Family Time Online – Description

This project led by the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick in collaboration with the following New Brunswick agencies:

  • Healthy Families-Healthy Babies
  • Family and Early Childhood Agencies
  • Family Resource Centres
  • The Early Childhood Centre, University of New Brunswick
  • Talk with Me
  • NB Public Library
  • Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
  • Department of Post-secondary Education Training and Labour

We shined a light on best practices to create and test an Educator’s Guide for providing virtual literacy programs for families. We also focused on building digital literacy capacity for both parents and practitioners and increasing awareness and linkages to programs and supports for both adults and children in New Brunswick.

Project Goals:

  • Document and explore promising practices through online participation in joyful literacy experiences between infants, toddlers, caring adults, families, and educators.
  • Build digital literacy.
  • Increase awareness of programs and supports for adults’ educational upgrading and job searches in New Brunswick.
  • Pilot and create an Educator’s Guide with approximately 20 families.

Collectively, the following principles for our program approach were established:

  • Digital literacies needed to be playful, joyful, accommodating, and contributing to the strengths of educators, infants and toddlers and their loving adults while respecting relationships, the demands of family life, the diversities of home environments, access to materials and internet, and the processes of multi-generational learning.
  • The focus was on engagement, relationships, playful, joyful, participation with a shared digital space that valued picture books, mark making tools, toys, language and communication.
  • The goal was to engage children’s intellect through intentionally selected picture books, engaging children in making their own marks and books, and playfully extending their language through poetry, specific vocabulary, and playfulness.
  • Rather than resisting digital literacies, the aim was to learn digital literacies with and from families. As media mentors, a list of online family resources, tested with other children and families, was curated and added to the guide.

The project provided:

  • Parallel literacy kits – giving both the educator and families the same books, toys, and materials to mirror each other during online sessions.
  • High speed internet – families who did not previously have internet had a high speed internet connection set up for them at no cost to the family.
  • Online family literacy sessions – educators met with families individually online for a one-on-one experience.
  • Information on other programs – information on other family related programs, as well as adult literacy and employment information, were given to families.
  • An overall project evaluation.