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Citation:Cook-Cottone, C. (2004). Constructivism in family literacy practices: Parents as mentors. Reading Improvement, 41(4), 208-216.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the social-constructivist approach to family literacy. This article describes a family literacy program created through and funded by a college-community-school partnership. The program was implemented by representatives from all of the partners. Parent mentors were trained in family literacy techniques and met weekly to examine literacy through story telling, read alouds, decoding strategies, sight word strategies, and other practices. Results indicated that the literacy program provided parents an opportunity to learn and practice principles of literacy within a supportive learning environment. Parents reported that they moved from the role of apprentice to mentor for their children as they became more practiced and knowledgeable in the use of literacy tools. In addition, after participating in the literacy program the children involved showed increases in literacy skills, such as better decoding strategies, structural analysis, and dictionary skills. The cultural mismatch between school and home was discussed. Data were collected from the families of 48 students enrolled in an urban elementary school located in the Northeast. Parents were surveyed before and after program involvement and students were measured with pre and post tests. The demographics of the participants mirrored those of the school as a whole. This study suggests that family mentors may significantly increase children's literacy skills. However, a small case example was utilized for these analyses, thus future research including randomized controlled trials should examine a larger sample in order to establish the robustness of these findings.

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