Fast 5 Gamechangers for Cultural Connections in Early Childhood Education
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We all know the importance of connecting with young children by understanding who they are and what’s important to them. Real cultural connections for DLLs go way beyond plastic food, flags, or posters about holidays. Here are some ways to make intentional, authentic, personal connections that help dual language learners:
Ask each family to share a photo of what the child ate for dinner last night. This is more personal than a picture of a “traditional” dish from the internet. Enlarge to life-size and laminate it to make pretend meals for dramatic play area, collect in a class made book for relatable vocabulary, science or math learning.
Find out what the family does on the weekend and outfit the dress-up area accordingly. Thrift store soccer jerseys in the right colors, gardening supplies or fishing gear that represent what really happens in the child’s life will show them how important they are as individuals. Catalogs with “multicultural” costumes the child has never seen will not make the connection.
Instead of static posters and displays, try a dynamic videochat so all of the children can meet their friend’s grandparent, see where they used to live or get to know a school in another home country.
Music in many languages is good, but add some personal favorite songs sent in by families to reflect what is really meaningful to their family culture at home.
Get beyond various ‘history months’ and holidays that flare up briefly then go away. If you learn of a great Latino scientist or Black author, save the information to share while doing a science activity or exploring what it means to be an author – at any time during the year. Holidays are visible, but they don’t represent whole cultures or individual families (ex. mother’s day is sad for a child who lost her mom). Instead, ask children and families about celebrations – what happy times do they share and how do they share. That’s real culture!