both formal and informal literacy and maths-based activities, but informal activities occurred more often when supporting counting and number recognition skills.
- Parents had high expectations for their child’s literacy and number knowledge skills at the end of primary school, but their expectations for their child’s arithmetic skills were significantly lower compared to the other categories.
- Parents that had higher expectations for their child were, in general, offering more frequent learning activities at home.
- When compared to a group of parents of primary school children with Down syndrome (DS), parents of children with WS provided maths-based activities that supported counting and number recognition less often than parents of children with DS. This might be explained by the fact that, although parents of children with WS recognised their child’s difficulties with mathematics, they may underestimate the difficulties that their child might have specifically with counting.
Although the HLE for children with WS was varied and parents had overall high expectations for their child’s academic abilities, it is recommended that parents provide short (5-10 minutes) but frequent activities that focus on maths as well as literacy development. If you would like further inspiration for informal mathematical activities, have a look at our Math@home work (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/departments-and-centres/departments/psychology-and-human-development/child-development-and-learning-difficulties-lab/educational-technologies-and-apps/mathshome).
We would like to thank all the parents who completed the web-based survey.
 Formal activities are the activities used by parents with the specific purpose of developing literacy or mathematical skills. Informal activities consist of real-world tasks during which parents’ teaching happens without an explicit purpose and the learning is likely to be incidental, such supporting maths learning through playing board games that involve numbers.