Parental Engagement in Literacy Rich Home Environments

Raising parental engagement with literacy to improve literacy outcomes for children in the early years of schooling

The Raising Parental Engagement with Literacy health lens is a collaborative project between the Health in All Policies Unit, SA Health, and the Department for Education and Child Development (DECD).

Connection between education and health

Education is well-known to be a key determinant of health and wellbeing.

Education and health have long recognised the important connections between their systems – that healthy children are better learners and that well-educated children are more likely to grow into healthy and active adults.

Evidence shows that improving parental engagement with children’s literacy contributes to improved literacy outcomes in the early years of schooling. There is also good evidence to demonstrate that children’s literacy and educational outcomes have a powerful impact on future health and wellbeing.

About the project

The objective of this project is to investigate how to better engage families from disadvantaged backgrounds in creating a literacy rich environment for children at home and school. These insights have been used to inform schools’ strategic actions in this field and inform policy recommendations.

Parental engagement specifically refers to meaningful participation in children’s learning rather than just involvement in school activities and governance, which, as evidence indicates, has little impact on children’s literacy levels.

To date, the project has involved a comprehensive review of the best available evidence and social research including parent/care-giver focus groups and discussions with teachers/principals to identify best practice in school-parent partnerships to support parental engagement.

This Health Lens Analysis is being carried out in four schools in the Western Adelaide Region. This region has a highly diverse multicultural and socio-economic community of learners. The families involved have largely been with children in Reception to Year 3. The schools are working to develop and implement parent engagement strategies in line with the research findings to create literacy rich environments in learners’ homes. This includes building stronger family-school partnerships and building capacity in parents and caregivers to support the learner at home.

Project outcomes

A working model of Family Engagement with Literacy (PDF 395KB) has emerged out of the work with the four participating schools and the associated research. This includes the identification of quality resources and support tools for use across all schools of DECD to support the aims of the Health Lens project.

A short film showcasing learning’s from the project, ‘Parents as Partners in Learning’* has been developed as an example of good practice at the school level.

Seven cabinet strategic priorities

The project supports South Australia’s strategic priority ‘Every Chance for Every Child’.

South Australia’s strategic plan target

  • T87: Reading, writing and numeracy.

By 2020, for reading, writing and numeracy, increase by 5 percentage points the proportion of South Australian students who achieve:

  • above the National Minimum Standard
  • higher proficiency bands
    (baseline: 2008).

*Micro-documentary produced by ClassMovies in partnership with DECD, 2012.