bububooks

Helping children develop their American and native cultural identities together.

Posts Tagged ‘NAEYC’

NAEYC Themes, Part 6: Research, Facts and Things to Know about Dual Language Learners

Posted by bububooks on January 25, 2010

In the last (a short and sweet one!) of our blog series on common themes from the 2009 NAEYC’s annual conference, we present a hodge-podge of facts we gathered throughout that week in D.C.  Enjoy!

–Language acquisition depends not only on adequate hearing, the ability to differentiate sounds, and the capacity to link meaning to specific words, but also on the ability to concentrate, pay attention, and engage in meaningful social interaction.

–Learning a second language and learning to read are complex tasks influenced by cognitive, environmental and social factors.

–Bilingual Children
-Exhibit the same language milestones as monolingual children
-May acquire language at a slower rate and have more limited total vocabularies in each language
-Have a combined vocabulary in both languages likely to equal or exceed that of a child who speaks one language

–Preschoolers actively listen to and separate out two languages.  So we can use both languages interchangeably.

–Development of language and literacy in the home language (or first language) facilitates development of language and literacy in the second language and cognitive development.  Academic language ability takes 5-7 years.  Social language ability (i.e. Hello, how are you?) is easy to accomplish.

–For more current guidance, check out:
-Head Start Performance Standards and Head Start Dual Language Report (2008)
-Tabors, Patton O. One Child, Two Languages: Children Learning English as a Second Language. Paul H. Brookes Publishing, 2008.
-Igao, Cristina. The Inner World of the Immigrant Child. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 1995.
-Espinosa, Linda. Getting it RIGHT for Young Children from Diverse Backgrounds: Applying Research to Improve Practice. Prentice Hall, 2009.

Check out below for the sources of this blog:

1) Using standards-based curriculum to support language and literacy development for English-language learners.

Presented by:
Min-hua Chen, Education Specialist, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education;
Vicky Milstein, Principal of Early Education, Brookline Public Schools;
Min-Jen Wu Taylor, Pre-K Teacher, Brookline Public Schools;
James StClair, Kindergarten Teacher, Cambridge Public Schools;
Sandra Christison, Kindergarten Teacher, Boston Public Schools.

They haven’t posted their slides yet, but if they do, you can find it here.

2) Home Language or English?  Implementing program policies and teaching strategies that meet the needs of dual-language learners

Presented by:
John Gunnarson, Napa Valley College.

Click here for his handout.

3) Getting it right for young children from diverse backgrounds: Applying research to improve practice

Presented by:
Dr Linda Espinosa, University of Missouri-Columbia.

She hasn’t posted her slides yet, but if she does, you can find it here.

Previous Blogs under the NAEYC Annual Conference Theme:
Part 1:  NAEYC Themes, Part 1: Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s Presentation
Part 2:  NAEYC Themes, Part 2: Build Positive Relationships with Dual-Language Learning Children
Part 3:  Common Theme #2:  Develop meaningful relationships with parents and families
Part 4:  Common Theme #3:  Communication strategies
Part 5:  Common Theme #4:  Support the home language and culture

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NAEYC Themes, Part 3: 10 Ways to Develop Meaningful Relationships with the Parents and Families of Dual-Language Learning Children

Posted by bububooks on December 28, 2009

Another theme that presented itself throughout various sessions at this year’s annual National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference the need for developing and maintaining a relationship with the parents and families of non-native English speakers.  You might think this concept is rather obvious; however, several barriers exist to prevent this relationship from blooming.

Barriers

Oftentimes, there is a perception that these parents lack interest in their child’s education and growth.  However, this perception can often be misguided.  In many cultures outside the United States, teachers are revered and getting involved in the classroom is seen as interfering with the teacher’s expert intentions and processes.  Therefore, parents try to stay out of the way of their children’s teachers.  You see that as lack of interest and involvement; they see it as respect.

Also, the notion of family involvement differs for social classes.  Just because a parent is not at a bake sale doesn’t mean they are not involved in their child’s education.  Work may prevent them from attending; however, they may still be reviewing their child’s homework every night.

Immigrant families also face unique needs than other families in America.  Not only may there be a language and culture barrier, but also family tensions can exist as each member adjusts and adapts to their new life in America.  Their identities as a member of a group before may have now changed to one of an outsider—an “alien”.  Perhaps they were a leader in their hometown and now they are a laborer trying to climb the socio-economic ladder.  Further, they may have to rely on their children as their English improves more quickly, which degrades their role as provider in the family.  These adjustments can cause tension in the family that may prevent as much involvement as they’d like in their child’s education.  Think about the time you studied abroad in college.  Imagine moving there by yourself, without the school’s help, without your host family there to meet you at the airport.  Imagine trying to figure everything out on your own, in a foreign country with a language you thought you could speak. Imagine doing so with your family there too, all looking to you for guidance.  Do you think you could have done it? Perhaps, but with a whole lot of stress involved, too!

For instance, what do the following symbols mean to you (assuming you don’t speak Chinese)? 优, 良, 中, 可,  差。If your child brought home these symbols on their report card, would you know what they mean?  One presenter at NAEYC told a story of how a Chinese father was disappointed in his daughter because she brought home a grade of “S” (for Satisfactory).  He thought grades went in order from A all the way down to Z—because it does seem that way since it starts off A, B, C, D…—and so S seemed pretty bad.  We must remember that nearly everything may be unfamiliar to immigrant families!

The Importance of Developing this Relationship with the Family

The school or childcare center is a key location in cultural transition.  This place may often be the first place children are exposed to cultures other than their own (this goes for all children).  It may be the first place a child realizes he is “different.”  Further, it is the place that will help prepare him to succeed in America.   If there is not enough language support for her to learn, she will associate school as something that doesn’t do anything for her.

Parent involvement is a critical component in a child’s success in school and in society.  We must do what we can to remember that inability to communicate does not mean a person is incapable or uneducated.  In fact, new legal immigrants are as well educated as native-born citizens, on average.  We must discover and overcome whatever may be preventing a relationship with the parents and families and work to ensure they and their children can get the most out of their experience within the American education system.

Immigrant families come to the US for a variety of reasons.  They range from political (refugees facing violence or persecution in their home country) to economic to socio-cultural (i.e. female activists in a Muslim country) to educational.  The fact that they have arrived (remember the difficulty of such an action by thinking back to your study abroad days) shows that they can set a goal and achieve it.  Also, remember that bilingualism is a gift we should not throw away!

What to Do

Remove your preconceptions as I have tried to do here by pointing out examples like studying abroad and different grading systems.  Think about why the families in your center have come to the US.  They may not be willing or able to share right away, but just consider what the possibilities may be.  Think about the type of life they may have led before moving here. Remember, they’ve already demonstrated their ability and willingness to set a goal and achieve it.  Try to find out where the children are coming from.  Get to know their families and culture, patterns of interaction and emotional expression.  Learn from parents and others from the child’s home about their culture.  The children can be the connectors (just remember not to rely on them for translation).  Family support has shown to be crucial in a successful transition.  Remember, it may not just be the parents involved.  Some cultures involve the whole family in child rearing.  You may need to talk to an aunt or a grandmother, etc.

You’ll want to communicate to the parents that they need to speak their home language in rich context and with complex words.  Otherwise, their child’s home language and overall cognitive abilities may be stunted. Remember, learning to read and speak transcends language.  It’s okay—and recommended—that parents maintain their home language.  Thus, collaborate with parents on the importance of developing their child’s verbal skills and thinking in their home language.  Finally, use community collaborators, i.e. parents, community visitors, administrators, consultants and therapists, to help bridge the cultural and language gap between you, your staff and the parents.

85% of teachers in America are white, female and middle class.  Yet, 1 in 5 children in the US are from immigrant families.  On top of that, 25% of the US population is children.  Teachers (everyone) use their own cultural lens to define individual children.  It is almost certain a cultural and language divide will exist!

10 Ways to Develop a Relationship with Parents and Family Members

As discussed in NAEYC themes, Part 2, staff members should model acceptance, respect of and interest in the child’s home culture.  You should first start there and then work to include family members.  Following are some specific tactics other centers have used successfully or that researchers recommend.

1)   Get the parents and children to read together in the classroom.  One center called this “Cuddle up and read”.  During drop-off time, parents sit with their children and read a story in their home language.  Thus, keep books in their home language available in your center.

2)   Schedule readings where family members come in and read a story from their home country to the class. It’s okay if it’s not in English, children will grasp the story if it’s simple enough.  Take a picture of the event and post it in the classroom with other photos of events.

3)   Involve parents and other teachers in selecting literature.  One center shared a story where a child had become withdrawn because she did not see herself as pretty—none of the “pretty” characters in their storybooks looked like her.  Then they read a story in which the main character was the same ethnicity as the child.  The definition of “pretty” changed for all the girls to include other ethnicities.  This child re-engaged and the others wanted to look like this new character also.  A parent had given this book to the center.

Including such books also helps the other parents to understand what’s going on. For example, one center had an autistic child who brushed his skin as part of his “sensory diet”.  When a parent asks their child what they did in school that day, they’ll surely be confused with the child replies, “we helped so-and-so brush.” Parent: ”You mean you helped him brush his hair?” Child: “no, his skin.” The parent may begin to wonder what you are teaching their child! But if the child brings home a book on autistic children, the parents will learn that brushing skin is a therapeutic protocol for autistic children. Such books can help other parents to also model respect and acceptance of others.

4)   Here are some preparatory things teachers have done to foster parent involvement:

  1. Attend ESL conferences at local universities
  2. Participate in community activities celebrating linguistic and cultural diversity
  3. Network with other teachers
  4. Attend intercultural workshops & family/school partnership workshops
  5. Participate in multicultural leadership and heritage language workshops
  6. Participate in international travel to visit schools in other countries

5)   Develop intentional strategies and set goals for engaging the families.

6)   Understand you have a multi-faceted role as a good listener, a mediator between cultures, a source of information for community resources, a facilitator of a supportive classroom, a teacher and an advocate.

7)   Learn about home cultures through local organizations, societies and international offices and student organizations at your university.  Start by searching the internet, too!  Don’t let it be overwhelming, even knowing a little bit will go a long way toward developing a relationship with the parents.

8)   Visit the child’s home and neighborhood.  Observe and talk to them in class to learn more.

9)   Present seminars explaining the school system (with translation services). NEVER rely on the child to translate. It places unnecessary responsibility on their shoulders.  If you can’t afford a professional translator, tap into the foreign language department at your local university. Provide translated handouts.

10) Actively invite parents to meetings and events.  Meet with them regularly and with translation services provided.  Remember, their notions of involvement may differ from yours.  You cannot develop a relationship with them without meeting them.

I know this may seem like a lot to do.  Just remember that as with all children, it is important for you to develop a relationship with the parents.  For non-native speaking English parents, this will require a little more work on your part, but the impact will be immeasurable!

Thank you for reading this far.  Check out below for the sources of this blog:

1. Using standards-based curriculum to support language and literacy development for English-language learners.

Presented by:
Min-hua Chen, Education Specialist, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education;
Vicky Milstein, Principal of Early Education, Brookline Public Schools;
Min-Jen Wu Taylor, Pre-K Teacher, Brookline Public Schools;
James StClair, Kindergarten Teacher, Cambridge Public Schools;
Sandra Christison, Kindergarten Teacher, Boston Public Schools.

They haven’t posted their slides yet, but if they do, it will show up when you click here.

2. The role of play in cultural transition: When the culture of the home differs from the mainstream culture of the school

Presented by:
Leah Adams, Eastern Michigan University
Mary E. Earick, Plymouth State University

They haven’t posted their slides yet, but if they do, it will show up when you click here.

3. Home Language or English?  Implementing program policies and teaching strategies that meet the needs of dual-language learners

Presented by:
John Gunnarson, Napa Valley College.

Click here for his handout.

4. Multicultural programs: Enriching families, supporting children

Presented by:
Rosene Johnson, Michigan State University.

She hasn’t posted her slides yet, but if she does, it will show up when you click here.

5. Taking the pulse of the policies and programs that matter to Latino children and families

Presented by:
Luis A. Hernandez, Training and Technical Assistance Services—Western Kentucky University

He hasn’t posted his slides yet, but if he does, it will show up when you click here.

6. Working with families who have recently immigrated: What teachers need to know and be able to do

Presented by:
Eun Kyeong Cho, University of New Hampshire

She hasn’t posted her slides yet, but if she does, it will show up when you click here.

7. A multicultural show and tell: Exploring children’s literature through culturally responsive teaching

Presented by:
Sherri Weber, Canisius College
Susan G. Popplewell, University of Central Oklahoma

They haven’t posted their slides yet, but if they do, it will show up when you click here.

8. Igoa, Cristina. The Inner World of the Immigrant Child. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 1995.

9. Hernandez, Reyna. Transforming Early Learning: Education Equity for Young Latinos. Latino Policy Forum, March 2009.

Upcoming Blogs under the NAEYC Annual Conference Theme:
Part 4:  Common Theme #3:  Communication strategies
Part 5:  Common Theme #4:  Support the home language and culture
Part 6:  Research, Facts and Things to Know about Dual Language Learners

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NAEYC Themes, Part 2: Build Positive Relationships with Dual-Language Learning Children

Posted by bububooks on December 10, 2009

A Safe Environment
The first common theme I gathered from the sessions I attended at the National Association for the Education of Young Children Annual Conference is that it is absolutely imperative that teachers build positive relationships with DLL children.  Help them to feel safe and included.

Have you ever been in an environment where you didn’t feel safe?  Heard some strange noises at night?  In the car with a reckless driver?  In a heated argument with someone physically stronger than you?  Or how about simply watching a scary movie?

Think about what was going through your head, the first thing you thought you needed to do.  Getting to safety, right?  Grabbing that bottle of mace, getting out of the car, calling the police, covering your eyes and hiding behind the friend sitting next to you. Anything to get you out of that situation. You focused on saving yourself, on self-preservation.

Some of these examples may seem extreme and unrelated to a child in a classroom (hopefully).  My point is that regardless of the situation, when you don’t feel safe, your first priority and thoughts focus on self-preservation, on getting to a place of safety.  The same feelings occur in a child who is in an unfamiliar environment, especially when they cannot communicate in your language.  If you’re in an environment where you don’t feel safe, you close down and only focus on self-preservation.  How can a child learn and prepare for kindergarten if she doesn’t feel safe?

Additionally, behavior issues can stem from this inability to communicate.  Think back to a recent meeting or presentation during which you did not pay attention.  The topic didn’t apply to you. The presenter was wretchedly boring and just kept droning on and on.  Or maybe it was a good presentation, but you were thinking about a looming deadline instead or what groceries you needed to get on your way home that night.  What did you do?  Pretended to listen, nodded in agreement during regular intervals and acted as if your grocery list were really notes from the material?

It’s okay, we’ve all done it!  John Gunnarson from Napa Valley College calls this “procedural display.”  We as adults know how to act like we are paying attention.  Children have not yet learned this technique.  If a child does not speak the language used in the classroom and, therefore, does not understand what is being said, what will he do? Act out?  Pursue activities that are interesting to him?  Can you blame him?  Over time, what message are we sending to DLL children who do not receive enough language support?  We are telling them that school does nothing for them.  Think about the long-term implications for this message.

Thus, teachers should focus on helping DLL children to feel safe and included by building a positive relationship with each one.  If a child feels safe in a classroom, she’ll take risks, like trying a new language.  Would you be more willing or less willing to jump out of an airplane if you were 100% sure the parachute would work?  How about 50% sure?  Helping a child to feel included and valued will encourage her to try new things such as speaking a few words in English.

Cognitive Growth
The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.  In our last blog, we mentioned how Secretary Duncan stated we can no longer ignore the evidence that social development and academic development are “inextricably linked.”  Academic development through social interaction becomes an even bigger hurdle for dual language learning children.  As a teacher, take the extra steps to show—and model—that you value the DLL children in your classroom.

Tips
Now, how do you go about doing this?  Of course myriad of tips and ideas exist.  Here are some general themes to get you started.  The NAEYC Program Standards and Accreditation Criteria state that Standard # is Relationship: 1) Teachers build positive relationship with children 2) Help children make friends 3) Create a harmonious classroom 4) Promote self-regulation.

Another key tip is to value the DLL child’s native language.  Doing so validates them and encourages their mental well-being.  Remember, children don’t realize they are different until they arrive in your center.  The only life they’ve known so far is their home life (or for immigrant children, their social life in their native country too) and that has defined their view of ‘normal.’  By valuing, embracing and including their native language, you tell these children—and model for the other children in your classroom—that they are indeed normal.

Opportunities for language learning exist all day, every day (except maybe nap time).  Every child should have a relationship with an adult.  This relationship not only helps with the feelings of inclusion but also can ensure the child gets maximum language exposure every day.

Finally, remember that the desire to include comes from within.  Ensure you hire staff to embrace diversity, multiculturalism and multilingualism.  If your teachers do not include “different” children, how will the children learn to do so?

Because children are developing language ability in general, consider this phrase: “everyone is an English Language Learner as a child.”  Keeping this frame of reference in mind may help you and your fellow teachers to discover techniques to include, value and develop strong relationships with all the children in your classrooms.

WOW! Thank you for reading this far.  A good chunk of this blog’s material came from three sessions at NAEYC.  They are:

1) Using standards-based curriculum to support language and literacy development for English-language learners.

Presented by:
Min-hua Chen, Education Specialist, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education;
Vicky Milstein, Principal of Early Education, Brookline Public Schools;
Min-Jen Wu Taylor, Pre-K Teacher, Brookline Public Schools;
James StClair, Kindergarten Teacher, Cambridge Public Schools;
Sandra Christison, Kindergarten Teacher, Boston Public Schools.

They haven’t posted their slides yet, but if they do, it will show up when you click here.

2) Home Language or English?  Implementing program policies and teaching strategies that meet the needs of dual-language learners.

Presented by:
John Gunnarson, Napa Valley College.

Click here for his handout.

3) Multicultural programs: Enriching families, supporting children

Presented by:
Rosene Johnson, Michigan State University.

She hasn’t posted her slides yet, but if she does, it will show up when you click here.

Upcoming Blogs under the NAEYC Annual Conference Theme:

Part 3:  Common Theme #2:  Develop meaningful relationships with parents and families

Part 4:  Common Theme #3:  Communication strategies

Part 5:  Common Theme #4:  Support the home language and culture

Part 6:  Research, Facts and Things to Know about Dual Language Learners

Previous Blogs under NAEYC Annual Conference Theme:

Part 1: Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s Presentation

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NAEYC Themes, Part 1: Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s Presentation

Posted by bububooks on December 5, 2009

Before I get to discussing the four themes mentioned in the last post by specifically looking at the various sessions I attended at NAEYC this year, I wanted to dedicate a blog posting solely to Secretary Duncan’s keynote speech at NAEYC.  His passion for early education was very evident.  It seemed clear to me that he was very serious and not just offering a speech that pandered to the audience.  Indeed, he is the first Secretary of Education to ever speak at NAEYC.

Secretary Duncan started off his presentation with a quote from President Franklin Roosevelt: “The destiny of American youth is the destiny of America.” He focused a lot on the issue that has plagued us for a long time: closing the achievement gap that exists before children even start kindergarten.  He referenced President Johnson’s vision to reach a day when “each child goes as far as his talents will take them.”

“Getting out of the catch-up business” represented a central theme in Secretary Duncan’s speech. He spoke of the Department’s development of a birth through age eight plan.  Modern research makes it clear that the most important years of child development is from birth through age three.  Yet our current approach has been to start focusing at age five in kindergarten.  Now the Department is making a major change since its World War I when it added kindergarten to every child’s public school education.  It seeks to align Early Childhood Education (ECE) with the K-12 programs.  Up until now, ECE has been highly fragmented and non-standardized, leading to unpredictable quality and further exacerbating the achievement gap.  But several programs have shown ways to succeed and offer scalable solutions that can be expanded throughout the country.

Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education (along with NAEYC and others in the education field) recognize that care and education cannot be thought of as separate entities in the education of young children.  He stated it’s time we acknowledged the evidence that social development and academic development are “inextricably linked.” As a result, the Department of Education has entered into a serious partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to integrate their foci on early child development and school readiness.

Secretary Duncan presented a huge task that he, the Department of Education, Early Childhood Educators and K-12 educators face today. Finally, though, he is leading the way to face this problem.  He outlined to fundamental challenges that we face in closing the achievement gap that starts before kindergarten.  1) There must be a coordinated system of early care that transitions to the K-12 program. 2) They must accelerate the shift from judging quality based solely in inputs to also basing it on outcomes. Secretary Duncan made sure to insist that inputs would not be ignored because they are important.  However, he wants to add outcomes to be a part of the criteria.

Finally, Secretary Duncan expressed his excitement about the changes underway in early education and child development. He acknowledged that mistakes will be made, but then he said, “I hope we never let the perfect become the enemy of the good.”

I personally was moved by Secretary Duncan’s speech and am excited about this unprecedented attention and energy toward early childhood education.  For the full speech, please visit: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/11/11182009.html

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Themes from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference

Posted by bububooks on December 1, 2009

I attended the annual NAEYC conference just before Thanksgiving in Washington D.C.  I learned a lot more about the strategies, techniques and trends for teaching dual language learners.  I also got to see some friends and make some new ones who are involved in early education.  Moreover, I got to see Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speak live!  Over the next few blog postings, I’ll be recapping some of the presentations I attended.  For this particular posting, I’d like to discuss four overarching themes that seemed to repeat throughout the various sessions.  I will expand on these themes through the specific postings that will follow.

Common Theme #1:  Teachers need to build positive relationships with dual language learning children.  Help them to feel safe and included. Oftentimes, every single thing is new to them since they have just moved here.  Even their parents are stressed as they try to get settled in a new country.  With everything so new and different (read: scary), a safe and inviting environment will help them to open up more in school.

Common Theme #2:  Teachers need to develop meaningful relationships with parents and families.  Parents and families from different countries display their involvement with their children’s education in various ways. Also, sometimes their current circumstances prevent them from being as involved as they’d like.  This does not mean they are not interested.  Furthermore, language need not be a barrier for a teacher to communicate with the families.  These meaningful relationships help to eliminate misunderstandings and further create a safe environment for the child.

Common Theme #3:  Be deliberate, intentional, integrative and committed with your communication strategies.  I’ll offer suggestions in following postings.  But certainly determine what your policy is for incorporating dual language learners and then set about creating a strategy to do so.  This process will include research and can even mean hiring a consultant.

Common Theme #4:  Support the home language and culture.  Dual language learning children do not come to your school as a blank slate. By supporting their home language and culture, you maximize their potential to learn, send them a message that they are not different, help create that safe and inclusive environment, and lay the foundation for a strong relationship between them and their parents.

I look forward to sharing with you specific details from the sessions as well as expanding upon these four themes.  In the meantime, Happy Holidays and don’t forget to check out our bookstore, where all the books are bilingual: www.bububooks.com.

–Laura

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