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Early Childhood Literacy Programs in Canada
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Early Childhood Literacy Programs in Canada, A National Survey. Acknowledgement, The authors would like to thank Dr Vivian Howard of Dalhousie University s School of. Information Management as well as Carol McDougall and Shanda LaRamee Jones. of Read to Me Nova Scotia Family Literacy Program for their support and guidance. throughout this project We would also like to thank Pam Charron and Claudette Charron. for their invaluable assistance with the French translation of the survey Finally we. would like to extend our thanks to the many early literacy programs across Canada who. contributed their time and shared their experiences with us. All photographs courtesy of Read to Me, The evidence supporting early literacy is solid. Research tells us to start early empower parents and engage children in literacy rich activities Yet. there is a huge gap between what we know and what we do in Canada We know that investing in early. literacy is an investment in the future of Canada yet there is no national strategy to ensure that every. Canadian child is welcomed into the world with the message that literacy is their birthright. The literacy landscape of Canada is dotted with programs often working in isolation and struggling with. shared challenges Over the last decade exciting new programs have been launched but unfortunately. we have also lost important programs like Newfoundland s Books for Babies because of a lack of. sustainable funding For those of us on the front lines there is little opportunity to share resources and. expertise so we often find ourselves re inventing the wheel with the creation of program models and. When the Read to Me Nova Scotia Family Literacy program was launched in 2002 I looked to other. early literacy groups across the country for guidance to help shape our program I was surprised. to find how difficult it was to find and connect with programs doing similar work There was no. national body to bring us all together When I did find other groups I was struck by the similarity. of our challenges finding sustainable funding sourcing high quality books and resources and. accessing and conducting research I felt there was much to be gained by connecting across Canada. to build a stronger voice for early literacy nationally. In the spring of 2010 I met with Dr Vivian Howard Professor at Dalhousie s School of. Information Management to discuss the possibility of conducting a national survey of early literacy. programs Dr Howard was enthusiastic about the project and brought on two Dalhousie School of. Information Management students Deirdre O Reilly and Naomi Balla Boudreau Deirdre and Naomi. worked diligently to gather information from a variety of early literacy book gift and reading programs. across Canada, I hope this survey will help programs connect so we can begin to share research resources and. expertise By connecting the dots and working together we can build a strong national voice to. advocate for early literacy in Canada, Carol McDougall.
Director Read to Me Nova Scotia Family Literacy Program. Table of Contents, List of Figures page iii, Introduction page 1. Background page 1, Family and Emergent Literacy, Methods page 2. Literature Review, Population Sample, Table of Contents. Limitations, Key Findings page 4, Overview of programs. Program goals, Target populations, Primary point of contact.
Type of Programming, Resource Sharing, Governance model. Volunteers, Annual Reports, Programming and Evaluation. Successes page 14, Challenges page 15, Funding Challenges. Outreach Challenges, Staffing Challenges, Conclusion page 17. References page 19, Appendices page 23, Appendix A Literature Review.
Appendix B Survey Questions, Appendix C Ethics Approval. To view Appendix D and E List of Survey Respondents and the Annotated Bibliography. please visit readtome ca and click on the Research link. List of Figures, and Tables, List of Figures, Figure 1 Survey distribution by province and territory page 3. Figure 2 Target populations page 4, Figure 3 Primary point of contact page 5. Figure 4 Type of programming offered page 6, Figure 5 Interest in collaborating with other programs page 7. Figure 6 Program research page 8, Figure 7 Program funding sources page 10.
Figure 8 Is your funding adequate page 11, Figure 9 Lack of funding impacts program delivery page 11. Figure 10 Funding by rural and urban settings page 12. Figure 11 Funding according to geographic region page 13. Figure 12 Program outreach methods page 14, Figure 13 How staff levels meet program needs page 16. Introduction, Background, Introduction, The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of early childhood literacy programs in Canada. by identifying programs and gathering information on their operations programming and challenges. Targeted programs include those that offer literacy resources and or programs to families with. children under the age of five and include book gift and reading programs A literature review and. national survey were used to generate data determine trends and identify gaps between research. and practice This research project is a joint initiative between Read to Me Nova Scotia Family Literacy. Program and Dalhousie University s School of Information Management. Background, It has been established that literacy is linked to health employability and income Canadian Language. Literacy Research Network CLLRN 2009 Grenier 2008 McCain Mustard Shanker 2007 While. there are many types and definitions of literacy UNESCO 2004 proposed the following as a working. definition to encapsulate the diverse literacies needed to function in today s society. Literacy is the ability to identify understand interpret create communicate and. compute using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their. goals to develop their knowledge and potential and to participate fully in their. community and wider society p 13, Additionally the Organization for Economic Co Operation and Development OECD has defined.
literacy as the ability to understand and employ printed information in daily activities at home at. work and in the community to achieve one s goals and to develop one s knowledge and potential. as cited in the CLLRN 2009 p 11 According to the OECD definition of literacy more than 42 of. Canadians do not have adequate literacy skills for succeeding in Canadian society CLLRN 2009 p 11. Family and Emergent Literacy, Because a large portion of early learning takes place within the home environment family literacy. has a key role in early childhood literacy and development In addition to intellectual learning. family literacy initiatives should promote social and emotional learning CLLRN 2009 p 24 The. goals of family literacy programs include helping parents understand the importance of the home. environment in developing children s language and literacy skills helping parents acquire learning. resources for use with their children teach ing parents specific activities that promote language and. literacy development and build ing literacy skills of the parents CLLRN 2009 p 24 As noted by. Pelletier w hen parents have knowledge about early literacy development they are able to provide. home environments that are rich with meaningful and embedded literacy experiences for preschool. children 2008 p 9, Literature review, A literature review was conducted to develop a foundational understanding of early childhood literacy. development as well as factors which influence practice Topics included brain and language development. family and shared reading health literacy policy and economics and research and practice The literature. review was also used to identify trends including best practices and challenges facing families and early. childhood literacy practitioners Many articles discussed the significant gap between what is known and. what is practiced To read the literature review see Appendix A. The online survey was developed in partnership with the Read to Me Nova Scotia Family Literacy Program. a hospital based program which provides books and literacy resources to every child born in Nova Scotia. The survey was comprised of forty nine questions both qualitative and quantitative that covered five key. areas program details staffing funding outreach and partnerships and research practices The survey. concluded with an opportunity for participants to share the primary challenges and successes their program. has experienced as well as space to make additional comments The survey was created online using Opinio. software In order to test the accessibility and relevance of the questions a pilot survey was distributed to. three programs that reflected the diversity of programming in Canada These three programs were asked to. complete the survey and give feedback While the pilot did not result in significant changes it provided an. opportunity to receive feedback from practitioners To view the survey questions see Appendix B. A French translation of the survey was prepared and distributed to French programs operating across. Canada and approximately 7 of surveys were returned in French Given the bilingual nature of many. communities across Canada however the language of return does not necessarily represent the language. of programming offered by respondents In total 38 indicated that they target francophone families. Population sample, Participants for the survey were identified through online searches and professional networks Government. and organization websites were the primary resources for contact information The survey targeted. programs and organizations that offered literacy and related resources and or programming to families. with young children specifically children up to five years of age Primary contacts were encouraged to share. the survey link with other early childhood literacy program representatives The survey link was distributed. to approximately 200 contacts In addition to those contacted by the research team many individuals. passed the survey link on to other early literacy practitioners When the survey closed 55 respondents. had completed the survey in full An additional three respondents completed over 50 of the survey. questions and were included in the final analysis resulting in a total of 58 surveys Thus our final return rate. was approximately 29 A list of survey respondents can be seen in Appendix C Participants were able to. quit the survey at any time As a result some questions have fewer than 58 responses Additionally some. questions asked participants to select multiple answers as needed as a result some questions have more. than 58 responses, Survey respondents were asked to provide information regarding the geographic scope of their programs. Because the primary goal for this research was to gain a broad understanding of early childhood literacy. programs in Canada it was important that the survey sample included responses from across the country. Although the majority of complete surveys were returned from the province of Ontario there were. respondents from each province While only one survey was returned from the territories the program that. completed the survey operates in Yukon Northwest Territories and Nunavut Figure 1 indicates the number. of surveys returned from each province, Figure 1 Survey distribution by province and territory.
In addition to provincial distribution survey respondents were asked to indicate if their program operates. in urban or rural settings Of the 58 respondents 34 20 indicated that the region they serve is primarily. urban 34 20 indicated the region they serve is both urban and rural and 31 18 indicated the region. they serve is primarily rural While the majority of respondents noted that their program operates at the. municipal level 3 2 indicated national operations, Ethics approval was obtained from Dalhousie University and the School of Information Management. See Appendix D for a copy of the ethics application There were no significant hazards associated with. participating in the survey The survey took between 20 and 30 minutes to complete and participants were. able to save their responses and return to complete the survey at a later time Additionally participants. did not have to complete every question in order to have their survey considered complete A statement. on consent and confidentiality was provided in a preface to the survey Participants were able to indicate. the level of anonymity they wanted regarding the data they contributed Additionally participants had the. opportunity to give permission to Read to Me to access survey data after the completion of this research. to support the development of an early childhood literacy network Participants were informed of their. right to retract their contributions from the research As part of their role as supervisors to this research. project Vivian Howard academic advisor from Dalhousie University Carol McDougall Director and Shanda. LaRamee Jones Provincial Coordinator of Read to Me were advised regarding data analysis and therefore. had limited access to the raw data, Limitations, This study does not offer an exhaustive list but a broad survey of a variety of programs The study. captures basic information on size scope and model Because this study was designed to generate a. The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of early childhood literacy programs in Canada by identifying programs and gathering information on their operations programming and challenges Targeted programs include those that off er literacy resources and or programs to families with children under the age of fi ve and include book gift and reading programs A literature review and

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