ORIM stands for Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction and Modelling. These are four practical ways that parents and carers support their children’s learning and development.

Opportunities:  Parents and carers make the experiences of day-to-day life into learning opportunities through the ways that they interact with their children: listening, talking, singing, playing (indoors and outside), encouraging, and giving them time and attention. Parents also give children opportunities to explore and experiment with everyday objects, such as mark-making with a paintbrush and water or chalk on paving stones, or using an empty box to make a toy farm, dolls house, boat, space rocket...

Recognition:  When parents and carers show that they recognise and value their children’s efforts and achievements - and the children themselves, just for who they are – it contributes to children’s understanding and belief in themselves as learners. Recognition can be simple and low-key (e.g. a quiet word, smile, or high-five), or more obvious praise and encouragement, or putting their painting on the fridge or making up a story in which the child appears as a character. Parents and carers also recognise what counts as progress for their own child (e.g. being able to balance for longer on a log, or to join in with a familiar song).

Interaction:  Parents and carers support their children’s development by interacting with them in many ways, such as:

- listening and talking with them about what they are doing and or how they are feeling
- involving them in everyday tasks such as cooking or cleaning
- explaining or demonstrating how to do something
- offering reassurance or encouragement as a baby explores (without getting too involved)
- helping a toddler to manage their frustration
- watching television with their child and chatting about what they are seeing.

Modelling:  Babies and young children learn from watching and listening to those around them. The most powerful models for them are those that they spend the most time with and who they love the best – their parents and carers. Through these models, babies and young children absorb behaviours, attitudes towards learning and how to interact with others. They also learn more specific things, such as how literacy and maths are used as part of day-to-day life, such as writing a shopping list or paying for the shopping.

This ORIM framework was developed by Professors Peter Hannon and Cathy Nutbrown at the University of Sheffield. In their work with families, they noticed that all parents and carers support their children's learning by naturally providing Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction and a Model (ORIM for short). However, when we (as practitioners or parents) understand how ORIM helps learning, we're more likely to think about and do them more often in everyday life - which helps children's learning even more. And the big difference is NOT how well we ourselves got on at school - but what we do with our children: talking, playing, singing, sharing books and stories, and keeping ORIM in mind.

ORIM is threaded through Peep programmes - it helps practitioners to see and value what parents and carers are already doing to support children's learning.  As parents and practitioners share ideas, they improve the quality of the home learning environment, which research has shown to be so important for children’s later outcomes.

how orim helps families

The more that we as parents and carers know about how children learn and develop, the easier it becomes to:

  • understand how to make everyday events into learning opportunities 
  • recognise  what counts as progress for our own child, and understand how to scaffold their learning (support them with new things, while they learn to do it themselves)
  • recognise  and value all the little developmental steps on the way to the ‘big’ goals of learning such as talking, reading and writing
  • recognise  and celebrate our child just for being themselves
  • understand the different ways that we can helpfully interact  with our child
  • appreciate our role as a model  for our child/ren.

> Download our short topic handout: An Introduction to ORIM or our Urdu version: An Introduction to ORIM in Urdu (for screen) or An Introduction to ORIM in Urdu (to print).

To find out more about parents and children learning together in everyday life: ask about Peep sessions at your local children's/ family centre or early years setting, visit our facebook page or attend one of our practitioner training courses.

your chin my chin

Parent feedback in a Peep group, discussing the question: Has anything that we’ve done or talked about in this group made any difference to the ways that you encourage your child’s confidence?

‘I notice the little things they do and praise them more’
‘I allow her to experiment more – not worrying too much’
‘Being more positive and encouraging, giving him more opportunities and more recognition’
‘Encouraging my children when they have achieved something by themselves and seeing their excitement when they have achieved something’
‘Peep gives you the chance to talk and reflect on everything. It makes you take the time to talk and listen more when sometimes we feel very busy.’