Family Literacy Services

Family literacy positions the parent as the most important contributor to their child’s success. Teaching teams and program staff who work with families may find this information useful to explore and connect various  elements of family literacy, classroom activities, and family support strategies. Note: This resource is under review.

 

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).

Family at a grocery storyInteractive literacy activities between parents and their children

  • Early Head Start Mirroring the Early Parent Child Bond for Infants and Toddlers
  • Family Activities with Children
  • Fun and Learning for Parents and Children: An Activities Handbook
  • Observing Family Learning
  • Parents Are First Teachers
  • Reading Tips for Parents
  • Supporting Family Learning Goals
  • Diversión y educación para padres e hijos: Libro de actividades
  • Building Blocks for A Healthy Future: Children
  • Building Blocks for A Healthy Future: Family

Group meetingTraining for parents regarding how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children.

  • 45 CFR 1304.40(e)(1)(2)(3)(5) Parent Involvement in Child Development and Education
  • A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family and Community Connections on Student Achievement
  • Family Involvement in Children's Education
  • Parent Involvement
  • Readiness: School, Family and Community Connections
  • Reading Tips for Parents

Piggy bank and calculatorParent literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency and financial literacy

  • Asset Building/Financial Literacy
  • 45 CFR 1304.40(e)(4)(ii)Adult Learners
  • Critical Literacy for Adult Literacy in Language Learners
  • Equipped for the Future Content Standards
  • Equipped for the Future Content Standards Wheel
  • From the Margins to the Mainstream
  • Money Smart: An Adult Education Curriculum
  • Money Smart: An Adult Education Program
  • Money Smart: Un programa de educación para adultos

Child at a table playingAn age-appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences

  • 45 CFR 1304.21 Education And Early Childhood Development; 1304.24 Child Mental Health; and 1304.40 Family Partnerships
  • A Family Note on Finding the Math
  • Does Head Start Strengthen Families as the Primary Nurturers of Their Children?
  • English Language Learners Focus Group Report
  • Head Start FACES 2000: A Whole-Child Perspective on Program Performance
  • Promoting Family Literacy Through Head Start
  • Services to Families with Limited English Proficiency
  • The Head Start Leaders Guide to Positive Child Outcomes
  • Guía de los resultados positivos del niño para los que dirigen Head Start

Family Literacy Definition. Improving School Readiness for Head Start Act of 2007. U.S. Congress. 42 USC 9801 et seq. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2007. English.

Last Reviewed: October 2016

Last Updated: October 28, 2016