Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Professional Hopes and Goals: Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Early Childhood Settings

We should enjoy every tree in the forest.
Every tree is valuable.
Have you heard the saying “Can't see the trees for the forest”?  That is how many people look at Early Childhood programs.  The “forest” is the total program but the “trees” are the families and children.  The forest/program may be beautiful but the trees/families and children make it beautiful.
lEach tree has it's own qualities and traits.  Some do well with a little help and some need more attention to grow to their full potential.
Unlike trees,all children need our help and some children need more attention to develop to their full potential. 
Volunteer "Grandpa" has time to talk
Hispanic family in program
What kind of trees are in the forest?   Translation – what children, families and volunteers are in your program?
lThe families entering Early Childhood programs come from diverse cultures.  They may speak a language other than English as their first language.
lThey may come from various socio-economic backgrounds. They may enroll a child with different abilities.

The challenge for early childhood educators is to become more knowledgeable about how to relate to children and families whose linguistic or cultural background is different from their own (NAEYC 1995).
  I further add that the early childhood educators can not shy away from reaching out to those families whose children may have differing abilities, not just special needs but also children who are gifted and talented.
  For the optimal development and learning of all children, educators must accept…respect…value…promote and encourage the active involvement and support of all families, including extended and nontraditional family units (NAEYC 1995).  These are the elements for a strength-based program.
Acknowledge and Support Nontraditional Families
Support of children with Special needs
Children learn about each other through play
Acknowledge that children can demonstrate their knowledge and capabilities in many ways
Support All Children and Families
A Strong Forest is filled with different trees.  A strong and clear path will lead to success.

My hopes are that children and families feel respected, comfortable and included in programs designed to serve them.

My goal is to work with Early Childhood professionals who will be responsible for creating and implementing the programs that are anti-biased, inclusive, diverse, and stand for social justice.

To my colleagues, this course has allowed us to take a good hard look at ourselves and see the good and not so good parts of our social identities.  I have enjoyed our discussions, and I have learned about myself through reading them.

I wish you all the best as we continue our educational quests.  Please have a safe and Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice and a Happy New Year.

Dearman-Sparks, L. & Edwards, J.O. (2010) Anti-Bias Education for Children and
     Ourselves Washington , DC:  National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

National Association for the Education of Young Children. (1995) Responding to Linguistic and
     Cultural Diversity Recommendations for Effective Early Childhood Education A position
     statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children Retrieved from


  1. Stephanie,

    I love your metaphor of the trees/forest in relation to programs/children-families. It is perfect. It is so saddening how people do not see how much and what children/families bring to the program and how important they are. Each child is different as well as families in a variety of ways and we need to welcome both with open arms. Thank you for your insights and feedback. Happy Holidays!!

  2. Stephanie-

    I love your analogy of the forest and the trees. Your right, the families and children do make our forest beautiful. That you for sharing. You have been an awesome inspiration.