Family literacy project exceeds expectations

September 6, 2012

A unique approach to early literacy work with families where children develop their language skills and their ability to read and write from an early age has had a huge success.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) initially planned to use the approach with around 60 families, but discovered that around 6,000 had actually benefited from their work.

Professor Cathy Nutbrown of the University of Sheffield, who led the project, shared her approach to family with Early Years practitioners including nursery workers, teachers, child-minders and family support units to help them plan and evaluate their family literacy work.

A report by the National Literacy Trust in May this year found that in the UK are more likely to lack the basic reading and writing skills than children in Australia or Canada - even though the UK spends four per cent of its (GDP) on family benefits relating to children compared to 1.2 per cent in the USA and 1.4 per cent in Canada.

The Sheffield research team further developed the 'ORIM Framework in the Raising Early Achievement in Literacy' project in the late 1990s. The framework focuses on four key elements: opportunities, recognition, interaction and models (ORIM). The key to the framework is that it highlights parents' roles and offers ideas for how they can help their child.

1. Opportunities included resources for engaging with literacy such as books, writing materials, and use opportunities to see and discuss printed work.

2. Recognition showed parents the small steps in literacy progress their children were making to encourage their efforts.

3. Interaction outlined situations where parents could positively involve themselves in literacy activities - writing birthday cards, saying nursery rhymes, reading stories or spotting print images in the .

4. Modelling was where the parents lead by example and their children could see that they were using reading, writing and print in everyday life.

Around 20 practitioners learned the theory behind the practical work they do and how it can benefit children's literacy. They agreed to adopt the framework and report back on its application, how they adapted it, and impact. Most said that it helped promote many activities including enhancing parents' recognition of the reading behaviour in three and four year-old bilingual children, encouraging talk in two year olds and encouraging young, reluctant boys to begin communicating with writing.

"We have been excited to see how the Early Years practitioners involved in this project are taking our ideas and developing them further to work with parents who have young children, so that they can help develop their interest in literacy from an early age," says Professor Nutbrown.

Professor Nutbrown was delighted to discover that the initial 20 practitioners had shared the approach with some 300 colleagues, far more than anticipated. She added: "This has greatly exceeded our expectations and by the end of the project the new approach reached over 6,000 families."

Explore further: Simple tip to boost prep literacy

Related Stories

Simple tip to boost prep literacy

August 22, 2012
A three-year Queensland University of Technology (QUT) study has found that a prep-year child's literacy was boosted when parents or carers asked children simple questions about a book while reading it to them.

Home learning experiences boost low-income kids' school readiness

June 17, 2011
Home learning experiences that are consistently supportive in the early years may boost low-income children's readiness for school. That's the finding of a new longitudinal study that appears in the journal Child Development.

Robust preschool experience offers lasting effects on language and literacy

August 18, 2011
Preschool teachers' use of sophisticated vocabulary and analytic talk about books combined with early support for literacy in the home can predict fourth-grade reading comprehension and word recognition, new research from ...

Recommended for you

New study rebuts the claim that antidepressants do not work

August 18, 2017
A theory that has gained considerable attention in international media, including Newsweek and the CBS broadcast 60 minutes, suggests that antidepressant drugs such as the SSRIs do not exert any actual antidepressant effect. ...

Should I stay or should I leave? Untangling what goes on when a relationship is being questioned

August 17, 2017
Knowing whether to stay in or leave a romantic relationship is often an agonizing experience and that ambivalence can have negative consequences for health and well-being.

Kids learn moral lessons more effectively from stories with humans than human-like animals

August 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto found that four to six-year-olds shared more after listening to books with human characters than books with anthropomorphic ...

History of stress increases miscarriage risk, says new review

August 17, 2017
A history of exposure to psychological stress can increase the risk of miscarriage by upto 42 per cent, according to a new review.

Study finds children pay close attention to potentially threatening information, avoid eye contact when anxious

August 17, 2017
We spend a lot of time looking at the eyes of others for social cues – it helps us understand a person's emotions, and make decisions about how to respond to them. We also know that adults avoid eye contact when anxious. ...

Communicating in a foreign language takes emotion out of decision making

August 16, 2017
If you could save the lives of five people by pushing another bystander in front of a train to his death, would you do it? And should it make any difference if that choice is presented in a language you speak, but isn't your ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.