Tag Archives: family engagement

Family Literacy

Grandmother and granddaughter reading and smilingNational Family Literacy Day, celebrated across the U.S., focuses on special activities and events that showcase the importance of family literacy programs. First held in 1994, the annual event is officially celebrated on November 1st, but many events are held throughout the month of November. Schools, libraries, and other literacy organizations participate through read-a-thons, celebrity appearances, book drives, and more. As both a parent and a teacher, I know it’s critical that we make the connection between home and school.

The following resources from NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org provide more ideas for fostering family literacy.

As children learn to write, parents and family members can support their progress in a variety of ways. The NCTE document “How to Help Your Child Become a Better Writer” details some useful tips, and is available in both English and Spanish.

Bursting with the energetic voices of young writers and their families, Family Message Journals: Teaching Writing through Family Involvement, follows the development of emergent and beginning writers as they explore the power and joy of written communication. View the lesson plans based on this book and written by the author, Julie Wollman.

NCTE’s Becoming Teammates: Teachers and Families as Literacy Partners offers a bold new look at how teachers and families can work together to build family-school relationships that value and respect each other’s perspectives on literacy. This book features the voices of parents, teachers, graduate students, and preservice teachers.

In Reading and Writing and Teens: A Parent’s Guide to Adolescent Literacy, author Cathy Fleischer, an English professor and mother of teenagers, explains what current research tells us about reading, writing, technology, and standards and testing – and gives specific suggestions for what parents and caregivers can do to help children succeed, both in school and outside the classroom.

The Family Writing Project: Creating Space for Sustaining Teacher Identity”, an article from English Journal shares a report on the study of family writing projects in an urban school district. Using the concept of “third space,” they describe the influence of this family literacy program on teacher practice.

The themed issue of English Leadership Quarterly Leadership Roles in Family Literacy Projects covers the topic of family literacy with articles such as “Fostering Literacy: Connecting Families with Schools” and “Building Home and School Literacy Partnerships: A Principal’s Perspective”.

Visit ReadWriteThink.org’s Parent & Afterschool Resources for an array of activities you can recommend to families and caregivers to make connections between literacy learning in and out of the school setting.

Families and Literacy Learning

Whether your summertime was leisurely, productive, or both, you’re probably joining the many children, families, and teachers making the mental and physical transition “back to school.”

As educators, one thing to be thinking about is how to keep families and caregivers in touch with students’ literacy learning throughout the school year.

Elementary Pupil Reading With Teacher In ClassroomWhat are the best ways to do this? It seems best to keep it simple. Better yet, our challenge is to show not tell as we involve families in the happenings within our schools on an ongoing basis.

Here are a few examples of educators who don’t need to tell families about the importance of the literacy learning taking place in their classrooms, because they are showing it:

  • Meet first-grade teacher, Jane Fung. She makes notebooking a regular part of her instructional practices. These notebooks will become a treasured part of each child’s school career long after first grade.
  • Julie Wollman, a ReadWriteThink.org and NCTE author, shows us how to get started with family message journals as a means for students to write to an authentic audience about their learning.
  • Because the ways we teach writing are often quite different from the ways most of our students’ parents learned to write, it is important to think about productive ways to get families involved as strong allies for excellent writing instruction. The authors of “Inviting Parents In: Expanding Our Community Base to Support Writing” describe workshops and other methods for getting parents productively involved in their children’s literacy development.
  • Watch as a parent who is in a Community of Practice with teachers shares what it means to learn, talk, and design activities as a full CoP member with teachers