The City of Salisbury Library Service runs a family literacy program called ABC 30&3, which promotes the vital role parents play in the development of their child’s early literacy skills. Throughout the program we show parents and caregivers how to share books, language and music effectively and regularly with their children, and in doing so it is anticipated that young children will be better prepared to start school and less likely to fall behind in reading and writing.
ABC 30&3 is targeted to specific at-risk sections of the community, in areas where reading may not be a regular activity in the home. In particular, the program targets suburbs that feature poor results in the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI).
Running since 2011, the program has recently expanded and developed further to form part of the Early Intervention response in Salisbury Council’s Regional Public Health Plan.
This paper will be based on research methodologies of a qualitative nature, and include the following: literature review, primary research undertaken through conducting the program under discussion, and use of primary data sources including Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Early Development Census. Results from a small sample group of surveyed program participants are used for program evaluation purposes.
Research demonstrates that the earliest stages of a child’s life shape their future: the level of cognitive, emotional, social, and linguistic skills they develop in their early years will determine their adult behaviour.
When parents and caregivers share stories, songs and play with their young children, the benefits are long term. These benefits include development of language skills, motor skills, bonding between parents and children, and the development of literacy skills that will serve as a strong foundation for school learning.
While our library’s family literacy program does not include the capabilities for a longitudinal study to track these long term benefits in the lives of our participants, we believe our work contributes to a culture of learning and a love of reading in the home. Program evaluation, and feedback from families involved indicates the resources we provide, and knowledge we share is supporting these families in providing their children with a solid foundation for lifelong literacy.
This paper presents the underpinning research and values, and demographic information that inform our library’s ABC 30&3 family literacy program. Through this program we are contributing to a culture that values literacy and lifelong learning, supporting local families in developing their child’s early literacy skills.
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