Families learning and serving together focus of National Family Literacy Month

Celebrations highlight health literacy, STEM and Family Service Learning

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky, – November marks National Family Literacy Month®, a time to focus on the immense influence families have on a child’s education, future success and well-being. To celebrate, the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) and 10 partner organizations are hosting community events throughout November in cities across the U.S. NCFL is a leader in family learning initiatives and has developed a two-generation solution to educational challenges that is being employed across the United States. Health, financial literacy, reading, STEM, and civic engagement are all a part of NCFL’s groundbreaking family literacy programs. (Spanish)

The research is clear – having a strong support system in place can help children excel in the classroom and beyond. Challenges relating to literacy can be a barrier to creating an environment for children to thrive.

NCFL offers a forward-thinking, four part approach to two-generation learning. First, Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time® focuses on parents and children learning together. Second, parents also spend time learning on their own. This may include language skills or technology, such as becoming confident in using a computer resulting in that parent helping their child with homework. Third, family-to-family social networks are created through informal and formal mentoring opportunities. Parents helping parents navigate situations provides a powerful community building tool. Fourth, Family Service Learning projects help solve community problems and encourage civic engagement.

“When parents and children come together to learn and serve, relationships among family members, neighbors and communities are all strengthened,” said Sharon Darling, president and founder of NCFL. “The time commitment is big, but families see this as a worthwhile investment.”

Empowering families

One NCFL initiative – called Toyota Family Learning – empowers parents and caregivers, as well as their children, to become engaged in their schools and communities. During the 2014-15 program year, parents and children in the 10 partner cities spent nearly 17,500 hours learning together; 1,600 of those hours were spent doing 67 Family Service Learning projects. Nearly 80 percent of the families in the program were English language learners.

NCFL’s independent evaluators at Penn State University found that among families graduating from Toyota Family Learning programs:

  • 90% of parents increased their engagement in their children’s education
  • 96% of parents became better teachers to their children
  • 75% of parents increased their English language skills
  • 34% of parents got a better job

PACT Time events

Organizations with Toyota Family Learning programs in Bronx, New York; Cincinnati, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Detroit, Michigan; Houston, Texas; Lincoln, Nebraska; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Providence, Rhode Island; San Mateo, California; and, San Pedro, California will mark National Family Literacy Month with events to promote health literacy, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)-based education, and Family Service Learning projects throughout the month. To learn more about these organizations and their events, visit ToyotaFamilyLearning.org/granteesand follow @NCFL on Twitter.

Free family learning resources

NCFL offers several free online resources for families to learn together in the areas of health, finance, and general curiosity, regardless of parents’ educational background.

  • Healthy Family Habits provides real world ways to establish and hone healthy habits. Available in English and Spanish, the program includes interactive features such as activity recommendations and recipes. It is also offers resources for community organizations.
  • Renegade Buggies, a free app for iOS and Android, helps parents and children gain financial literacy skills together. The app, developed in partnership with the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, was named Instructional Game of the Year (2015) by the Institute for Financial Literacy.
  • Wonderopolis® is a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages. Wonders of the Day® help find learning moments in everyday life—ones that fit in with dinner preparations, carpool responsibilities, and within school curriculum and education programs.
  • Toyota Family Trails® inspires parents and kids to let imagination and exploration lead them on a daily adventure through the world around them and the classroom of life. See examples of how families are learning together.

NCFL partners with educators, schools, community-based organizations, and libraries across the U.S. to help empower families to be more engaged in education and community efforts. For more information, visitFamiliesLearning.org.

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