Family Literacy is about the ways families use literacy and language in their daily lives

It is about how families:

  • Learn

  • Use literacy to do every day tasks

  • Help children develop literacy skills

  • Use literacy to maintain relationships with each other and with the community

  • Interact with organizations and institutions

 AFLO (Action Family Literacy Ontario)

Family Literacy Programming

Family Literacy programming in Canada is diverse. Some programs provide separate programming for children and parents, as well as opportunities for parents to practice what they have learned while interacting with their child. Other programs are targeted towards parents and caregivers only.

Any of the following activities can be part of a family literacy program:

  • learning and sharing rhymes and songs

  • telling and writing family stories

  • making a book

  • teaching parents strategies for reading effectively with their children

  • having parents reflect on their own childhood and school experiences in learning to read and write

  • educating parents about their role in preparing their child for school

  • discussing parenting and child development topics (self-esteem, developmental stages, discipline etc.)

  • doing hands-on activities that teach parents about how children learn through dramatic play

  • discovering how to find learning opportunities in every day routines

 Workshop-format programs are generally held once a week. Theses programs can last for as little as four weeks or as long as sixteen weeks or more. In more intensive programs, participants attend several times a week over a period of months. Programs can include an adult upgrading component where parents have opportunities to earn high school credits, learn essential computer skills, or gain employment skills. In other programs, the development of adult literacy is more implicit than explicit.

 Despite great variety, all family literacy programs share a foundation of common assumptions.

 These include that:

  • the parent is a child’s first and most important teacher

  • between birth and age six, children learn essential skills that lay the foundation for later success in school and for life-long learning

  • children learn best in the context of warm and nurturing family relationships

  • parents want their children to succeed and are motivated to support their children’s learning

  • literacy is not just a set of school competencies, but a way of interacting within the family and the community

  • children’s literacy activities can include play, talk, rhymes and song, telling and reading stories, music and dancing, and drawing and scribbling

  • parents can provide learning opportunities for their children using free or low-cost materials in the course of everyday life at home and in the community

  • parents are learners too, and in learning to support their children, they maintain and develop their own literacy skills