I recently read about a very interesting project in England that empowered parents to help their young children improve their literacy skills. The REAL (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy) Project is interesting in several ways.
- The focus of the project is teaching parents how to teach their own children. Seems like overall, this would be a pretty cost-effective way of improving early literacy.
- The parents are taught through workshops as well as home visits by the teacher. A lot of parents and children find this to be highly motivating.
- While, overall, the children showed positive results, the results dissipated over time. However, in families with a reported lower socio-economic status of the father or lower educational experience of the mother, the results were more positive and longer-lasting.
- Even though this project is intended for early literacy, I think the format could be used with learners of any age or development level.
What I find particularly appealing about this project was that it was very well received by the families. It's often difficult for schools or other education programs to find ways to connect with parents that are meaningful for both. This project seems to do just that.
Additionally, I like the approach that this program takes to teaching literacy. They use what they term the ORIM (Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction, Model) framework to focus on four specific elements of literacy; environmental print (street signs, product packages, etc.), books, early writing, and oral language. Opportunities are simply having print and oral language opportunities available for children. Recognition involves teaching (and modeling for) parents how to recognize literacy milestones in their children. Interactions are real opportunities for parents to share literacy tasks with their children, such as reading a story together or writing a note to a friend. Modeling for their children is nothing more than showing their children how they use literacy in their own lives; reading the newspaper, talking with a friend about a book they read, following written instructions to put together a bookshelf, etc.
The goal of the program was to reach 60 families; the program reached 6,000 families. Apparently they did something right.
For more information, you can find the REAL Project at: