The Improving School Readiness for Head Start Act of 2007 (Sec.637(4)(A)(B)(C)&(D) [42 U.S.C 9801]) defines the term “family literacy services” as:
… services that are of sufficient intensity in terms of hours, and of sufficient duration, to make sustainable changes in a family, and that integrate all of the following activities:
(A) Interactive literacy activities between parents and their children
(B) Training for parents regarding how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children
(C) Parent literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency and financial literacy
(D) An age-appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences
The Handbook of Family Literacy says the four interdependent components: children’s education, adult education, interactive literacy for parents and children, and parenting education, comprise an intentional system of educational influence and intervention. In comprehensive family literacy services, these components are not viewed as separate occurrences. Each component is systematically designed to be an essential element of the greater whole which addresses and facilitates goals for families more broadly than any one component.
This comprehensive approach intentionally engages parents and children in an array of education experiences—separately and together—to strengthen the learning bond and foster lifelong learning within the family.
One level of integration in family literacy services is cross-agency collaboration allowing programs to strategically combine the services they offer:
Another level of integration is intentionally combining family literacy services to promote educational experiences for parents and children, in order to bring about greater, more sustained outcomes:
- At a community college, Head Start parents receive extra credit for spending time in their children’s classrooms (adult education and children’s education).
- Head Start staff members build relationships with staff who teach ESL, GED, community college courses that are attended by Head Start parents and help the instructors understand how Head Start can support the work of the Head Start parents who are attending the classes (adult education and children’s education).
- Head Start parents attend a financial literacy class; as a result the parents are encouraged to open an account at the local banking institution. The child accompanies the parents to the banking institution and as they go through the process of opening the account the parents encourage conversation about what is happening (parenting education and interactive literacy for parents and children).
Interactive literacy activities between parents and their children
Training for parents regarding how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children.
Parent literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency and financial literacy
An age-appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences