Literacy 7-12

Systems Change
Literacy 7-12 > Factors > Literacy Environment

Literacy Environment

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How Literacy Environment connects to...

A student's Literacy Environment includes the resources provided by their home, school, and community that helps them develop their literacy skills. Providing classroom supports and resources for families that strengthen the Literacy Environment can help create an equal foundation for all students.

Main Ideas

While the Home Literacy Environment is critical in the development of early literacy skills, during adolescence, students spend more time away from home, both in school and with peers in their community, and have more agency in their literacy choices. The Literacy Environment spans across these areas -- home, school, and community -- to influence the continued development of students' literacy skills.

The Literacy Environment is multifaceted. First, it involves aspects of print exposure, including:

  • The availability of reading and writing materials in the home, school, and community;
  • Exposure to print and writing opportunities through a variety of media including fiction, magazines, music lyrics, the Internet, emails, and text messages; and
  • Time spent reading and writing for school and for pleasure.

The Literacy Environment also involves how others influence a developing reader and writer, including:

  • The literacy skills of parents and caregivers;
  • The instruction parents and caregivers provide when their children are developing their reading and writing skills;
  • The value parents and caregivers place on literacy, such as whether they are avid readers and writers themselves;
  • The encouragement of parents, caregivers, teachers, and librarians to read and write for fun; and
  • Peers, specifically students with high expectations for academic success and a high social status within their group, who can have a positive influence on each others' literacy development.

Literacy development during adolescence is also critical because voluntary writing and reading habits, which are linked to print exposure, are established during these school years. Students report that they have a hard time finding texts that capture their interest, making a robust Literacy Environment even more critical. A collaborative, supportive writing environment where students have many opportunities to write on topics of their choice is also critical.

Many students spend a large portion of their time composing and reading online (e.g., websites, blogs, emails, text messages). Thus, while having access to print books, magazines, and tools for writing is an essential component of a successful Literacy Environment, access to technology, such as computers and mobile phones, is also important, and may not always be available to students in lower-income communities.

Learn More

  • Family Engagement: Topic that includes research on how schools can improve their family engagement on Digital Promise's Research Map

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