Family Literacy is a beautiful strategy, illustrated by pictures of parents and grandparents and other caring adults reading, talking, singing, writing, playing, rhyming and laughing together with children. And research confirms the importance of these regular, positive shared activities to overall child development and family relationships.
But what, exactly, are we accomplishing? Fair question, and one the Centre continually asks when planning and implementing its programs.
Ask our staff and they will tell you that our family literacy programs have positive results because of the relationships we enjoy with the Edmonton adults and children who attend our programs, and with our generous volunteers and partners.
If you delve a little deeper, they will tell you about a grown woman beaming with pride and excitement when she wrote her name in cursive for the first time. Or about a parent confiding she never knew how important talking and singing with her baby was until she attended the Rhymes That Bind program with her son.
That parent also tells us that her son now has far stronger language skills than her older daughter did at the same age, and that she’s now reading with both of them lots and lots, and that they are all increasing their reading skills together!
Anecdotes are an important part of measuring success but we also want to couple that with evidence based measurements. So on an annual basis we collect statistics and participant evaluations for all of our programs and they are compiled and reviewed by a third party evaluator. This evaluation provides us with yearly statistics, as well as measures of the desired outcomes of each program.
Simple evaluation forms with tick boxes or rating scales are used to get feedback from all participants. Our community partners also evaluate the effectiveness of the programs.
So let’s look at some of the results.
• 72% were reading more frequently to their children
• 82% were now encouraging other family members to read to children
• 81% said their children were now more interested in books
• 75% were interacting more positively with their children
• 81% were more aware of how to choose books for their children
• 98% of partner agencies rated the program excellent or very good
We consider such anecdotes and evidence as incredibly powerful proof that our literacy programs work, and that literacy makes huge differences in the lives of families and individuals.
"However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results."
Sir Winston Churchill