Date of Graduation


Document Type



The family's influence on children's learning has been well documented in the literature. Early literacy experiences in the home can facilitate children's acquisition of reading and writing skills and impact school achievement. A lowered socioeconomic level and low educational achievement challenge parents' abilities to provide literacy experiences for their children. The purpose of the present study was to examine the literacy practices of families who participated in an Even Start Family Literacy program and to describe parents' views of education and role of teacher of their children. Data for three case families were collected by semi-structured interviews of five parents and two Even Start staff members, observations of Even Start home visits and observations of parent-child storybook sharing, parent responses to hypothetical learning situations, Even Start test records and results from the HOME Screening Questionnaire. Data were collected at two intervals divided by an eight-weak intervention time period. Results indicated that the three case families provided a variety of literacy experiences and that the parents valued education for themselves as well as their children. Parents viewed themselves as influencing their children's learning and provided informal and formal learning activities to help their children become prepared for school. Literacy activities included regular parent-child book reading, writing and drawing opportunities, computer activities and structured teaching. Changes attributed to the Even Start program included: improved mother-child storybook sharing, increased family reading, increased interest in children's participation in preschool learning programs, increased awareness of learning opportunities within family routines and increased parental interest and participation in adult education. This study supports existing studies of family literacy programs which have found an intergenerational approach can be successful in improving both children's and parents' literacy development. Results from the study further emphasize that teachers should recognize, enhance and build upon family learning contexts to assure children's successful school learning.