Family literacy project exceeds expectations
A unique approach to early literacy work developed by University of Sheffield experts where children build up their language skills and their ability to read and write from an early age has benefited as many as 6,000 families.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) initially planned to use the approach with around 60 families, but discovered that around 6,000 had actually benefited from their work.
Professor Cathy Nutbrown, of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Education, who led the project, shared her approach on family literacy with Early Years practitioners including nursery workers, teachers, child-minders and family support units to help them plan and evaluate their family literacy work.
She was delighted to discover that the initial 20 practitioners had shared the approach with some 300 colleagues, far more than anticipated, creating case studies documenting the benefits of the approach.
Professor Nutbrown said: “We have been excited to see how the Early Years practitioners involved in this project are taking our ideas and developing them further to work with parents who have young children, so that they can help develop their interest in literacy from an early age. This has greatly exceeded our expectations and by the end of the project the new approach reached over 6,000 families.”
About 20 practitioners learned the theory behind the practical work they do and how it can benefit children’s literacy. They agreed to adopt the framework and report back on its application, how they adapted it, and impact.
Most said that it helped promote many activities including enhancing parents’ recognition of the reading behaviour in three and four year old bilingual children, encouraging talk in two year olds and encouraging young, reluctant boys to begin communicating with writing.
The Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction and Models (ORIM) Framework
• Opportunities included resources for engaging with literacy such as books, writing materials, and use opportunities to see and discuss printed work.
• Recognition showed parents the small steps in literacy progress their children were making to encourage their efforts.
• Interaction outlined situations where parents could positively involve themselves in literacy activities -writing birthday cards, saying nursery rhymes, reading stories or spotting print images in the neighbourhood.
• Modelling was where the parents lead by example and their children could see that they were using reading, writing and print in everyday life.
The unique approach developed by the Sheffield research team was entitled ‘Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction and Models (ORIM) Framework in the Raising Early Achievement in Literacy’ project and began in the late 1990s. The framework focuses on four key elements: opportunities, recognition, interaction and models. The key to the framework is that it highlights parents’ roles and offers ideas for how they can help their child.
The ORIM Framework and details of the whole project ‘A Framework for Early Literacy Development with Parents’ will feature prominently during International Literacy Day on the 8 September 2012.
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, and 2007).
These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world. The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.
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