Early Childhood Studies – a Global Perspective

Exploring the concepts on early childhood studies through the lens of people across the globe

Welcoming Families from Around the World

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Being familiar with a place usually stems from what you hear in the news, people’s conversations about their travels, people you meet at work, as castle-861015_1280well as tourism advertisement. By far, Estonia is a country that does not seem to be commonly mentioned within the range of news that I hear and read about as well as the stories from travellers with whom I come across. Having the opportunity to work with families from different places, I have not met one from this place. Thus, I choose Estonia to feature in this blog as a family to know and work with.

Estonia is located in Northern Europe. It is South of Finland, facing the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland. It is composed of 1,500 islands and populated by 1.325 million residents as of 2013. The country gained independence from Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Russia in 1918 and again regained its impendence from Russia in 1991. Reading more about the country’s GDP, fertility rate and government system still would not enable me to uncover the surface of who the family I am working with. To know an individual or a family requires a depth of knowledge about the family culture – their beliefs, practices, attitudes and experiences they come with. As well, the family culture is not a whole representation of the presence-904565_1280child’s identity. Thus, the child’s unique personal identity must also be learned. To effectively work with the child and the family, there are certain factors that need to be considered and looked into.

  1. Get to know the child and his/her family not only through a piece of paper.

Although it is a good start to find pertinent information about the new family through a questionnaire to gain surface insight about them, I have to conscientiously be aware of my conversations and other forms of interaction to build upon my knowledge about them. I have to see, feel, and hear the child.

  1. Establish an effective means of communication.

From the start, I will consult the family how best we can exchange communication. Through this approach, there will be bilateral means of exchanging information in order to avoid assumptions and judgments. Having a platform to express themselves also assures that they have a voice in the program.

  1. Establish trust and respect through transparency.

By inviting the family to be a part of the program, allowing them to participate in ways that would empower them as collaborators in the education of their child, the family learns more about the program and the new environment with which their child is a part. This provides opportunities to become aware of their similarities and differences with all the other families. Recognizing these is a start to build trust and respect for others who may be different from them.

  1. Create an environment where the child and the family would feel that they belong.

community-909149_1280Displaying the work of the child, as well as other symbols that represent the child and the family’s personal and social identities make them feel that they are part of the group. It affirms and validates the culture that they bring with them.

  1. Establish and maintain a relationship.

Welcoming a new family does not end with provisions of materials and handouts that would acquaint the family about the program. Neither it is limited to scheduled parent and child conferences only. As Diffily and Morrison (1996) write, “a strong home-school connection is essential when building a good environment for young children.”

Through the approaches mentioned earlier, I am hoping that I am able to scratch the surface to know and understand the new child and the family that I work with. The symbiotic relationships between the child, his or herplanning-620299_1280 family and the program staff would help in recognising the differences between the two environments – home and school, so that differences can be tolerated, and have the flexibility to compromise when necessary in order to serve the best interest of the child.

References:

Diffily D. & Morrison, K. eds. (1996). Family-Friendly Communications for Early Childhood Programs. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Washington, D.C.

“Estonia.” Cities of the World. 2002. Retrieved December 11, 2015 from Encyclopedia.com:http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3410700124.html

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Author: pamcee70

My name is Pam Castillo. I have been in the field of education for 24 years now. Although I have taught some levels in grade school, I have spent most of my years teaching children aged two to six years old. I am always amazed by the interactions I have every day with children. In an environment where children feel safe, they are confident to explore and make discoveries. These experiences prepare them for the bigger challenges in the future. I feel privileged to be a part of the learning journey of these young children especially if they still come to see me and reminisce the years we worked together.

5 thoughts on “Welcoming Families from Around the World

  1. Hello,

    I like how you mentioned that you would like to get to know a family not just from a piece of paper, but on a personal level. I agree with you that it is so important to get to know the families as well as the children that we work with. This year, I have a student that is just beginning to speak English. It was a struggle for her, the classmates, and myself. I have to keep reminding myself that she is doing her best. When she has behavioral issues I have to ask myself if it is a misunderstanding or on purpose. It is interesting because she does have a lot of clearly purposeful behaviors and her parents even told me that. I am hopeful that she continues to learn and grow at this pace throughout the year.

    -Siera

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  2. Hi Pam,
    I enjoyed your post, you are on top of the situation. You have covered all areas. Yes, we all should be very aware of our conversation even with our well known American group of kids. By giving the family a voice and allowing them to give their input will surely help them to feel welcomed and in control of their child’s education. I also think it is clever to display the child’s work in both English and in their native language, this is extremely respectful to the family’s culture.
    Darlene

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  3. Developing an established means of communication is important for any family a part of your educational program but in regards to this particular family, it is as more important as ever. This is a big change for the family and would serve them well to have a well prepared educator like yourself. Communication with the family is the key to the success of the student and reaching his educational goals. Good Post…

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  4. Pam, it’s all about forming those crucial a trust relationship isn’t it? I have enjoyed the way in which all the courses that we have studied so far in this program all seem to overlap. Can you remember when we did all the studies on bridging the gap between home and school in order for a child to flourish in an early childhood setting? How much more so for a child who come from a different culture than the dominant one. Thanks for all the extra info!

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  5. Hello,
    I like the fact that you mentioned all ways you would be prepared for welcoming the family. I also enjoy reading and knowing about other countries and especially the culture. When I was reading about Kuwait and learning that they are made up of two known other countries it made me feel good that the poverty level is not so high. I enjoyed reading your post and thanks for the insight!!

    Kim

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