Family literacy

Family literacy describes:

  • The uses of literacy and numeracy within families and communities, especially activities which involve two or more generations;
  • Education programmes that help to develop literacy and numeracy learning in a family context.


Why is family literacy important?

Family literacy programmes improve the literacy and numeracy practices of parents and other family members. They have a significant knock on effect on the school performance of children.  Family literacy provides a win-win scenario to policy makers and practitioners, particularly those involved in education in disadvantaged communities. 


What we want to see happen:

NALA policy work advocates that family literacy is developed within the contexts of all adult education and community services as well as the national literacy strategy for children.   This would enable schools, community and adult education providers work with parents to combat educational disadvantage for children and adults.

NALA recommends that a dedicated and significant funding stream be established for family literacy work, and that this should be accessed on the basis of a partnership between families, communities and schools.


Current work

NALA secured a role in The National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People (July 2011).  

NALA aims to:        

  • support a national public information campaign highlighting the role that all parents and communities can play in improving children’s literacy and numeracy; and
  • target tailored information on supporting children’s literacy and numeracy to parents with literacy difficulties through adult and family literacy provision by VECs.


Our work to date includes:

Two television series on family learning called "The Family Project" (2013 and 2014).

Campaigns with early years organisations and libraries in 2013.

Developed a new website for parents called (live since September 2012).


NALA Submission to the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy for Children and Young People February 2011  N:\New Structure\Policy\Government\Department of Education & Skills\National Literacy & Numeracy Plan\NALA submission to Draft Literacy and Numeracy Plan Feb 2011.pdf


"At Home with Family Learning" (2009) - A5 size book with fun and useful ways to improve reading, writing and maths. Ideas are for parents of babies and toddlers, pre-schoolers and young school children.


"Supporting Family Literacy" (2007) - Ideas and tips for tutors in family learning programmes.


"Working together: approaches to family literacy" (2004) - Resource giving an introduction to the concept of family literacy and guidelines for groups interested in family literacy work.


Selected NALA Research

"NALA Research Briefing Paper:  Family literacy in Ireland" (NALA September 2011) - This paper puts forwards findings and recommendations from NALA research on the benefits and impacts of family literacy for both adults and children.

"Family learning in action: an overview of family learning programmes" (NALA February 2011) - This provides an overview of family learning as it takes place in local communities and details the benefits of participation to families involved. Findings show that participation is beneficial to families and has a positive impact on the relationship between home and school.

"Taking care of family literacy work" (NALA December 2010) - An enquiry with parents about their experience of nurturing language and literacy in the home.

"At home with family literacy: a study of family literacy practices" (NALA May 2010) - This report involved 41 families in 4 communities and enhanced our understanding of family literacy practices. The primary aim of the research was to focus on and to identify where, how and why learning takes place in the home.