Tag archives: family literacy

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Family learning – sources of information, ideas and inspiration

De Bohun 10 - 3#

New research shows that pupils whose parents take little interest in their learning are far more likely to drop out of school than their peers – one further piece of evidence of the value of supporting family learning. I was a family literacy tutor for many years and saw first hand the massive impact a family learning approach can have not just on skills, but also on attitudes and well-being. The photo is of a session I was involved in. With several courses on family learning coming up (some of them open to all interested practitioners) I’ve been looking again at the benefits and at successful strategies for engaging parents, carers and the wider family. I have found these valuable sources of information and good practice:

Bookstart
Booktrust
Campaign for Learning
DfE Review of Best Practice in Parental Engagement
Discovering New Worlds: Linking Family Activities and Events to Further Learning
Early Literacy Practices at Home
Family Learning
Family Learning Works: The Inquiry into Family Learning in England and Wales
Family Maths Toolkit
Family Matters: The Importance of Family Support for Young People’s Reading
Getting Children to Love Reading
Kids and Family Reading Report
Kids in Museums
Learning and Work Institute
National Family Learning Network
National Literacy Trust
Quick Reads
Reading for Pleasure
Springboard Parent’s Little Guide to Helping Children Read
Talking Point
Teacher Network Top Tips for Engaging Parents in Learning
Top Marks Reading Tips
Top Tips for Engaging Dads
Words for Life

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Children’s and young people’s reading – a round-up of recent news and articles

dream jarsI loved the BFG dream jars that sprung up over London during the holidays, and it was great watching children and families swarming round them. A lovely celebration of Roald Dahl and of books and reading.

It’s not only a new school year, but also Read a Book Day, so definitely a good time to catch up on reading news and articles from the last couple of months.

Anyone with an interest in reading knows it has all sorts of advantages. Perhaps the most intriguing recent finding is that people who read books live longer lives.

The right way to bribe your kids to read – a deliberately provocative title – looks at the best ways for parents to support children’s reading. As the author says, extrinsic motivation doesn’t necessarily lead to an intrinsic desire to read. Lovely that taking children to the library, being a reading role model, talking to children about books and having lots of books at home are more effective than cash.

The merits of reading real books to your children explores the value of sharing books with children, particularly the benefits of paper books over digital ones.

Tough times out there? Here’s why reading with your kids is more important now than ever is useful and illuminating. Reading to children supports empathy and understanding as well as their overall development.

I liked this article on the importance of rare words for children’s learning and literacy, and why reading books helps.

The NUT reading for pleasure site has been revamped and has lots of practical tips and ideas.

Very good to see a focus on whole school literacy and on importance of school library in How to create a positive reading culture in your school from the TES.

Seven top tips for getting students reading by school librarian Joel Crowley is valuable too. Sharing your enthusiasm is quite rightly number one.

It’s worth reading the Learning Spy, aka David Didau’s new blog post 5 things every new (secondary) teacher should know about reading.

The problem with female protagonists is a very interesting article on the need for, and the insufficient numbers of, fictional female role-models for everyone.

New research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation includes disturbing data about young adults’ literacy. England is the only country in the OECD where the average literacy score for the youngest age group (16-18 years old) is lower than that of the oldest age group (55 to 65 years old).

A TES article by Joe Nutt about YA fiction caused a huge furore over the summer. Juno Dawson wrote a powerful rebuttal. There was a Today programme discussion between Joe Nutt and Francesca Simon (2 hours 18 minutes in). YA author Julie Mayhew has also written a valuable response to original article. And this is a powerful riposte from a 16 year-old student.

Finally, a warming story about Doorstep Library, which takes books and reading to disadvantaged children.

 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Family literacy – evidence on the benefits of family involvement in children’s reading

learning to readOver the years I have delivered many dozens of family literacy workshops. The photo is from one of them. I’m delighted to be giving a course on family literacy tomorrow. Here is some of the research evidence I will be drawing on.

The most accurate predictor of a pupil’s achievement is not parental income or social status but the extent to which parents are able to create a home environment that encourages learning.
source: National Literacy Trust

In the primary years parental involvement in a child’s learning has more impact on attainment than the school itself.
source: Campaign for Learning

Parental involvement in their child’s reading has been found to be the most important determinant of language and emergent literacy.
source: A Bus, M van Ijzendoorn and A Pellegrini, Joint Book Reading Makes for Success in Learning to Read

The earlier parents become involved in their children’s literacy practices, the more profound the results and the longer-lasting the effects.
source: R L Mullis etc, Early literacy outcomes and parent involvement

Parental involvement and engagement and parents’ reading frequency are major predictors of children’s reading frequency and enjoyment.
source: Kids and Family Reading

Parents who promote a view that reading is a valuable and worthwhile activity have children who are motivated to read for pleasure.
source: L Baker and D Scher, Beginning Readers’ Motivation for Reading in Relation to Parental Beliefs and Home Reading Experiences

Young people who get a lot of encouragement to read from their mother or father are more likely to perceive themselves as readers, to enjoy reading, to read frequently and to have positive attitudes towards reading compared to young people who do not get any encouragement to read from their mother or father. Children are twice as likely to read outside of class if they are encouraged to read by their mother or father a lot.
source: National Literacy Trust

15-year-olds whose parents have the lowest occupational status but who are highly engaged in reading obtain higher average reading scores than students whose parents have high or medium occupational status but who report to be poorly engaged in reading.
source: Reading for Change

Training parents to teach their children reading skills can be more than twice as effective as encouraging parents to listen to their children read.
source: Review of Best Practice in Parental Engagement: Practitioners Summary

All in all, a very compelling case for doing everything possible to engage parents, carers and the wider family in supporting their children’s reading.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Supporting children’s reading – ideas and tips for parents and carers

First Steps 6-09 021My last blog was on family literacy. This time I’m focusing on how parents and carers can make reading attractive. I love all the reading going on in this family reading workshop I gave.

It’s good to see bedtime reading is on the rise. There’s no better way to help children view reading as worthwhile and fun than reading to them. You don’t have to be a great reader: looking at the pictures together and making up stories spreads a love of books. If reading at bedtime doesn’t work for you, fit it in at a time that does – at bathtime perhaps, or on the bus. If your child demands the same book again and again, it’s a testament to your success. Please go on reading it! You can always read something else as well to save your sanity, or maybe someone else can do the honours sometimes. And do keep reading to your child when they can read, so they know reading and enjoyment go hand in hand.

You’ll find lots of useful tips on the Words for Life website and on this helpful infographic. I totally agree that children should see parents and carers reading for themselves, and I like the emphasis on discussing books, and on borrowing from the library. There are some great ideas here too. As the author stresses, children need to make their own choices of books. Everyone reads better when the book is one they enjoy. Joke books, puzzle books, the Minecraft Annual, the Guinness Book of Records, they are all stepping stones to wider reading.

Reading isn’t just about books of course. I found learning to read difficult. Comics shared with my mother were my pathway into the written word, so I’m a big fan of those, and of magazines. Looking things up in catalogues or the back pages of the paper, following recipes together, checking emails and texts all make reading an everyday experience, and help children feel they can do it.

When your child is reading to you, listen supportively. Give lots of praise and concentrate on what they get right, rather than mistakes. That way they get a sense of achievement. Don’t forget children learn to read in different ways and at different rates. Comparing progress doesn’t help anybody. How lucky for me that my parents didn’t worry that I was a late reader. They read to me, so I always knew books and reading were special, and that’s what mattered.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Family literacy

Foulds-School-22I have given workshops for parents, carers and families on supporting reading at home for over twenty years (this one was in a very deprived area of London), so family literacy is a subject very close to my heart. It is also incredibly important. All the research I have done for my courses on family literacy shows that family support for, involvement in and encouragement of reading has enormous impact on children’s attitudes to and attainment in literacy and wider learning. These are some of the reports and websites I have found useful in terms of data and good ideas for fostering family literacy:

I love hearing imaginative ways of supporting family reading. On a recent course a literacy coordinator in a school with little family involvement told us all about a great half-term challenge. Children and families did all sorts of everyday reading together like following recipes, reading maps, reading emails. They came back to school with wonderful portfolios full of pictures, videos and written work, and, more importantly, increased enthusiasm for reading. This week the Commons Education Select Committee heard from headteacher David Jones about the difficulty of engaging parents in reading initiatives, and how his school got round this. The clip is 19 minutes in. A different strategy used by a school where I gave a workshop was also very successful. They had a whole afternoon and evening of interesting reading-related activities, including demonstrations in every classroom. Their way of reaching the parents and carers they never normally see? All the demonstrators were their children!

Finally, if any proof is needed of the joy of family reading, here is a delightful video of a father and baby laughing together over a book.