Family literacy

Family learning describes:

  • The uses of literacy and numeracy within families and communities, especially activities which involve two or more generations;
  • Education programmes that help to develop literacy and numeracy learning in a family context.

Check out our website for parents


The website was developed by NALA as part of the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020 (Department of Education and Skills). NALA's role in the strategy is as follows:

  • Support a national public information campaign highlighting the role that all parents and communities can play in improving children’s literacy and numeracy; and
  • Target tailored information on supporting children’s literacy and numeracy to parents with literacy difficulties through adult and family literacy provision in Education and Training Boards.


Work with stakeholders:

NALA has worked with our stakeholders for the Help My Kid Learn website including the libraries, county childcare committees, the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), TUSLA - the Child and Family Support Agency, the Department of Education, the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN), the National Parents Council Primary (NPC) and others to ensure that the pre-school and primary school sectors hears about the website. Our stakeholders got involved in the following ways:
  • A Help My Kid Learn library day in 2013
  • Distribution of bookmarks and promotional material to all registered childminders, all creches and parent and toddler groups through the County Childcare Committees in 2013
  • Articles / fliers in teachers’ magazines and stands at events
  • website link (Department of Education and Skills)
  • Inputs at the Continuous Professional Development for Home Schools Community Liaison coordinators (HSCLs)
  • Department of Education circular to principals - latest one in April 2016. Following that we sent 140 schools promotional material (22 of those DEIS schools see below DEIS).


Current work with DEIS schools

As well as that, we have been working with TUSLA to connect with DEIS schools (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools). We carried out a survey in May 2015 of DEIS schools and found that the schools were promoting However it was informal rather than in a planned way. NALA wanted to make it easier for teachers to bring the website to parents. We created a one hour session that could be delivered by HSCLs to parents. This worked well. We were fortunate to receive sponsorship from Eirgrid for a pack that is being distributed to parents who take part in a one hour session in DEIS schools. This work is ongoing at the moment. Contact Margaret Murray at for more information.


Why are family learning programmes important?

Family learning 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.


Family Learning Conference on Wednesday 30 November 2016

Each year NALA organises a family learning conference with speakers and workshops. This usually takes place in November. Keep an eye on our upcoming events section on the homepage for more information or contact for more information.


What more would NALA like to see happen?

NALA policy work 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. This would enable schools, libraries, community and adult education providers to work with parents to combat educational disadvantage for children and adults.

NALA recommends that a dedicated and significant funding stream be established for family literacy work, and that this should be accessed on the basis of a partnership between families, communities and schools.


Resources on family learning:

  • Working together: approaches to family literacy (September 2004) - This resource provides an introduction to the concept of family literacy and guidelines for groups interested in family literacy work.
  • Booklet "At Home with Family Learning (2009)" which you can download.
  • Help My Kid Learn
  • Facebook page for Help My Kid Learn with 20,000 likes.
  • Television programmes "The Family Project" in 2013 and 2014.


Selected NALA research: