What is family literacy?
Family literacy refers to the way parents, children, and extended family member use literacy at
home and in the community. Family literacy occurs naturally during the routines of daily living
and helps children and adults get things done.
How does family literacy affect children’s literacy and learning?
Families spontaneously engage in meaningful and purposeful literacy, regardless of
socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic differences.
When parents are more involved and more engaged, children tend to do better academically
Research provides strong evidence for the contribution parent-child interaction makes to
children’s literacy and language development.
Mother’s reading skills are strongly associated with children’s reading and mathematics
The child spends 900 hours a year in school and 7,800 hours outside school. Which teacher has
the bigger influence? Where is more time available for change?
The benefits of shared book reading “are well documented and clearly demonstrate that shared
storybook reading plays an important role in the development of language skills in both
preschoolers and school-aged children. In particular, shared book reading enhances language
comprehension, vocabulary development, and certain elements of phonological awareness.”
In Canada, children whose parents often engaged in a literacy-related activity with them before
they started school did better on reading achievement tests.
Regardless of socio-economic background, children whose parents read books to them in their
early school years had better reading test scores at age 15. The parent-child activities that
seemed to make the largest difference were reading a book, talking about things done during
the day, and telling stories.
How do children benefit from family literacy programs?
A growing body of research evaluations point to the success of programs that teach parenting
skills, including the establishment of home literacy habits, to promote their children’s literacy
Family literacy programs have a significant impact on children’s cognitive skills, including
language, literacy, and numeracy.
Family literacy programs can positively affect children’s motivation, their behaviour, and their
self-esteem and self-confidence.
Family engagement in children’s learning has an overall positive impact on their achievement in
Parent involvement in literacy instruction has a significant, positive impact on children’s reading
A family literacy program for immigrant families that honours both home language and English
can enhance young children’s literacy development in preparation for school entry.
Positive changes are observed in participating children’s achievement, school-appropriate
behaviour and school attendance.
How do parents benefit from family literacy programs?
For many adult learners, family literacy programs offer a rare opportunity: space and time to
forge new identities, to develop or recover literate and academic abilities, and to pursue dreams
for themselves and their families.
Benefits of family literacy programs to parents can include:
- Parents learn to support their children’s learning;
- They place greater value on education and learning and gain a better understanding of
- They become more interested in developing their own literacy skills
- They form social and supportive networks
- They have opportunities to progress to further education and training.
Parents in a bilingual family literacy program can benefit from an increased understanding of
young children’s early learning and different ways to support that learning.
Parents in family literacy programs can become more comfortable at school, understand school
expectations better, and be better able to support their children’s learning at home.
Research suggests that family literacy programs help parents gain literacy knowledge and skills
that they incorporate in daily interactions with their children.
Through family literacy program participation, parents learn skills that help them develop more
effective parenting strategies.
Click on attachment for an example monthly calendar to increase family literacy in your home.