Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Key to Learning® unique?
The Key to Learning® program is unique because it moves the focus from educational content (what) to the cultural tools and pedagogical practice (how). It focuses not only on teaching children skills and knowledge but on developing learning abilities too. It offers optimal learning experiences that are:
- precisely matched to children’s learning and development
- challenging but attainable
- emotionally vibrant, playful and enjoyable
- shared by children and responsive adults
It provides all the pre-requisites for successful learning, creating the right conditions for minds to open, for learning to become a pleasure and for creativity to flourish.
Why 'learning abilities'?
Learning abilities are whatever it is that determines the speed and flexibility with which we acquire, and are able to apply, new knowledge and skills – the qualities that provide successful learning.
The current focus for teaching preschoolers is skills and knowledge. However, the skills and knowledge that children need for survival depend on where they happen to be born, and vary from place to place. Therefore they are not enough. To prepare children to become brilliant, global citizens of our rapidly changing world, they need general learning abilities that enable them to learn quickly and easily whatever they have a need for. Because of the way our brains develop, there is a window of opportunity between the ages of 3 and 6 to give children that gift for life.
We have a 4-minute-read blog post on this and a full explanation of what these learning abilities are. You can access it here.
What changes can I expect to see in my child?
We have story after story of parents, teachers and other educational professionals who tell us about the differences that they have seen in children who are participating in the Key to Learning at Home activities. These include exceptionally high levels of or abilities in the following:
Critical thinking skills
Articulation of ideas
Passion for learning
Seeing things from another’s point of view…
The list just goes on and on! 😉
How does it all work?
You can choose from a monthly subscription to the full program, or buy the modules of the program separately as ‘activity packs’. Which you should choose depends on your circumstances – full details of our recommendations are explained here.
The teaching notes and printable resources are provided from within our Members’ Area online.
You can sign up for any of our free trials to see how it all works inside the Members’ Area.
Does the program use worksheets or involve any screentime?
No, these are hands-on activities that you do together with your child. You might want to show some of the supporting images to your child on screen, instead of printing them, and there are a few activities that involve a sheet that the child draws on or makes markings on, but that’s it.
At what age can you start with the activities?
The full program is designed to be done with children between the ages of 3 and 6, and is divided into two levels: Caterpillars and Butterflies. The ideal starting age for Caterpillars is approximately 3 years old, and for Butterflies approximately 4.5 years old – for a child who has completed the Caterpillars level.
There are three subscription options available, ideal for homeschoolers and stay-at-home parents, and each of the 12 modules of the program is also available to buy separately. The latter is ideal for parents who want to supplement their child’s education an development through play and games at home but wouldn’t be able to comitt he time to the full program.
Please see all the options with recommended age ranges here.
The ages given are approximate and for guidance only. Which option you should sign up to will depend on the exact age of your child and their current developmental level – we can give you individual advice on which to choose if necessary. Wherever possible, to get the full cognitive, communicative and self-regulative development, children should go through as much of the full program as possible, so the earlier your child starts after the age of 3, the better.
Is this child-centred learning?
The Key to Learning approach recognises three types of learning and teaching process:
During the activities, the facilitating adult leads short bursts of structured activity. Sometimes they share their expertise with the child, modelling and mediating the use of mental tools through developmentally appropriate and engaging activity. At other times, the adult and child collaborate to create something together, through joint activity. Finally, the expectation is that the child will continue to do what they already do, spending much of their time engaged in spontaneous free choice play, under the watchful eye of the facilitating adult.
Whilst it’s important for children to have plenty of time each day for play of their own free choice, it’s critical for their intellectual development to remember that children do not just happen to reinvent the knowledge of centuries (Edwards and Mercer). Culture is not discovered; it is passed on or forgotten (Jerome Bruner). So an active, facilitating adult is an essential part of the equation for children’s overall development.
Does my child need to be able to read or write to do any of the sessions?
Not at all!
Are the activities suitable to do with more than one child at once?
Absolutely! If you have children reasonably close in age, for example, you can and should do it with both at once. The social aspect and development of their communicative abilities will be enhanced even further from doing the activities with more than one child. There are some notes in our Success Guide in the Members’ Area to help you know how to use the sessions with 2 or 3 children so that each gets the most out of it.
Is it a religion-based program or secular?
Does the program include phonics?
No, it covers pre-reading skills. Learning to read is a process that starts with the ability to ‘decode’ letters as signs. The Key to Learning activities help children develop symbolic thinking, decoding and coding abilities so that they can ‘read’ information represented in signs, letters, numbers, drawings, pictures and symbols of all types. The sessions focus on getting children’s minds ready to learn how to read and write, not teaching them to actually read and write.
So, if you are homeschooling and want to specifically teach phonics at this age, you’ll need to use another program/method in addition to Key to Learning. However, we recommend not starting specific reading/phonics work until your child has done at least the first 12 months of the Key to Learning program and/or your child is asking for it. By waiting, you’ll need to spend less time teaching phonics and reading than if you had started earlier before your child had the learning foundation from doing the Key to Learning sessions in place. With regard to choosing a reading/phonics program, there are many different methods available so we recommend that you find one that suits your child’s style of learning. If you wish for your child to enter mainstream education later on, you should also choose one that fits with the objectives/standards in your country’s national curriculum for reading, as each country is different.
ABOUT THE ACTIVITIES AND RESOURCES
What do the materials look like?
How much preparation is required?
Each session takes between 5 and 10 minutes to prepare, including reading the notes, highlighting points for yourself or whatever will make it easy for you personally to follow the session when you’re doing it with your child, as well as cutting up or collecting together any resources you need.
We provide as much as possible for you, to keep your preparation time to a minimum. However, the animals or characters chosen in the print-outs for the games and activities in each session can easily be substituted, if you wish, without losing the focus of the session, but you would have to spend more time preparing resources of your own. For example, to ensure your child’s interest and motivation to participate in the activity, you may decide to substitute the pictures of rabbits in a math game with pictures of robots.
Do I need any special resources to do the sessions?
There are 3 types of resources needed. Printable resources, which we provide, other materials/toys/objects that you would most likely have in your home anyway or can buy easily and cheaply, for example, soft toys, animal figures, paints, string, bowls, coloured paper, and so on, and the Physical Product Pack that you will need to order if you want to do the Construction and Creative Modelling modules (specialist blocks and pre-cut felt pieces, as well as a few other related materials). Those modules cannot be done without these specific resources – they were made to our specifications as there was nothing available on the market already that could be used to achieve the learning aims in these modules. Also, you’ll need access to a colour printer for the printable resources.
How do I buy the Physical Product Pack?
Once you have signed up to the Key to Learning program, we send you the link where you can buy the Physical Product Pack from if you decide you want to do the Construction and Creative Modelling modules.
Do you ship the Physical Product Packs to my country?
Yes, we ship the packs to anywhere in the world.
ABOUT OUR SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS
How long does it take to do the full program?
The ful program is the Caterpillars and Butterflies subscripton option. If you don’t need to pause at all, it will take 2 years and 6 months. You can take up to about 3 years, as long as your child started at the right age (3-3.5). After the age of about 6-6.5, some of the sessions from some modules would still be valuable and enjoyable for your child but not all. For other modules, there is a more limited window of time in which to do them in order to get the results. Please email us for advice if you are unsure where you should start from because of the age of your child.
Can I pause my subscription to the program, or stop it completely, whenever I need to?
Yes, of course! We know that life just happens and sometimes you can’t stick to your plans. If you find you’ve fallen too far behind, just pause your subscription from your account page. And when you’ve caught up and are ready to continue, you can resume your subscription. Similarly, if you need to cancel completely for whatever reason, just click on ‘cancel’ and you won’t be charged again. All the information you need to know about this is provided on your account page in the Members’ Area.
Is 20 minutes a day really enough?
Being a participant in the Key to Learning program has been proven over and over again to change a child’s learning path and give them superior levels of mental abilities. It’s normal to wonder how such a short time each day can achieve something so great but when the sessions are done effectively, it does – it works! This is the average time it takes to do everything in one session under normal circumstances with one child – some sessions may take slightly longer if you have more than one child participating.
Some sessions can be completed in as little as 5-10 minutes, while some other sessions will take about 20-25 minutes. In many sessions, additional ideas for you to extend the activity or add more play opportunities for your child are given – you/they can spend as little or as long as you want on these.
How are the online materials and payments organised?
We have broken the program down into monthly blocks of content to ensure ease of use and to avoid overwhelm. You will receive immediate access to our Members’ Area where you can download the teaching notes for each session and the corresponding printable resources, on a monthly basis. The subscription payment plan is fully explained in the terms for each subscription option here. You have the flexibility to pause your payments and access, or cancel completely, whenever you need to.
How many children can I use it with?
The Key to Learning at Home materials have been designed for use with 1-3 children. Buying the Key to Learning @Home program as a subscription or as separate modules grants you a license from us to use our content with up to 3 children in your own home. You will need to buy the appropriate Physical Product Pack for the exact number of children. Please read the full details in Section 13 of our Member Agremeent here.
If you want to use the content of the program with more than 3 children, please send us an email.
Can I share my subscription with a friend?
No, you can’t. We offer the program at a very affordable price (whilst bringing tremendous value), to make it accessible for everyone who wants it, and as such we do not allow sharing. Each person who wants to use the sessions must take out their own monthly subscription or buy the modules that they want.
We track all log-ins and activity, and anyone who doesn’t abide by these rules and the rest of the Member Agreement will have their subscription terminated. This is to protect and respect the remarkable work of all those involved in creating a program of such high value. You can read the full Member Agreement here.
Can I get access again at a later date for my other child(ren) without paying again?
Yes, of course – you have unlimited access to what you have bought. There are no time limits.
What is your refund and return policy?
We offer free trials of all of our online products and as such, we don’t offer refunds or returns.
If you have a subscription to our program, you can pause your payments whenever you want (and therefore your access), or cancel completely at any time and not be charged again.
With regard to the Physical Product Pack, we recommend that you wait until you are sure the program is right for you and your child before ordering it. Due to the nature of the resources included in the Physical Product Packs, the many small and specific pieces that they are comprised of, and their weights, there are no refunds or returns available.
You can read our full terms and conditions here.
ABOUT OUR ADVICE
Will the activities in the program work for my child?
Like most things in life, what you put in will determine what you get out! We have story after story of ‘giftedness’ and ‘high learning potential’ as a result of participating in the Key to Learning program but it depends on the facilitator too, of course! You need to let yourself have fun with your child. We’ll help you with that but you need to appreciate how essential that ingredient is. You need to take the time to read the session instructions carefully and use the materials in the way they were designed for. We will give you all the support you need, but you are ultimately responsible for the results that you get.
What should I tell my child before starting?
Simply that you have some great games and activities you are sure they will love, that you want to play/do with them. Some parents introduce the activity as they would any other as part of their homeschooling/activity timetable each day. Others just have everything for a session ready and left out, and the child is drawn to it. When they ask what it is and why it’s there, the parent immediately tells the story or starts ‘playing’ according to the session notes to engage their child and carry out the planned session. Other parents just do a session or activity with their child as and when they can. You will find the way that works best for you, your child and your circumstances!
Even though you will be doing this program with your child to secure their learning abilities – to maximise and secure their cognitive, communicative and self-regulative development – remember that these are play-, game- and story-based activities, so all your child will think is that they are having fun playing with you. They don’t need to know that learning is going on and no-one should feel any pressure at all.
I'm homeschooling so what do you recommend I do with my child for the rest of the time/day?
This really is up to you, although we have a few strong recommendations! The Key to Learning program develops the learning abilities in children that are the prerequisites for success in their academic lives later on, and for creative and intellectual achievement. You don’t need to push academics now at this early age, and actually shouldn’t. We suggest you use the rest of the time with your child to explore topics of importance to them and others in your family/culture, for outdoor play and exercise, for reading to them, cooking, doing art work, exploring nature, music and singing, and so on. Anything that gives them rich experiences – talk to them about everything and let them delight in discovering the world around them.
Do you have any other advice about schooling my child?
Yes, lots! Whether you homeschool or send your child to school, we recommend you ditch the worksheets and written activity books and focus on learning through play, talking, reading and exploration of the world, first-hand wherever possible. Follow your child’s lead too in terms of what they enjoy. These years are too precious to spend doing anything else and the research speaks for itself. As we said above, let them delight in the world around them.
The Key to Learning at home program activities amplify the world that children naturally inhabit, to make sure that they explore every corner of it in as much depth as possible. Be their guide and enjoy getting into their world, at their level. Make whatever you can into a game. Share fascinating or interesting anecdotes with them. Model interest in everything the world has to offer. These are the most effective things you can do to raise your child’s level of curiosity about the world around them and love of learning in general.
Playing with my child doesn't come easily to me...
We believe anyone can learn to be their child’s best ‘teacher’ (guide/facilitator) and to enjoy playing with their child. You will receive lots of tips and advice in the introductory documents. These include ways of making the sessions as much fun as possible and really engaging your child. If you have the desire to have fun with your child, you will. As soon as you start doing the sessions, you will begin to see more and more ways of being creative, role-playing with props and what motivates your child. All the parents who have used Key to Learning at Home so far say that the connection the sessions foster between the parent and the child is incredible. So, if you really want your child to get the benefits from Key to Learning, trust that you can develop what it takes and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. We’ll be here!
I've seen some great ideas on the internet for free - why does my child need this?
There are hundreds of websites out there, some of which offer beautiful and varied activities for this age group, often for free. But NONE of them offer the opportunity to specifically and consistently develop all the learning abilities that your child needs to develop before the age of 6, to secure their intellectual and creative success at later academic stages and in life in general. Many elements of the Key to Learning program are completely unique and you won’t find them anywhere else, for free or otherwise.
Every session was designed by a team of educational experts and exceptional thinkers, based on Vygotsky’s work and many further years of research, to achieve a specific ‘learning ability’ and/or ‘developmental’ objective. Each session or activity is designed to build those abilities ste-by-step, which is why you should follow the sessions in the right order within a module, and if possible do the full program with your child, in order to secure the best results.