Family Literacy Bags: An Effective Family Engagement Strategy
Supporting parents and families is a crucial part of high-quality early learning. Without respectful partnerships with teachers and providers, families may feel disconnected, lack confidence or the resources needed to assist in their children’s learning journey. One effective way to engage families is through Family Literacy Bags.
What are Family Literacy Bags?
Family Literacy Bags are filled with books, activities, games, puppets and other materials that support your chosen theme. Families borrow the bags to take home and use while spending time with their children. Goal Two of the Maryland Early Childhood Family Engagement Toolkit states family engagement initiatives should promote positive parent-child relationships. Family literacy bags are an exciting way to involve families in building children’s literacy skills.
The bags also encourage lifelong reading habits and engage children who are new to reading at home. Family Literacy Bags provide families with the tools to embrace their role as their children’s first teachers. Goal Three of the Maryland Early Childhood Family Engagement Framework Toolkit states family engagement initiatives should support families as the lifelong educators of their children.
How to Create Family Literacy Bags?
Here is a simple checklist to create your Family Literacy Bags:
- Start small. One to three bags at a time work well.
- Select a theme or themes for the bags. Choose topics that interest the children, promote skills you are teaching or represent situations that families may be experiencing.
- Purchase sturdy canvas or collect recycled bags. Decorate the bags to make them appealing to families.
- Fill each bag with books and activities related to the theme. Consider purchasing books from local library sales, Craigslist, eBay, yard sales or secondhand stores to reduce your costs. Remember to find fiction and nonfiction books.
- Create a Family Activity Card for each bag to give the families ideas for using the materials.
- Rotate the bags among the families in your program.
- Give each family two weeks to use the activities and books. Ask the families for feedback on their experiences through open-ended questions such as, “Which book was your child’s favorite and why?” and “Which activity did you and your child enjoy most?”
Family Literacy Bags provide families with quality literacy resources as well as send a message to families that they matter to you. When you support families with helpful resources, you build those trusting relationships children need to succeed.
- Download and print materials for your Family Literacy Bags here.