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Education Worldwide

Family Literacy

Support the child’s reading skills and their cognitive, emotional and physical development. Empower the parents to help their children in those areas. Empower parents by enhancing their very own literacy and life skills. Value books and creating certain reading habits. These seem to be the broad fields family literacy initiatives try to target simultaneously or partially, quite a few with the help of peers and volunteers.

Do these kinds of interventions work? Jon Carpentieri and his co-researchers found in a report looking at European projects and meta-studies strong evidence for the effectiveness of such kind of programmes, in quantitative as well as qualitative terms. They stress that family literacy initiatives should be seen as a valuable and effective complement to existing institutionally-based and/or nationwide literacy programmes.

The key questions seem to be not whether family literacy works but rather what kind of projects might be the most suitable for a specific target population with different linguistic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and how successful programmes could be transferred to local contexts.

Following we highlight some initiatives and research.

"People Need to See the Program in Action to Understand its Potential"


Interview with Dr. Miriam Westheimer, director of HIPPY International

Dr. Miriam Westheimer has been working in the field of education and social services as a founding executive director, international director, board president, project manager and organizational/educational consultant.

She co-authored the best-selling international textbook and multi-media series Focus on Grammar, now in its third edition. Additionally, based on her experience teaching English in Israel, she helped conceive and create a global course to teach teen-agers and adults how to communicate effectively in English.

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Home Instruction for Parents and Pre-School Youngsters (HIPPY)

HIPPY International is a program that aims at making an easier transition from the home environment to school for pre-school children. It is aimed at parents of three, four and five-year olds and is meant to help them strengthen their children at various levels and to prepare them for life during and after school.

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My Daddy Reads To Me!

The project Mein Papa liest vor! (My daddy reads to me!) addresses working fathers of children aged from being a baby to twelve years. The project aims to allow the fathers to make a stronger appearance as reading role models, taking up on their responsibility as reading fathers. The initiators Stiftung Lesen thus react upon findings from contemporary studies on reading out aloud, where merely 8 percent of the interviewed children claimed their fathers read to them on a regular basis.

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Some more champions in London

Peer volunteers positively impact family literacy

An evaluation report published by the National Literacy Trust indicates that peer volunteers improve how parents support their children’s literacy and language development. As part of the project London Literacy Champions, nearly 500 community volunteers worked with over 1500 families from 20 London boroughs from June 2011 to July 2012.

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National Center for Family Literacy, USA

The ability to read is the key to success. Children learn this most of all within the familiar home environment. This is the foundation stone for educational and economic success. The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) works on the basis of this fact and supports the promotion of literacy and numeracy skills.

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The television is the No. 1 family medium in Germany

FIM study 2011 assessed communication and media use in families

Cover of the study

Results from the recent FIM study 2011, carried out by the Media Educational Research Alliance South-West (mpfs), were presented at the conference for “Media Today” on February 2nd, 2012. While the television, radio and the internet are the media that are most commonly used in families in Germany today, books are particularly important for the younger children: parents read to, or read together with, 82 percent of the children aged three to five years.

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The “Mother Child Education Program” in Turkey

Mother-child-education-programThe “Mother Child Education Program” by the AÇEV foundation targets families with children aged 5 or 6 years who do not attend preschool institutions. A holistic approach is pursued, taking all developmental perspectives into account (cognitive, emotional, social and physical development). The holistic [ ... ]

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The Mother-Child Home Education Programme in Bahrain

The Mother-Child Home Education Programme in Bahrain was established in 1998, in order to empower women to support their children to develop preschool skills, such as literacy. Taking a twofold approach, MOCEP offers materials and support to pre-school aged children on the one hand, to foster their cognitive and social skills, while training and counselling their mothers on the other hand, informing them how they can educate their children, and training them in becoming literate themselves.

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Comparative evaluation of the “Mother Child Education Program”

Interviews with 100 mothers regarding the project’s effects

Cover of the evaluation report

In 2009, 100 mothers from Bahrain, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Turkey who had earlier taken part in the “Mother Child Education Program“ run by the Turkish AÇEV Foundation were questioned in part-structured personal interviews regarding their assessment of the quality oft the project. The project targets families with children aged five and six years prior to their entering a pre-school or school institution.

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Family Literacy Project (FLP)

Family-Literacy-Project_in_South_AfricaThe Family Literacy Project’s aim is to make literacy a shared pleasure and valuable skill among families who have had very little formal education and who do not have the resources to buy books and other reading materials. The project work combines four thematic areas: Adult literacy, early learning and literacy, libraries and health.

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„Better Beginnings“ - Early reading intervention in West Australia

Better Beginnings is an early intervention family literacy program that has been developed by the State Library of Western Australia. Its stated purpose is to provide positive language and literacy influences for young children through supporting parents as their children`s first teacher. The program is based on a strong cooperation between health professionals, local governments and public libraries. A high degree of consultation and engagement with local communities is involved.

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Storysacks - reading promotion in the UK

Story sacks are a non-threatening way of encouraging parents and carers to start sharing stories with their children, especially those parents with little positive experience of books. A story sack is a large cloth bag containing a children`s book with supporting materials to stimulate reading activities. The sack contains soft toys of the book`s main characters, and props and scenery that parents and other adults can use with children to bring a book to life. The National Literacy Trust website provides [ ... ]  

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“Give me a story“ -Family Literacy Project in Switzerland

Logo-Family-LiteracyThe family literacy project by the Swiss Institute for Child and Youth Media aims to empower young children aged two to five years from migrant backgrounds by supporting their parents and motivating them to ttell stories in their native language. The families regularly meet reading animators, they tell stories, look at picture books, play rhyming [ ... ]  

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More Information

Facts and figures

Effect sizes of family literacy intervention studies, and gains expected from these effects
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Effect sizes of family literacy intervention studies, and gains expected from these effects

Family Literacy