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Family Literacy: Respecting Family Ways

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Family Literacy: Respecting Family Ways

Throughout history, the family has been the primary source for learning. Before the advent of schools, children were taught at home by their parents, older siblings, grandparents, and/or other relatives. With the introduction of formal schooling, the teaching of values, cultural practices, and skills such as cooking, sewing, farming, and trapping continued to originate in the home. Today, in spite of the vast public and private educational systems, some parents are choosing to teach their children at home, confident in their belief that teaching in the context of family is the best way to ensure the learning the desire.

Public agencies, such as the National Center for Family Literacy, and private foundations, such as the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, have shown their support of the family as a primary place of learning by funding programs that provide training and assistance to families for the promotion of literacy. This Digest discusses the family as a preferred place of literacy development and highlights family literacy initiatives that reflect respect for the family as a site of learning.

A Contextual Connection

Because the family exists in a network of community, its members are continually communicating, negotiating, and otherwise interacting with schools and business institutions in the workplace, within the context of their cultural and community orientations (Bhola 1996). The social aspect of these relationships suggests that the development of programs and curriculum must focus on the family unit as a whole, building upon the cultural and knowledge capital of the entire family, and acknowledging gender and age power relationships within the family.

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