A children’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) program supports the development of emergent literacy in child participants, while separate programming for parents focuses on family literacy, parenting skills, and/or adult literacy and upgrading. Structured child-parent interaction, known as PACT (parents and children together), gives parents opportunities to practice the skills and strategies they have learned. Examples of this type of program are Parenting for a Literate Community and From Lullabies to Literacy.
Description of Program Model
Established in 1932, the Macaulay Child Development Centre is a non-profit, multi-service child care and family support agency that provides a range of early intervention and prevention programs in high need communities in Toronto. With a grant from the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, the Macaulay Centre developed From Lullabies to Literacy, a complete family literacy workshop-format curriculum. The project included a comprehensive evaluation, which showed the program had a positive impact on the language development and emergent literacy skills of children and resulted in increased use of child literacy promoting activities and strategies for parents and caregivers.
Each of the ten one-and-a-half-hour sessions in the Lullabies curriculum has three components:
- a discussion where parents relate their own experiences to the session’s theme and learn strategies for supporting their children’s early literacy
- interactive play and a book blanket where parents practice the strategies they have learned while playing with and reading to their children
- “rhyme time” where parents and children are introduced to a rhyme or song focusing on a particular letter sound
At the end of each session, parents are encouraged to plan a literacy activity they can do at home with their child.
The themes for discussion include: building self-esteem, talking and listening, songs and rhymes, sounds in language, storytelling, sharing books with children, choosing children’s books, drawing and writing, environmental words and sounds, and a final session that summarizes the preceding discussions.
The curriculum includes detailed information about how to facilitate the three program components along with general guidance for facilitating adult groups. Comprehensive plans for each session contain an agenda, a list of required materials, quizzes to introduce the discussion theme, research-based information to guide the discussion, and handouts and activities for participants. Each session is also adapted for a forty-minute home visit. Resources for facilitators on each discussion theme and a list of recommended children’s books are included.