Friday, April 8, 2011

Family literacy helps children achieve in school

The latest trend in educational excellence is parental engagement. Schools across the country are struggling with how to get parents to even come through the door, much less be truly involved. It is particularly difficult for adults who didn't have good experiences when they were students or those who are unfamiliar with the U.S. education system. MP900262911

But a model for true parental engagement does exist, and it's been evolving and innovating for 30 years — family literacy.

It is the most important step communities and schools can take to help parents leverage their important role into meaningful change and improvement. There are some who believe striving for parental involvement is too difficult and that parents are not interested in being involved in their children's education. This is far from the truth.

For 20 years, the National Center for Family Literacy and Toyota have worked together to create, duplicate and innovate model laboratories of learning in 50 cities across the country. Multiple generations come together to learn, and the benefit extends not just to the adult or child but is magnified to the entire family and community. Such is the case in Patterson, where an NCFL program was implemented in 2009 to help immigrant children and their families. The program, which got its start at Northmead, Grayson and Walnut Grove schools, has added a fourth site at Las Palmas School.

Over the past 20 years, this partnership has improved the education and economic attainment of more than 1 million U.S. families.

These families face some of the biggest hurdles to improving educational outcomes. Nearly 60 percent of the parents have less than a 10th-grade education. More than 90 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Yet the model we deploy is producing dramatic results.  Read more

By Sharon Darling
Darling is president and founder of the National Center for Family Literacy.

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