Schools and policy makers need to take a broader view of parents' involvement in children's literacy. Only by appreciating the different ways in which parents can support children's reading can a balance be achieved between school and parental responsibilities, a National Literacy Trust study says.
Research over the years has consistently shown links between children being read to at home and achievement in reading. But data also show schools have unrealistic expectations of parents' abilities, while many parents have little understanding of how to use books children bring home from school.
Studies show misunderstandings and inconsistencies in home-school literacy programmes that do not adequately communicate to parents how to effectively help children's reading. Some parents complain that the school's philosophy of teaching reading was not communicated, nor the ways in which children learn how to read. For parents who themselves have literacy difficulties, the pressure of helping to develop their children's skills can become a source of tension with their children and with the school.
Schools reported that books sent home by teachers aren't being used by parents for pleasurable reading, as intended, but are treated as an opportunity to assess their children's performance.
The National Literacy Trust calls for schools to set up programmes based on well thought out structures for development and evaluation that also communicate loudly and clearly to parents what the aims and approaches are while stressing the importance of reading for pleasure with children.
Parental Involvement and Literacy Achievement: the Research Evidence and the Way Forward. The National Literacy Trust, 020 7828 2435 Visit: www.literacytrust.org.uk