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"Knowledge is the currency of our economy. If you want to see your workforce in
15 years, look at your children today.
"

Frank McKenna,
Pan Canadian Interactive
Literacy Forum
April 2008


Learning Together Shows Positive Outcomes for Parents and Children

The Learning Together program was re-launched in September 2008 in a new format as a 36-week program. Funding received from Alberta Advanced Education and Technology and a partnership with Edmonton Catholic Schools have enabled twelve families to meet twice a week at St. Gerard School in north-central Edmonton.

The children attend a preschool program with a literacy focus and their parents (and one grandmother) attend their own adult literacy class where they discuss parenting issues, child development, family literacy activities and how to improve and support their own literacy. The parents and children join together once a week to engage in literacy and learning activities, such as: sharing a story, playing a game or making a discovery at the many activity centres around the room.

The first twelve weeks of the program have focused on supporting children’s social, emotional and literacy development. The Learning Together preschool program encourages children to participate in creative play both independently and with their parents. During the joint sessions, parents are encouraged to get on the floor or get their hands dirty and participate in activities with their children. In an article entitled, “Why Children Need Play,” Dr. Elena Bodrova and Dr. Deborah J. Leong (2005) commented that “teachers of entering school-agers do hope that the children who come into their classrooms can concentrate, pay attention, and be considerate of others. These are areas developed not by using flashcards or computer programs, but through interacting with peers during play” (p. 6). One of the parents noticed that her “child brings home new words, table manners, says thank-you for meals and shares songs with his younger sister.” The Learning Together staff are hoping to build on these early successes and to cultivate the skills that the families need to engage in life-long learning.

There has also been evidence of adult literacy learning in the program. One of the parents said that the things she learned in class helped her to communicate with her older child. “My English is better,” she said, “my son is impressed with me.” This same mother has asked to participate in the adult tutor program at the Centre for Family Literacy.

The next twelve weeks of Learning Together will focus on improving adult literacy skills and the facilitators are confident that they will continue to see positive outcomes for both the parents and the children.

 



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