Leveraging a family literacy project to bridge the gap between home and school
Bryson, Jennifer R.
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The United States has a long history of attempting to intervene or fix how families practice literacy together, with much less emphasis on honoring or understanding how families support literacy learning at home. This qualitative study employed a multiple-case design that examined teachers’ and caregivers’ efforts to bridge home and school literacies as they simultaneously engaged in an after-school family literacy program. Data were collected across a six-week family literacy project, Families Read, including classroom observations, Families Read meeting observations, and interviews with teachers and caregivers. Through a cross-case analysis the following key findings emerged: 1) teachers who participated in Families Read demonstrated broadened understandings of home literacy, 2) teachers’ connections to home literacy in their classroom were limited by the prescribed curriculum, 3) teacher/caregiver dyads developed stronger and improved communication and relationships, 4) caregivers who participated in Families Read described an increased willingness and comfort to participate in the classroom and at the school, and 5) caregivers described changes in the texts they read at home which included more informational books. Implications for practice, policy and research highlight strategies for teachers, schools, policymakers and researchers that support a two-way vision for connecting home and school literacies.