The Cultural Classroom Connections and Resources
For Today's Teacher
Clarissa Schappert- EEC 3408
When early childhood educators acknowledge and respect children’s home language and culture, ties be- tween the family and programs are strengthened. This atmosphere provides increased opportunity for learning because young children feel supported, nurtured, and connected not only to their home communities and families but also to teachers and the educational setting. NAEYC
Working with young children and their families involves an emphasis on the increasing cultural and linguistic diversity in the United States. In today's world it is vital to to develop sensitivity, knowledge, and cultural awareness in order to successful teach children of other cultures and backgrounds. It is important to not only welcome diversity but to celebrate it and to support the diverse needs of children and their families. Teachers should have an open and supportive approach to working with a diverse community. They should understand the unique needs of their students and be sesitive to their values and identities. Teachers should always be expanded their culutral awarness and understanding.
John Cotton Dana (U.S. librarian and author, 1856-1929)
Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.
The above quote reflects my ideas that as a teacher it is my commitment to life long learning and especially in the realm of ever expanding cultural competence.
Ideas from the National Education Association
There are five basic cultural competence skill areas. They apply to individual educators as well as the schools they work in and the educational system as a whole. Growth in one area tends to support growth in another (Adapted from Diller and Moule, Cultural Competence: A Primer for Educators, Thomson Wadsworth 2005):
Valuing Diversity. Accepting and respecting differences—different cultural backgrounds and customs, different ways of communicating, and different traditions and values.
Being Culturally Self-Aware. Culture—the sum total of an individual's experiences, knowledge, skills, beliefs, values, and interests—shapes educators' sense of who they are and where they fit in their family, school, community, and society.
Dynamics of Difference. Knowing what can go wrong in cross-cultural communication and how to respond to these situations.
Knowledge of Students' Culture. Educators must have some base knowledge of their students' culture so that student behaviors can be understood in their proper cultural context.
Institutionalizing Cultural Knowledge and Adapting to Diversity. Culturally competent educators, and the institutions they work in, can take a step further by institutionalizing cultural knowledge so they can adapt to diversity and better serve diverse populations.
This Video and Article Will Support Personal Development of Cultural Competence
Video: This Video Gives Ideas for Supporting Cultural Competence in the Early Childhood Classroom
The following article is an excellent resource for learning more about expanding your cultural competence.
Important Child Family and Community Topics
1.Building Family Relationships
My Position: Building relationships with families and teaching in a family centered style will benfit all parties. Building relationships helps families and educators better understand one another and to create strong lines of communication. They also can engage in sensitive and supportive relatioships in which they work together towards common goals. Teachers and families have such a large impact on the child and when they work together they can have a very positive influence on the child. The parent should be viewed as a partner in education and should be connected and involved in the child's educational journey.
Resources for Learning More About The Importance of Family Relationships:
1. Reciprocal Relationships NAEYC:
2.Building Parent-Teacher Relationships
3. Benefits of Home Visits as Supported by SERVE at the University of North Carolina
-Increased parent involvement
-Building strong connections between home and child care that support a child’s success
-A chance for educators to view the child in her home/cultural environment
-The opportunity to discuss the teacher’s goals for the child and parents’ expectations
-A chance to discuss any needs parents may have
-A chance to continue educational efforts in the home by bringing learning activities, books, or other suggestions to the parents
-A chance for parents to have one-on-one time with the teacher
-A chance for teachers to focus on one child and his family
-Opportunities for the child to share her home life with her teacher
Times when teachers can model and reinforce positive parent/child interactions
2. Influences on Development and Learning
As an educator it is my job to be aware of the factors that influence the development and learning of children. It is important to understand that there are many special considerations and influences that effect who children are and how they learn and interact with those around them. Children are constantly being influenced by their surroundings including peers, family, media, violence, advertising, family values and goals, money and status, culture, language, etc.
Influence of Media
Influence From Culture
3. The Context of The Child in the Community
It is very important to understand that the child is a member of the community and to be able to think of them as part of Bronfenbrenner's ecological model. I think that to have a true family centered program you must be able to understand how the child is not just a student in your class but a member of a system of contexts all of which influences who the child is. This understanding will help you better serve the student by developing who they are and how they have become this person.
The Following Video Explains Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Model:
The Following Article Helps Explain the Ecological Model:
How to Convey Value of Diversity in Classroom and to Community
I believe that it is important to create a classroom culture that not only conveys a value of diversity but celebrates it. There are many ways to do this. The first step is to understand your own cultural values and beliefs and to be sensitive and open to those of others. You should create a physical environment that has materials, books, and pictures that reflect a multiculutralism. Your students and families should be invited to share their stories, food, ideas, and traditions in an open and accepting way. You should create an environment that is accepting and open to talking about diversity.
The following article provides information about how respect and cultural diversity can be promoted in the early childhood classroom.
The video below is an excellent resource for further education about diversity in the classroom and how to promote the celebration of it.
How to Communicate With Diverse Families
When communicating with families from diverse backgrounds it is important to communicate in a way that is sensitive and free of judgement. You should try to understand why families feel the way they do about certain issues and work in a professional manner to find a common ground or solution. You should be open to learning about the cultures and perspectives. You should ask questions and get more information from the families to show that you not only value their beliefs but want to know more about them.
The NAEYC makes the following recommendations for communication/inclusion of diverse families:
Encouraging and validating family participation in decision making related to their children's education. Families should act as advocates for their children and early childhood education program by actively taking part in decision making opportunities.
Facilitating consistent, two-way communication through multiple forms that is responsive to the linguistic preference of the family. Communication should be both school and family initiated and should be timely and continuous, inviting conversations about both the child's educational experience as well as the larger program.
Exchanging knowledge with families. Family members share their unique knowledge and skills through actively volunteering and participating in events and activities at school. Teachers seek out information about their students' lives, families, and communities, and integrate this information into their curriculum and instructional practices.
Placing an emphasis on creating and sustaining learning activities at home and in the community that extend the teachings of the program so as to enhance each child's early learning.
Supporting families' efforts to create a home environment that values learning and supports programs.
Creating an ongoing and comprehensive system for promoting family engagement by ensuring that program leadership and teachers are dedicated, trained, and receive the supports they need to fully engage families.
The Following Article Provides Recommendations for Communication With Diverse Families:
How I Plan To Increase My Cultural Competence
Statement of Commitment:
As an educator I am constantly working to increase my cultural competence. I do this each and every day by treating the course of my life as a learning experience. I ask questions to find deeper understanding and to see things from the perspectives of others. I read stories of other peoples life experiences, travel and explore different cultures, investigate cultures through the media that are unknown to me and keep an open mind. I also continue to reflect on my own beliefs and think deeply about where they are rooted and how I came to believe them. I also make a commitment to learn more about the cultures of the families of the students I serve.
How to Counteract Bias in Early Childhood Settings
It is important to not only promote and celebrate diversity but to be prepared to counteract bias. As students and families bring to the classroom diverse beliefs and ideas some of these will be very counterproductive to the celebration of diversity dealing with these events and beliefs should be done in a way that is clearly shown to be unacceptable. Children need to know that it will not be allowed in the classroom and that there is no grey area. In order to discourage bias you should educate your students and families on the presence of bias and also model anti-bias behaviors. Children should be a part of a curriculum that supports diversity and recognizes differences while promoting equality among all people.
Articles that support anti-bias education:
How to protect a particular group from bias:
One way to promote equality among diverse skin colors would be to have a brown egg and a white one and to talk about how they look different. The eggs could then be opened to show that they contain the same thing inside.
Resources for Diverse Families:
1. Single Parents
2. Teen Parents
3. LGBT Families
4. Parents of Gifted Students
5. Families Living in Poverty
6. Families of English Language Learners