4.4. Family learning
‘Family learning’ refers to any activity that involves both children and adult family members (with all working toward their own learning outcomes) and that contributes to a culture of learning in the family. Raising the educational level of parents is one successful approach to preventing early school leaving. When parents engage in educational activities for themselves, a series of cultural and educational interactions are promoted within the family.
Through family learning, parents build their self-efficacy, are empowered to become active agents at the school, and are more involved in their children’s schooling. Parents may also build their confidence to help their children in learning at home. At the same time, children have more opportunities to learn with their parents, which leads to increased engagement in school and better educational outcomes.
Research shows that involving families in literacy programmes is essential for increasing the literacy and numeracy levels of children and adults. Key findings from a European research project show that family literacy programmes are highly cost-effective, both in improving child literacy and in improving parental support skills. It is important that they are in line with and complement classroom literacy activities.
There should also be a range of complementary programmes targeting the needs of specific groups, including low-income families and ethnically diverse groups. These programmes should seek to improve child literacy and socio-emotional development, while also developing the parents' capacity to support their child's learning. Enhancing general parenting skills is also an essential part of family learning. Such programmes should therefore be provided as early as possible in a child's development. Funding, quality of the programme and partnerships between key individuals are considered key to the long-term success of family learning programmes.
Find out more:
Carpentieri, J., Fairfax-Cholmeley, K., Litster, J., Vorhaus, J., Family literacy in Europe: Using parental support initiatives to enhance early literacy development, NRDC, Institute of Education, London, 2011
EU High-Level Group of Experts on Literacy, Final Report, Brussels, 2012.
EUCIS-LLL, Policy debate on Intergenerational learning for inclusive societies, March 2015
NIACE, Family Learning Works: The Inquiry into Family Learning in England and Wales, 2013