(Published June 2004, Revised January, September, November 2008, May, September 2010)
Parent and Child Interactive Literacy Activities
A specific definition of Family Literacy is used in No Child Left Behind, Workforce Investment Act, Head Start Act and other federal acts. That definition is as follows:
Family literacy services – The term “family literacy services” means services that are of sufficient intensity in terms of hours, and of sufficient duration, to make sustainable changes in a family, and that integrate all of the following activities:
That definition identifies the four core instructional components of Even Start, including interactive literacy activities (ILA). The Even Start statute, Section 1235(5), sets forth staff qualifications for individuals offering academic instruction in the four core instructional components. Additionally, Section 1235(2) requires that grantees ensure that all families receiving services participate in all four core instructional services. Section 1235(3)(3) of the statute requires that programs be designed to accommodate the participants’ work schedule and other responsibilities, including the provision of support services, when those services are unavailable from other sources, necessary for participation in the activities assisted under this subpart, such as scheduling and locating of services to allow joint participation by parents and children.
ILA and parent education work hand in hand. Parents learn interactive literacy strategies, such as dialogic reading, in parent education and practice the skills with their own children during ILA. Parent education can also be used to follow-up with parents after an ILA class. The ILA component serves as a guided practice for parents.
Is it necessary to provide ILA for all Even Start children?
Keep in mind that programs are required to schedule programming so that every family can participate in all four components. Likewise, every family and participant must participate in all components in order to remain in the program.
What about school-aged children?
The provision of ILA for parents and school-aged children requires planning and flexibility. ILA must be part of the monthly schedule, but there is no requirement for any specific amount of time. The following options have been successfully incorporated by programs. Other options may also exist. These are offered as a starting point.
Can we count hours of participation for ILA activities that families complete at home?
Academic instruction occurs in the presence of a qualified staff person. Since ILA is an instructional component of Even Start, it requires a qualified staff person. Distance learning for adult education is the only exception to this. Distance learning occurs only under specific parameters and uses only curriculum approved for distance learning. There is no provision for distance learning for early childhood education, parent education or interactive literacy activities. Families do not earn participation hours for activities they complete with their children outside of class.
Can parents work with another parent’s child during ILA?
The definition above states that ILA is Interactive literacy activities between parents and their children. The law clearly sets forth the expectation that ILA will occur between parents and their own children. It does not establish parameters for parents to participate in ILA with children other than their own.