Thursday, February 9, 2012

Family Literacy and Early Literacy: Victim of a Vicious Cycle

I was asked to present a program today to our local Kiwanis group about Family and Early Literacy since these are part of their key mission.  While I do not have a formal background in these areas, I often come across data related to these topics when doing professional reading.

Here is what I found:

The importance in my opinion is quite simple. Intergenerational illiteracy and poverty cannot be broken until the family as a whole begins to learn and realize the importance of education. Then, the family needs to use that knowledge to begin to become productive members of society. Too many programs focus on just the adult or just the child. The value of family literacy is the focus on the family as a whole.
-Kim Starr

Family Literacy
Definition: The ability to read and understand begins at home.
Early Literacy
Definition: Literacy Development begins at birth
Facts and Statistics
·         53 studies have shown that student achievement results increase from parent involvement in their education.
·         A major research review found that the learning environment at home accounts for more than half the variance in children’s IQ scores.
·         One study of over 38,000 children found a relationship between a literate home environment and reading achievement.
·         A child’s motivation to read increases with participation in family literacy.
·         Families become emotionally closer when having practiced family literacy, creating a more supportive home environment.
·         1983 report from the National Commission on Excellence in Education reported that the best predictor of a child’s success is the mother’s level of education.  This is still a factor, but a 2011 study states that the presence of books in the home is a better predictor. 
·         A 1992 study revealed that 44 million adults cannot read well enough to complete a job application or read a story to a child.
·         Low income and mother’s lack of education are risk factors in learning and development.
·         Reading scores improve dramatically when parents are involved with reading at home.
·         85% of all juveniles in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.
·         A 1999 study by the National Institute for Family Literacy found that 62% of parents with high socioeconomic status read to their children while only 36% of parents from low socioeconomic statuses do.
·         Low literacy is associated with school failure, teenage pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, and poverty.
·         Exposure to oral language affects literacy. – Highly important 0 to 9 months.
·         Children who read 5 minutes per day read at the 50th percentile while children who read 20 minutes a day read at the 90th percentile.
·         An average child in a welfare home hears 600 words per hour while a child in a professional home hears 4 times as many.
·         Having as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact of the future level of education for a child.  The more books the greater benefit.
·         One in six children who are not reading on grade level by 3rd grade do not graduate on time.  This is 4 times greater for proficient readers.
·         23% of children who are below basic readers drop out or do not graduate on time.  This is compared to 9% who have basic reading skills and 4% who are proficient readers.
·         A study of 3 to 5 year old who have been read to 3 times per week are two times more likely to recognize letters, two time more likely to have word/sight recognition, and two time more likely to understand words in context.
·         When reading to a child, point and describe the pictures.  When a child hits a page they are demonstrating a precursor to learning to turn the page.  All parts of shared reading (turning the pages, pointing at pictures, etc) is part of print awareness and print awareness is a pre-reading skill.

To compile this list, I used the below listed resources.


Ohio Literacy Resource Center: Facts and Statistics on Family Literacy

Association for Library Resources to Children: Born To Read Program

Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy

National Center for Family Literacy

New Jersey Education Association

Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations

Education World: Reference to an article by Dr. Mariah Evans
"Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success: Books and schooling in 27 nations
Published in: Research in Social Stratification and Mobility