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Last Updated
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Midwest LINCS: Family Literacy Space
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What is Family Literacy?

What is family literacy?
Family literacy is a term used to describe parents and children - or more broadly - adults and children - learning together. Also known as intergenerational literacy, and in some cases, community literacy, the rationale underlying such work is that parents (and adults in communities) are children's first teachers; that much learning occurs beyond traditional school settings, and that learning is a life long process.

Family literacy can describe the way parents, family and community members use literacy at home and in their communities. Literacy activity occurs naturally during the routines of daily living and helps adults and children get things done. The ethnic, racial, and cultural heritages of families are reflected in the literacy activities they in which they engage. Family literacy can apply to all families and all literacy activities that take place within the family, not just school like activities. Although family literacy traditionally takes place within the family, family literacy activities and programs can be initiated by organizations outside of families.

What is a family literacy program?
Family Literacy programs are driven by comprehensive, holistic approaches to education in which parents and children learn and grow together. Family Literacy programs address the literacy strengths and needs of the family/community while promoting adults' involvement in children's education, recognizing adults as a powerful influence on children's academic success. Family literacy programs also recognize the reciprocal nature of parent-child relationships. Programs provide both parent-initiated and child-initiated activities to support development of those relationships and to increase the motivation to learn for both parent and child.

Education opportunities of families are improved by integrating early childhood and adult education into unified programs.

Family literacy programs provide services that are of sufficient intensity in terms of hours, and of sufficient duration, to make sustainable changes in a family and that integrate all of the following activities:

  • Interactive literacy activities between parents and their children

  • Education for parents in facilitating children's learning and becoming full partners in their education

  • Parent literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency and meets adults' stated goals

  • Age-appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences
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