Fostering an Action Research Project to Promote Family Learning in a New Zealand Primary School

By Franco Vaccarino, Niki Murray, Margie Comrie, Craig Sharp and Frank Sligo.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The home is a child’s first school and the parent or caregiver the child’s first and most important teacher. The concept of family learning builds upon this natural learning bond. Studies have shown that families who read with their children and engage in informal literacy and numeracy activities contribute to their academic and post-school achievement. Research indicates the most effective education occurs when school values and organisational practices are consistent with family values and attitudes. Although successful educational outcomes are the result of positive interaction between families and schools, parents are often ill at ease in the school environment or do not understand how important they continue to be in their children’s education. As part of an attempt to build parent-school interaction, the principal of a primary school in New Zealand, in conjunction with university researchers, introduced a family learning project involving parents, children and teachers. The aim is to promote children’s literacy, numeracy and communication skills and ultimately to integrate family learning into the school curriculum. This paper describes an ongoing family learning action research project in the first year at the school. It discusses the collaborative and consultative process undertaken, the development of appropriate resources, as well as some initial outcomes of this project.

Keywords: Family Learning, Parental Involvement in Education, Emergent Literacy

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 8, pp.235-244. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 567.106KB).

Dr. Franco Vaccarino

Post Doctoral Fellow, Department of Communication and Journalism, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

I’m an Italian, raised in South Africa, and now living in Aotearoa/New Zealand! My background is in adult literacy and applied linguistics. My career in the adult literacy field started at a commercial bank where we provided literacy classes to employees. At the University of South Africa I was involved in training individuals who wanted to become literacy facilitators, including prisoners. I was the national coordinator of prisoner-students in 55 prisons throughout South Africa. In a joint project by the University of South Africa and an NGO, I managed and coordinated a family literacy project in various sites throughout South Africa, including urban and rural areas, a farm school, a slum area, a mother-child prison, an AIDS-orphaned village, and a special needs school. I designed and developed adult literacy, post-literacy and non-formal education curricula for the Ministry of Education in the Republic of Mozambique. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow involved in a longitudinal research study of adult literacy and employment in New Zealand.

Niki Murray

Project Manager/Research Officer, Department of Communication and Journalism, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Margie Comrie

Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Journalism, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Craig Sharp

Castlecliff School, Wanganui, New Zealand

Frank Sligo

Massey University, New Zealand


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