Family Literacy Helps Parents Learn with Children

Having left school more than 15 years ago when she was in Grade 8, Bernadette Davis, from Bass River, Colchester Co., is now going to adult education classes in the same rural community as her two children.

Ms. Davis is part of the Side By Side family literacy pilot project, which is designed to help participants improve their literacy and parenting skills so they can help their children at home.

Ms. Davis will be speaking during Family Literacy Day celebrations hosted by the Department of Education in Bass River on Saturday, Jan. 28.

“My kids think it’s great that we all attend school in the same community and we get to travel to school together,” said Ms. Davis. “I never thought I would see myself making a public speech, but now I do believe that learning and education are the key to success.”

The Side By Side pilot, organized by the Colchester Adult Learning Association, offers workshops for parents, guardians and grandparents from the Bass River area. Workshops include positive parenting, improving self esteem, stress management, personality dimensions and simplifying your life.

“We want to encourage family members to improve their literacy and parenting skills so they can help their children learn outside of school,” said Bonnie MacDonald, a project coordinator and instructor with the Colchester Adult Learning Association . “The workshops provide valuable information and guidance, and in many cases they prompt parents and family members to get involved in other adult learning programs.”

Bass River is the location of one of five family literacy pilot projects organized by the Department of Education in partnership with community literacy organizations. Pilot projects will also be introduced with the Guysborough Adult Learning Association, Hants Literacy Network Association, Eastern Shore Resource Centre and Conseil scolaire acadien provincial. All of the projects are designed to foster opportunities for family members and children to learn together, at school and at home.

The Department of Education’s Family Literacy Day celebrations will include reading circles, children’s activities and entertainment, and remarks from family literacy leaders and participants in the region.

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“Creating a positive learning environment at home is what family literacy is all about,” said acting Education Minister Angus MacIsaac. “Not only do we want to teach children to read and write at school, but we want those literacy skills to be reinforced outside of school hours. The Side By Side project is a strong example of how reinforcing parenting skills can help expand learning opportunities beyond the classroom.”

Family literacy is an inter-generational approach to education that fosters learning and literacy within the family. Examples of family literacy programs include reading circles and homework clubs for parents or caregivers and children, adult literacy programs that focus on the adult as a parent and workshops for parents and caregivers on how to support their child’s educational development.

Family Literacy Day was created by ABC Canada Literacy Foundation in 1999 to promote the importance of family literacy. It is now celebrated every Jan. 27 by families, schools, communities and literacy-related organizations across Canada.

More information about Family Literacy Day activities in Nova Scotia is available at www.nald.ca/famlitns/events/fld2006 . For more information about the family literacy pilot projects, please call 902-893-7200.

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