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Normal lessons for the whole family

TESTING the message: "families are the first teachers", children, parents and grandparents will be discoveringthe relative benefits of learning together this weekend.

The first Family Learning Weekend, organised by the Campaign for Learning, features about 1,000 events, ranging from a lyrics trail around Liverpool's musical landmarks to Tudor cookery in Sussex and a local history extravaganza in Bristol.

The occasion, supported by the Department for Education and Employment, Microsoft, the Discovery Channel and The TES, aims to create an appetite for learning among all age groups, and follows last year's successful Family Learning Day.

It begins with today's nationwide Take Your Family to School Day. While many schools and colleges will be opening their doors to relatives over the weekend, museums, galleries, libraries and shopping centres are also organising educational and entertaining events.

Bill Lucas, chief executive of the Campaign for Learning, said that, although the emphasis was on making learning fun, the serious point behind the weekend's events was that families have an important part to play in raising children's educational achievements and realising the learning society.

According to the Campaign for Learning, families are the first and most natural teachers, playing a crucial part in our early development - especially during the first 10 years of life when children learn fastest yet spend only 15 per cent of their time at school.

"If we are going to meet the lifelong learning agenda then we have to make learning more normal - that's the message of the Family Learning Weekend," Bill Lucas said.

"We don't value enough the informal learning that we do. Going on a walk and chatting about a building or wondering how long it has been there, watching something on television or reading something in the newspaper and talking about it - a lot of it is in conversational activity.

"We need kids supporting parents, parents supporting kids and kids working with their grandparents. There are a lot of things that families can do together - learning connects with our own personal development and happiness and makes for much more functional and happy families," he said.

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