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Parent's Involvment in their Children's Learning (PICL)

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A professional development project based approach to working more effectively with families


Parents’ Involvement in their Children’s Learning (PICL) is an evidenced based way of working with parents that improves outcomes for children and families. It has been developed at the Pen Green Centre for Children and their Families, in Corby, over the last 30 years.


The PICL professional development programme consists of three days training. During the first two days you will be working together to build a learning community with your fellow participants. Our experience tells us that it is important for adults to learn in a relaxed environment that enables them to:


-  be present 

-  engage with and learn from each other;

-  draw on and share their experience and prior learning

-  apply what they are learning to their own practice


Between the second day and the third day, about three months later, we will be asking you to complete some project work with your staff team and a child study with one family. This project work takes the form of an action research project, which we hope will involve your whole staff team. During the third day you will be asked to share experiences of this work and to action plan for further developments in working with parents. This will include ways of evaluating your work and demonstrating that through this way of working, you are making a difference to outcomes for children and parents.


2 days initial training

During these two days participants reflect on their own attitudes towards working with parents. They explore the frameworks of Involvement (Laevers, 1997),

Well-being (Laevers, 1997), Schemas (Athey, 2007) to analyse children’s learning and key pedagogic strategies (Pen Green 2015) to discuss effective pedagogical support using video reflection.


Project work in the setting

Most of the learning takes place when participants draw from their own experiences and share ideas with other workers in their team. They carry out an exercise about why working with parents is so important and conduct an audit of practice on how they currently work with parents


Child Study

Participants also complete a child study with a family, sharing video footage of their child while deeply involved in their play and reflecting on the child’s learning using the frameworks outlined above.


A third training day   

The third day builds on the project work that the participants have done in their own setting and is usually about three months after the first two days. The focus of the day is to reflect on their learning and to deepen their thinking about how they can develop their work with families. Participants report back on their experiences and help each other to challenge themselves about possible developments ranging from reviewing the way they relate to all the important adults in children’s lives and share observations and documentation about children’s learning to running groups with parents to look at children’s learning using video reflection.


The PICL professional development programme aims to:


  • Provide workers with an evidenced based way of working that will improve outcomes for children and families
  • Provide workers with the opportunity to explore their beliefs and values about working with parents with colleagues and across teams to develop a shared ethos
  • Provide individuals and staff teams with the opportunity to reflect on how they currently work with parents
  • Offer workers a way of developing a dialogue with parents as equals through sharing video of children and frameworks for analysing the children’s learning
  • Offer workers and parents a way of listening and acting on what each other does to support a child’s learning over time both in the home learning environment and the setting/group or contact visit.
  • Provide workers with a way of demonstrating that they are making a difference to outcomes for children and parents through this way of working.

The University of the Integrated Early Years Workforce. Supporting professionals to develop high quality practice and best outcomes for all children.