Mhairi Ritchie’s Play Project

Using Social Media to put play at the heart of family learning.

Mhairi Ritchie
Working Party Member
Development Officer

Social Media

We value our relationships with our families and would love to strengthen the partnership between home and school especially given the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in. Firstly, we would like to engage and educate parents and families by sharing the ‘why’ of play. We will share information about the play-based pedagogy through an information booklet and through our Twitter feeds. It is important to us that we have an open dialogue with parents and we welcome questions about the value of play.

We would also like to provide play ideas that our children may enjoy at home and encourage parents to share photos of their children engaged in play outwith school. Sharing home experiences helps us to get to know the children better.

We are also keen to support our families to feel more confident about consolidating new learning at home. Short instructional videos have proved to be a hit with parents and children so we will plan to make clips of the way we teach phonics (sounds) in school. Hopefully this will encourage our children to talk about their learning and support families in practising the sounds at home.  We will also make termly montages of learning in P1 to provide an insight into our play experiences especially as there are currently no opportunities for parents and families to visit.

What format will your communication take?

We will communicate using an information booklet, regular Twitter feeds and videos on our YouTube channel which can be accessed using QR codes provided.  There will be videos to support the consolidation of the weekly phonics learning and termly videos which give an insight into the life of a P1.

What content will your communication have?

  • The information booklet provides information about the play-based pedagogy: the ‘what’ in terms of knowledge and understanding and skills developed by the approach and ‘how’ we develop this in practice.
  • Regular Twitter feeds provide updates on the weekly learning and share ‘wow’ moments with our school community
  • The phonics videos will include correct pronunciation and guidance on correct letter formation using rhymes
An example of how we are using Twitter
to inform parents of the day’s events.

Project Progress

The information booklet was distributed ahead of parent consultations at the start of November to provide information, answer queries and stimulate discussion. Our ‘day in the life of a P1’ video was made to give an insight into our learning environment.

Next Steps

The project’s next steps are to:

  • produce phonics clips with help from the P1 team,
  • collate photos and videos from this term and create a montage to share with parents,
  • encourage families to share their news and home learning with us,
  • listen and respond to feedback from our parents.

Covid-19 Caveat

My project aims to strengthen the partnerships between school and home. We want our children to talk about their learning at home and for our parents to be confident in their role as co-educators. 

In some respects, the situation we find ourselves in with Covid-19 has helped the project!  Parents used Twitter to access home learning tasks and our P1 and P2 YouTube channel was an easy way for staff to share videos. 

In other ways, of course, the restrictions have been a barrier to our home/school links.   Informal conversations at drop off and pick up times can often be helpful to gain an insight into parental views.  Being able to chat about the value of play, sharing anecdotes about the goings on in the class and gathering ideas about ways to support parents have not been possible in the school grounds.

We have also not been able to produce a video this term of our classes’ adventures as the majority of the term children were at home.


Project Progress

Class teachers have continued to update Twitter feeds to provide updates on the day’s learning.  We are mindful of highlighting and valuing the skills learned through self-initiated play e.g. language development, cooperation, resilience as well as through more adult-directed tasks e.g. letter formation.

I made an ‘introduction to phonics’ video and a wonderful colleague helped me to make short clips for each initial sound to support parents with practising at home. Each video demonstrates the correct pronunciation and guidance on correct letter formation using the rhymes we use at school.

During the period of home learning my enthusiastic  staff team added videos to the channel that included story time, ideas for maths games, songs sang in class and further reading and writing activities.  The videos served to provide tasks for our children but they also gave parents an insight into the sorts of activities that help to take learning forward. We currently have 11 subscribers to the channel and we know that other parents access videos directly from links we provide.

Here are a few example videos:

The introduction to phonics video (left) has 35 views. Individual phonics videos e.g. the video on the right, vary in number of views from 3 to 24. Members of staff reading stories for the children have been popular – The Gruffalo in Scots tops the charts with 69 views!

We continue to encourage families to share their news – home learning and other – with us via Twitter,  email and phone.  We listen and respond to feedback from our parents – throughout January and February class teachers spoke to each family on a weekly basis and continually sought feedback.

Illustrating the value of activities such as junk modelling where the process, which involves working together, is of more importance than the product!

Promoting the idea of following the children’s interests, having a go and celebrating concentrating!

“Parental engagement with children’s learning – parents taking an interest in their children’s learning, talking to them about what they are learning, showing that they as parents value schools and schooling – is what will help raise achievement.”

Janet goodall

Pupil Voice

“I liked the stories the best and seeing Mr D and Miles (class mascot).”

“I like ‘Maggies Magical Islands’ and designing my island with my granny.”

“I would like more number games.”


Family Feedback

General feedback from parents and recent survey results show that the videos have been useful for parents to support home learning; the phonics pronunciation/games and letter formation rhymes in particular.  Relationships are at the centre of our pedagogy so it was understandable that ‘children enjoy seeing their teachers’ was a key factor in the videos’ successes.

“My child really enjoyed watching her teacher do the maths activity.  It is the first time we have had success with home learning.”

Parent/Carer

“Watching the video of our little ones in their own wee Nativity was just what we needed at the end of a tough year.” 

Parent/Carer

“Making the videos with the children in mind and chatting to parents about their children’s engagement has supported learning but also strengthened relationships between staff and families.”

Staff Member

Next Steps

We value our relationships with Brunstane families and want to continue to strengthen partnerships.  We recognise the importance of parents’ engagement in their children’s learning.

To boost engagement I will remind parents of the different methods of communication we have i.e. Twitter, YouTube, seek information on any barriers to engagement and attempt to find solutions.  This may include more targeted support for some families.

From the feedback we have received some parents are keen for “more videos please as my child is happy to see her teacher”.  Some have also asked for “more activities”.  We will continue to add activities to the channel in addition to signposting parents to websites that offer ideas e.g. sharing the Ambition ‘Family Zone.’

We have provided guidance through the Play in P1 leaflet and support videos.  I wonder if it would help if parents knew how important a role they play as co-educators?  Increasing parental agency feels like the next step.  It would be great to get parents involved in sharing family experiences that we can share/extend in class, value play in the home as well as school and overall to foster positive attitudes towards learning which happens everywhere!

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