Collaboration between the parents and the school has a powerful influence on a child’s literacy development. However, home-school partnerships to support young learners’ emergent literacy development are weak in South Africa. Research into family literacy in South Africa is particularly important due to many socio-economic factors impacting negatively on family life and on children’s literacy development. The South African education system lacks a dedicated policy for the promotion of family literacy. Against this background the present study investigated the role of family literacy programmes in supporting emergent literacy among young children. A literature study on family literacy and family-school-community partnerships to support literacy framed an empirical inquiry following an interpretivist approach, using an action research design and qualitative techniques of data collection. The Wordworks Home-School Partnerships programme was selected for implementation and the programme was modified through the design and inclusion of a children’s component. A multicultural independent primary school situated in Pretoria, South Africa was selected through a combination of purposeful and convenience sampling. The school principal, four Foundation Phase teachers and seven families including nine children participated in the study. Criteria for family inclusion were that the participating families should have at least one child enrolled in Grade R and at least one parent should agree to attend the full six-week duration of the modified Wordworks School-Family Partnerships programme. Data was gathered during parallel sessions from parents, children and teacher-facilitators through multiple techniques: observation, interviews, feedback sessions, artefacts and journals. Data was analysed according to qualitative principles and the findings were presented in a narrative format substantiated by verbatim quotations. Key findings indicated a greater sense of community among the families and the teachers, improved quality of parent-child interactions, parents’ improved knowledge of emergent literacy skills and improved confidence in supporting their children with early literacy development. The medium term impact of the programme includes benefits for the whole school, the teaching staff, parent body and children. Based on the findings of the literature study and the implementation of the family literacy programme through action research, recommendations were made to improve school-family partnerships with a view to supporting emergent literacy development among young learners.Educational FoundationsD. Ed. (Socio-Education
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