Learn with Fred - Dundee family literacies project

​Learn with Fred was a family literacies learning programme which took place in Dundee during 2013-14. At the heart of the project was the recognition that parents and carers are their child's first educator and play a significant role in giving their child the best start in life.

It was also based on evidence that learning handed down from parents and carers has a positive influence on a child's reading ability.

Families who took part were provided with additional support to address barriers and improve life chances.

Each child was given a bear (Fred) and time was spent in the first few weeks building each child's bond with their bear. Every week, each family unit was asked to talk about what their bear had been doing since they had last met.


The programme was to give parents and carers an understanding of how children develop and learn and to highlight the important role of parents as the first and primary educator of their child by:

  • showing how everyday interactions and activities can be a learning opportunity
  • building parents' and carers' confidence, ability and skills to develop the home to support their child's early literacy skills
  • providing information to support and develop their child's early literacy skills.

Some sessions were parent-only, allowing parents and carers to explore ideas and to feel confident about the activities they would do with their children. The practical activities used were imaginative, interesting and cheap ways to engage their children in their own learning, for example:

  • Making puppets and props to go along with favourite stories
  • Using tone of voice, actions, rhyme and repeating stories and activities
  • Writing their own story and drawing pictures after a day out
  • Keeping a special box with favourite and unknown books.

What changed as a result of the project?

Fred was a great success as a learning tool. He was used in sessions as much as possible. Some children wouldn't do the actions themselves but would make Fred do them. This built their confidence, their skills and abilities in the groups.

  • Supporting their child's learning - The outcome of the project was very positive, with all parents and carers who completed the sessions saying that they were now either confident or very confident in doing activities with their child and had gained a better understanding of the importance of their child's learning.
  • Using music and singing nursery rhymes - Parents and carers realised that using music and singing nursery rhymes would later help their child to read and spell.
  • Language and communication - Parents and carers were pointing out the names of things and sounds of letters and were doing this either several times a week or once or more a day.They were having conversations with their children more than once a day and were talking about/teaching colours and shapes more than once a day.
  • Sharing books and stories - Parents and carers were sharing books with their children either once or more than once a day and had joined their local library.
  • Play - Parents and carers played with their children in a more constructive way, using activities and ideas that would develop literacy. They used everyday materials they could find at home.

See full report:  PDF file: Learn with Fred - Evaluation Report (3.4 MB)