Engagin g g Diverse Families in Early Childhood Education Frances G. Langan, Ed.D. Bernadine Ahonkhai, Ed.D. Learning Flow

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1 Engaging gg g Diverse Families in Early Childhood Education Frances G. Langan, Ed.D. Bernadine Ahonkhai, Ed.D. Learning Flow Family Involvement What is it? Why should Families be involved? Challenges of Family Involvement Benefits of Family Involvement What Research tells us. Strategies that facilitate Family Involvement What steps will you take? 1

2 Engaging Diverse Families in Early Childhood Education How do we define family involvement? How can families become involved? What strategies facilitate family involvement? What are the most effective ways to partner with families? Does involvement influence child achievement? Does involvement decrease with increased age of child? Does SES predict involvement? In what ways can collaborative relationships between families and staff create optimum child outcomes? Changing Characteristics of Children in U.S. Classrooms Increase in the number of minority-group children Increase in the number of children from non-european heritage Increase in the number of children from non-marital households (Hispanics, 40%; African Americans, 70% (Pong, Dronkers, Thompson, 1993) 2

3 Why Family Involvement? Research indicates Family involvement increases positive school outcomes for children, including: Indicators of achievement Development of attributes that support achievement (Self-efficacy efficacy for learning) Perceptions of personal control over school outcomes Self regulatory skills Knowledge (Green, Walker, Hoover-Dempsey, Sandler, 2007) (Henderson, Mapp,2002) What Defines a Diverse Family? Culture Race? Ethnicity Class Gender Sexual orientation Gay, lesbian, transsexual, bisexual Biology Language Age Structure (Turner-Vorbeck, 2005) Two-parent, single-parent, teen parents, adoptive, step families, grandparent, same-sex sex parents, multiple families co-parenting, extended families co- parenting 3

4 Where are you from? Learning Team Exercise: Partner with someone you do not know Take turns in asking questions, respond and tell your story. Questioner records answers on sheet. Take 5 minutes each (Total 10 minutes) Understanding Culture is Important for Involvement Open Dimensions Values Family norms Religion Formal language Social organizations Customs (Schwartz, 1995) 4

5 Understanding Culture is Important for Involvement Hidden Dimensions i Unconscious regulation of daily life Ways in which we talk and walk Facial expressions Thinking patterns Feelings Communication is Key for Family Involvement High Context (apparent in East Asian Americans) Does not rely on clear, exact verbal expression Interpretation of shared assumptions Non-verbal blsignals Situational context (Spinosa, 2010; Kustig, 1999; Korster, 1999; Schwartz, 1995) 5

6 Communication is Key for Family Involvement Low context (apparent in Americans) Very elaborate expressions Requires little situational interpretation (Decker & Decker, 2005; Schwartz, 1995) Considerations in Promoting Family Involvement Awareness of family diversity Increased sensitivity to diverse families Exploration of issues of diversity Reduction of prejudice and bias Responsive approaches (Beliefs, values, preferences) (Bruns and Corso, 2000) 6

7 Motivations for Family Involvement Sources of motivation for involvement: Family role construction and parental self-efficacy efficacy for helping a child succeed in school Family perceptions of invitations to involvement invitations from school positive school climate specific invitations from teachers and children Family life contexts skills and knowledge for involvement time and energy for involvement student age-related differences relative to predicting involvement Role Construction Role activity for involvement includes: Beliefs about what should be done about a child s education Beliefs about child rearing Beliefs about child development Beliefs about appropriate p home construction Experiences and social influences over time (Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, 1997) 7

8 Invitations for Involvement Tied to perceptions of school staff and environment Feelings of value Feelings of being welcome Direct requests for teacher (Epstein and Salinas, 1993) Direct request from child Types of Involvement Home-based School-based Model can be applied to families from a wide variety of SES backgrounds. (Henderson, Mapp; 2002) 8

9 What are the Barriers? Barriers to Family Involvement Family Factors Professional Factors Programmatic Factors (Rockwell, Andre, Hawley; 2010) 9

10 Strategies for Family Involvement Emphasize in-service teacher training in family involvement (Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, 2007) Develop initiatives which increase families interactions with schools (Hoover Implement programs to reduce time and energy constraints Flexible times for teachers and families Suggest time parameters for helping with homework (Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, 2007) (Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, 2007) Eliminate family involvement practices that are not working (Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, 2007) Strategies for Family Involvement Respect the uniqueness of each family (Bruns and Corso, 2001) Develop a personalized relationship with each family (Bruns and Corso, 2001) Communicate in culturally appropriate ways (Bruns and Corso, 2001) Recruit staff who view diversity as an asset (Bruns and Corso, 2001) Create alliances with cultural l guides (Bruns and Corso, 2001) Evaluate process and outcomes (Bruns and Corso, 2001) Develop new understandings about language and culture (Tabors, 1998) 10

11 Communication Strategies for Involving Families (Schwartz, 1995) Communicate a family-centered approach Engaged, clear and empathetic listening Communicate in person, not in writing Examine your posture Be respectful of differences among families Do not interrupt periods of silence Watch for nonverbal cues Provide complete information What is expected/provided regarding involvement? Link involvement to child development and learning Communication Strategies for Involving Families Communicate sensitively (respect, acknowledge, and promote diversity) i Explain that family involvement is a tradition in American education Encourage involvement, do not increase tension Offer a family literacy project to bridge home and school Minimize frustrations that arise from differing cultural perspectives Obtain family perspectives 11

12 Impact of Family Involvement Impact on children Impact on Families Impact on Early Childhood programs Impact on the Community (Decker & Decker, 2005) What steps can you take to maximize family involvement? What resources will you need? Who needs to be involved? How will you assess outcomes? 12

13 Engaging Diverse Families in Early Childhood Education QUESTIONS? 13

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