The ELOM-Home Learning Environment (HLE) tool is one of the suite of instruments developed by Innovation Edge to measure preschool children’s learning outcomes and their predictors.

It is a short questionnaire that is designed to capture key features of a preschool child’s home learning environment that are known to be associated with early language and numeracy abilities, and cognitive functioning. Items are drawn (with some modifications), from measures used internationally. These include the UNICEF Multi-Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS 6 Questionnaire for Children under 5) and a Home Learning Environment instrument developed by Melhuish (2010).  In addition to providing basic biographic information (e.g. their age and education level), caregivers are also asked to estimate the amount of time they have for activities with their child.

Psychometric analysis on 327 HLE interviews has been conducted. The HLE Technical Manual is available here. Three scores can be obtained from the HLE which can be used in research studies and evaluations of the contribution of the home learning environment to performance on a tool such as the ELOM:

  1. The Early Learning Resources Score: Total number of children’s books plus the availability of bought and homemade toys, household utensils, and other objects used for play (these items can be analysed separately).
  2. The Early Learning Activities Score: Items include: reading, telling stories, singing songs, going out together, playing, naming things, counting, and drawing or painting. Psychometric analysis has shown that these items can be combined to form a single scale that reliably measures early learning activities with children.
  3. Caregiver Time with the Child Score: a) in the week; b) during the weekend. Each is scored: less than an hour; about 2 hours; 3 hours or more).

The HLE Tool has been used in research conducted by the ELOM team. An example is the Early Learning Programme Outcomes Study. In that study the Early Learning Activities scale predicted children’s performance on the Cognition and Executive Functioning and Fine Motor Coordination and Visual Motor Integration domains of the ELOM.

The questionnaire should be administered to the child’s primary caregiver. This may be a parent or in other member residing in the household who is responsible for the day-to-day care of the child.

Users should thoroughly familiar with the content of the HLE Tool and how to score responses.  As administration and scoring is very straightforward, no training is required.

In sum, the ELOM-HLE is an easily administered brief instrument based on tools used internationally and which has been tested in South African low income populations. It can be used to assess the relationship between the preschool child’s home learning environment and their learning outcomes assessed on a tool such as the Early Learning Outcomes Measure.