Building digital connections between young children’s home and school learning

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


Children’s learning does not begin and end with their formal school experiences. Parents are described as children’s first and most enduring educators; and through participation in family life children come to learn the rules of engagement of their family and community cultures, including practices of knowing and learning (Alexander, 1997; Rogoff, 2003). When children start attending school or nursery, they make a transition from the cultures and practices of their home environment to that of the educational setting. Where children are able to connect their learning experiences from home, school and elsewhere, they are likely to be able to draw on a greater range of resources and experiences to support their learning, however, when the practices of knowing and learning are very different in school, children’s rich and successful learning experiences at home may not facilitate those in school, and equally their experiences at school may not feed in to their learning at home (Lam & Pollard, 2006). Increasingly, children’s cultural participation at home includes their participation in the digital cultures of their families and communities (Marsh et al, 2005). Drawing on the research and development of a prototype idea for a mobile digital device, the ‘Dream Catcher,’ this paper explores the ways in which young children may use digital technologies to make connections between their learning at home and at school, and discusses the connections and discontinuities between children’s learning with digital technologies at home and at school. The ‘dream catcher’ aimed to support young children to take and share digital photographs as a way of sharing their experiences between home and school, facilitating the expression of children’s voices, and supporting meaningful and creative conversations between children and their parents and practitioners. Communication between children’s homes and schools has often taken the role of parent-practitioner conversation; this study sought to take account of the child’s active role in mediating and negotiating dialogue between these two contexts. Digital cameras and PDAs were used to explore the idea of the ‘Dream Catcher’ device in a reception class and children’s centre with children, their parents and practitioners. The ‘Dream Catcher’ idea supported children to record images and share stories and thoughts with parents and practitioners. Children used the devices to record objects, places, people and activities that interested them at home and in their early years and school settings. Parents reported they were able to learn more about what their children did during the day while practitioners said the photographs prompted rich conversations that allowed them to understand more about the children in their care and to better understand how they learn, and support children to reflect on their experiences. Digital technologies are used in very different ways at home and at school, with schools often unaware of children’s digital practices outside school. The paper also draws on research with young children exploring the connections and discontinuities between their digital practices in these two different contexts, and discusses how teachers might respond to and build upon children’s out-of-school digital practices.
Translated title of the contribution'Building digital connections between young children’s home and school learning'
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputer Assisted Learning Conference (CAL) 11, Manchester Metropolitan University
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2011

Bibliographical note

Conference Organiser: CAL


Dive into the research topics of 'Building digital connections between young children’s home and school learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this