Linking Your Program to Children's Home Language and Culture
- To find ways of implementing developmentally appropriate practices to link children's home language and culture to the early childhood program.
2 > In Advance
- Distribute the handout (pages 16-17) one week before the workshop.
- Have a flip chart and marker available.
- Take photos of learning centers that reflect the differing cultures and languages of the children. For example, you might photograph:
- displays that include photos of children working on a project
- dramatic-play props that reflect children's backgrounds and cultures
- multiethnic dolls and other multicultural toys
- signs in children's home languages
- a library area that contains books reflecting the diverse languages and cultures of the children in the group
- Make sure you have at least one photo from each teacher's room.
3 > Begin the Workshop
Ask teachers to be prepared to discuss how they implement developmentally appropriate practices to link children's home languages and cultural backgrounds to the early childhood program. They might describe how they:
- use outdoor play as a teaching/learning time
- teach during routines, such as changing diapers or eating lunch
- keep family members involved in the curriculum and program
- foster oral language
- promote different types of play
Show the photographs of the centers and discuss how specific centers meet the needs of individual children and their language and cultural backgrounds.
4 > Continue the Workshop
Continue the workshop by asking teachers to discuss the different approaches they use to link children's home languages and cultural backgrounds. Record the points teachers make on the flip chart.
If your group is large, you could divide teachers into smaller groups and have each group share teachers' responses.
5 > Conclude the Workshop
Plan a program for families. One group of teachers planned a Family Night Out. The children made pizzas for the meal. After the meal, children toured their families through the learning centers. The theme of the centers was clothing. One center held books about clothing and flannel boards for children and parents to use to retell a story. A second center had puzzles of children that could be dressed in a variety of clothing. The art center had materials that families and children could use to make hats.
After the children and families had circulated through the learning centers, the children were taken to another room to play and listen to stories, and the parents gathered to discuss their experience with the teachers. The teachers and director then talked about how and why they use the centers and what the children are learning.
Carol Seefeldt, Ph.D., is a professor of human development at the Institute for Child Study, University of Maryland, College Park.