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8.3: Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate

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    Course Competency 8. Develop STEM learning experience plans that promote child development and learning

    CRITERIA 8.3. plan is developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate for the age group.

    Course Competency Criteria 8.3 plan is developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate for the group aligns with:

    the Developmentally Appropriate Practice Area of Knowledge number 3. Social- and Cultural-Appropriatenessusing what is known about the social and cultural context in which children live[1].

    This means: Knowledge of the social and cultural contexts in which children live: [Necessary] to ensure that learning experiences are meaningful, relevant, and respectful for the participating children and their families. (Bredekamp & Copple 1997, 8–9)

    It aligns with the following Head Start Guiding Principles:

    3. Families are children’s first and most important caregivers, teachers, and advocates.

    7. Every child has diverse strengths rooted in their family’s culture, background, language, and beliefs.[2

    Curriculum in Multicultural Classrooms

    The term culturally responsive practices has been used to refer to the implementation of effective teaching practices in diverse early education settings. Culturally responsive practices are teaching to the individual needs of children who are culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse. This term implies the integration of assessment and curriculum practices: program staff must learn about the individual abilities and preferences of each of the children enrolled in their program, and then find ways to plan and implement a curriculum that is based upon each individual child’s needs and interests. For example, teachers can use home visits to learn about the child, to observe ways that families interact with their child, and to begin a dialogue with families about their goals for the child.

    Classroom Materials

    In her 1995 book, The Right Stuff for Children Birth to 8, Martha Bronson offers detailed suggestions for selecting play materials that are safe, appropriate, and supportive of play and development. It is relevant to note here that classroom materials can potentially depict people in stereotypical ways or only contain simplified or inaccurate images of culturally diverse people. Therefore, the challenge is to provide classroom materials that reflect all children, families, and adults in the program, and to eliminate stereotypical or inaccurate materials from daily use. For example, books and dramatic play materials should reflect diversity of gender roles, racial and cultural backgrounds, special needs and abilities, and a range of occupations and ages. Books and environmental print should also represent the different languages of children in the classroom.

    A man with two children who are playing with babies in strollers.
    Figure 8.2: What diversity is represented in this image of children and dolls? [50]

    The challenge for programs is to establish systems and procedures that take the cultural and linguistic contexts of the children into account. Once in place, these classroom materials should be reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure that the classrooms reflect all enrolled children without stereotyping. Programs are encouraged to seek information from families and knowledgeable members of the community for their input in equipping classrooms to reflect cultures and languages in respectful ways.

    Finally, encouraging children’s language and cognitive growth does not preclude the responsibility to support each child’s sense of wellbeing, the formation of his or her identity, and feelings of security. A consensus within the research is that effective environments for children support all domains of development, and that environments associated with learning outcomes should also provide strong support for social–emotional development (Hart & Risley 1995, 1999; National Research Council and Institute of Medicine 2000; Snow, Burns, & Griffin 1998).

    With this in mind, the developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate environment mirrors the ideas, values, attitudes, and cultures of the children it serves (Gestwicki 1995). The following are some specific strategies suggested by Derman Sparks (1989):

    Suggested Strategies
    1. Use images in abundance that represent all children, families, and staff in your program.
    2. Use images of children and adults from the major ethnic groups in your community and in U.S. society.
    3. Use images that accurately reflect people’s current daily lives in the U.S. during work and recreational activities.
    4. Offer a balance among different cultural and ethnic groups.
    5. Provide a fair balance of images of women and men doing “jobs at home” and “jobs outside home.” Provide images of older people of various backgrounds doing different activities.
    6. Provide images of differently abled people of various backgrounds at work and with their families.
    7. Use images of diversity in family styles, such as single mothers and fathers, and extended families that are multiracial and multiethnic.
    8. Use images of important individuals, past and present, and that reflect diversity.
    9. Exhibit artwork—prints, sculpture, and textiles—by artists of various background

    8.3: Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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