Idaho CareLine: In Idaho, Dial 2-1-1 or 800-926-2588
Did You Know?
Most adults are surprised to hear . . . between the ages of 2 and 5, children become aware of cultural and ethnic differences. Not only do children at this age become aware of differences, they also begin to recognize which differences are valued and which are not.
From: Helping Children Develop Cultural Competence
All children can benefit from exposure to multilingual and multicultural learning environments. . .diversity is not inherently problematic.
From: Cultural Diversity and Early Education
How Can Care Givers and
Become familiar with the values, traditions, and customs of various cultures.
Learn at least a few words of the students' native languages. By showing such interest, you set the tone for better communication.
Encourage parents to help children maintain their native language at home, while the school helps the child attain proficiency in English.
Hold cultural events at the child care center or school; read stories about other countries and cultures. celebrate the traditions learned.
Let children from other cultures or countries tell their "story" and celebrate.
Ideas for Parents:
How to Participate
Volunteer, attend and participate in center/school events.
Take ethnic "treats" to share and discuss.
Encourage the use of both languages in your home; practice with your children.
Promoting Cultural Respect
The role of culture in learning and development has been a prevailing theme in developmental research for more than 50 years.
It has long been recognized that differing cultural influences affect how children view themselves, understand the world, and interpret experiences.
Culture also affects the experiences through which children's earliest literacy is acquired.
As the preschool and school-age populations have become increasingly culturally diverse, interest has also increased in understanding how the different cultures may affect school readiness.
Teachers may find themselves working with classrooms of children they feel ill-prepared to teach. Parents may feel unprepared or not confident about being able to advocate for their child's schooling or worry about how their child is doing in school.
Is he/she learning what they need to learn? Are they adapting into the classroom? If they do adapt, could that result in unexpected problems or confusion at home?
The good news is that members of different cultural groups may have more shared values than they realize.
These shared values include high hopes for their children's school success, a recognition of the importance of educational achievement, and a strong emphasis on the importance of hard work.
It is also important to keep in mind the individual "family situation" may result in different values. Living conditions or economic challenges of some families may result in different goals and priorities for their child(ren).
If a child is in poor health, the family's priority may be on working to afford health insurance, not concern about the quality of child care.
If the neighborhood they live in is unsafe, keeping the child protected and safe may be higher on the priority list than promoting the child's early development.
What are the most important considerations in helping young children who come from minority cultures or use a language other than English? The issues for the "adults" and the "children" are very similar.
Show respect for the family culture. Whatever the role outside the family is (child care provider, teacher, or therapist), respect for the culture and integrating it whenever possible is important if the child is to feel accepted and a part of the group.
Use the differences as strengths for the child to build upon.
The family must also demonstrate the need to learn the local culture and language. This helps support the child in their new settings and encourages the child to learn. This also places a high importance and value of both cultures in a child's life and future success.
Communication and realistic expectations of all parties. Parents and caregivers/educators must talk about how the child is doing, what they are learning, what special help or skills they need to develop.
Learn to respect differences in themselves and in others. They must be taught to respect others, to be proud of themselves, and to be proud of how they may be "different."
Develop strong self esteem. If a child feels good about himself, he will see his "differences" as strengths.
The following two articles stress the importance of these issues. If you follow the links at the bottom of each article, you will also find ideas on how adults can structure the suggestions into child care or school settings.
The General Information on Mexico — Bilingual site includes on history, education, music, festivities, more.
National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE)