NALA’s policy work in family literacy

Family literacy is about the way families use and develop literacy and numeracy skills together in the home. For example, reading a book at bedtime, singing, playing word games, writing a birthday card, using a calendar, baking, talking about your day.

Family literacy also includes education programmes that help to develop literacy and numeracy learning in a family context. Around Ireland there are many and varied family literacy activities that are reaching parents in DEIS schools, community locations and adult learning centres.

Why we need literacy development in families?

Family literacy is needed because there are still substantial literacy inequalities both amongst adults and children in Ireland (CSO, 2013; ERC, 2015). Research has shown that when parents are involved in their child’s learning, it positively affects the child’s performance at school. It impacts on early years literacy and educational outcomes into the teenage and even adult years. 

Family literacy programmes improve the literacy and numeracy practices of parents and other family members. They have a significant knock on effect on the school performance of children. Family literacy provides a win-win scenario to policy makers and practitioners, particularly those involved in education in disadvantaged communities.

What have we achieved so far?

We have achieved:

  • Helping parents support their children’s literacy and numeracy development through 200,000 people using our website and 1,800 people receiving our monthly helpmykidlearn e-zine
  • Research into the benefits of family literacy 
  • Developing guidelines and materials on family literacy 

What do we need now?

What do we need now?

NALA advocates that family literacy is developed within the contexts of all adult education and community services as well as the national literacy strategy for children and young people and the First Five strategy. This would enable schools, community and adult education providers to work with parents to combat educational disadvantage for children and adults.

NALA recommends the following: 

  • An interdepartmental government group that is concerned with family literacy objectives should steer the development of national family literacy policy.
  • Family literacy coordination and delivery should be adequately resourced with a ringfenced budget and data collected as a separate category from other literacy provision. This will provide evidence to inform future planning.
  • ETB strategic planning should ensure that family literacy is equally available to interested parents and schools across the catchment area.
  • To facilitate a more systematic approach to family literacy, core collaborative family literacy partnerships should be built that allow FET, Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS), public libraries and Children and Young People’s Services Committees (CYPSCs) to develop provision that harnesses all their skills, resources and contacts with parents who will most benefit from family literacy.
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