Family, Culture and Community

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Diversity plays an important role in the classroom and beyond. The influence diversity has in teaching brings about the importance of culturally responsive teaching. For some students, the culture of studies in school that differ from the culture of home and the community can become challenging. As an educator it is imperative that you recognize the individual needs if the students while creating a culturally responsive environment that will encourage them to relate and influences them to engage in compelling learning experiences.
Humans are cultural beings. We learn to communicate and understand our world through the context of our languages, traditions, behaviours, beliefs and values. Our cultural experiences and values shape the way we see ourselves and what we think is important. When individuals are part of a cultural group, we learn the ways of that culture (e.g., behaviour and beliefs), which enable us to feel like we belong to our community. Cultural perspectives also in uence how we parent, how we understand children, how we help them grow up and how we teach them new skills. (Kids Matter, n.d.)
We believe in the importance of promoting quality early learning environments for children that are culturally and developmentally appropriate. Research suggests adults who engage children in culturally responsive educational experiences help to:
· Build young children’s self-confidence and skills
· Increase children’s awareness, appreciation and inclusion of diverse beliefs and cultures
· Maximize children’s academic achievement and educational success (Nebraska Extension- Early Childhood Development, n.d.)

What can I do to support children’s social and cultural development?
Create culturally responsive activities: Intentionally promote and encourage cultural diversity with young children by creating a multisensory environment where they can speak, touch, taste, see, and feel their culture and the culture of others. For example, help children “see” culture and encourage early literacy by using mirrors to engage infants and toddlers in baby talk as they explore the physical characteristics and differences among themselves and others. Label objects or areas in the educational environment using multiple languages, including sign language. If only one language is spoken in your classroom or home childcare setting, consider the languages spoken in the larger community.

Learn from families: Partner with families to better understand their family structure and culture. Set up multiple ways to learn from families such as:
• Diverse communication methods: When asked for suggestions on effective ways to communicate, parents in the study shared their preferences for teachers to just ask them what’s the best way to connect with their family. Parents suggested diverse methods such as texting, phone calls, face-to-face conversations during pickup and drop off, and two-way folders. Two-way folders are a form of written communication designed for parents and teachers to share back and forth what the child is learning both at home and school. The two-way folder can be shared daily or weekly. Two-way folders are a great way for parents and teachers to collaborate to support the learning goals of the child in both settings.
• Family nights and home visits: One way to learn more about the culture and family experiences of children in your program is to have scheduled opportunities throughout the year to bring families together to learn and explore cultures represented in the program and community.
Use your resources: Sometimes it can be overwhelming as a teacher to know where to begin to integrate cultural diversity for young children. Therefore, starts with the resources right in your early care program (University of Nebraska Lincoln, n.d.).

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“The family is profoundly important to the developmental, emotional and cognitive growth of a child,” says Tamara Gold, a New York psychotherapist and parenting coach. “A child will learn about relationships, manners, self-esteem, worth and loyalty, all by watching and participating in family.”

Resources:

Kids Matter. (n.d.). Retrieved from Austrailian Early Childhood Mental Heatlh Initiative: https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/sites/default/files/public/KM%20C1_Cultural%20Diversity_Culture%20Matters%20for%20Development.pdf

Nebraska Extension- Early Childhood Development. (n.d.). Retrieved from University of Nebraska-Lincoln: http://child.unl.edu/cultural-diversity

University of Nebraska Lincoln. (n.d.). Retrieved from Culture Matters — Strategies to Support Young Children’s Social and Cultural Development: http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g2241.pdf

 

Biological Beginnings

Beginnings

Every baby that is conceived is given a set of genetic instructions that determines their characteristics as well as physical features that they take with them through birth and as they develop. Many of these characteristics are determined by genetics, which is also called canalization. Factors that are not canalized are those that are experienced and learned. Although genetics reign supreme in a child’s development, characteristics may be altered and enhanced by environmental factors that include schooling, the neighborhood in which the child lives, social interactions, and physical experiences.

Below, you will be able to see the three trimesters a woman and the unborn baby goes through during pregnancy.

First, Second, and Third Trimester

First Trimester:
• First three months of pregnancy.
• During the first two months, the egg gradually transforms into an embryo.
• The third month begins the fetal period. The vocal chords appear and the digestive system and kidneys start to show signs of activity.

 

Second Trimester:
• The fourth through the sixth month of pregnancy.
• At five months skin structures and the fetus becomes lean and wrinkled.
• During the sixth month, eyelids open and eyes are completely formed.

Third Trimester:
• The uterus is carrying the baby by now, including the placenta and amniotic fluid.
• During the last two months, the fetal heart rate becomes rapid.

This video will show you the amazing process of the fetus growing in the womb

https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DW_twYPeBSRg

Oral Language Development

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Some of us believe that children learn oral language by imitating adults.  And this concedes with the Behaviorist Theory which was developed by Skinner (1992).  The theory states that children imitate adults and are motivated to use language.  Also, that language and thought are initialized through interaction.

However, there are other theories that help us understand better language development in children.  For example, the Nativist Theory, the theory states that language is innate and that children figure out how language works.  The theory says that language growth depends on maturation.   As a mom of three kids, I have seen how language progresses with children and how it goes from “babbling” to simple words to more complex sentences.  This just makes me wonder how complex language development is and when is it developed?

We all have heard that reading, playing music and speaking to our babies even in the womb is a great habit to create.  There is no doubt that children are being exposed to language even the in womb.  According to research, right after birth babies are drawn to the mother’s voice instantly.  Mother’s voice tends to sooth a crying baby.  Bring comfort in the middle of the night.  But why is it that babies are drawn to the mom’s voice?  This question we will explore it in a different blog.

So what does research says about language development….

According to research, children start developing language quickly, right after the babbling stage, between 1 and 4 years old children gain an average of 860 root words per year, which is about 16.5 words per week that breaks down to 2.4 words per day.   This information is amazing!  Therefore, what harm can we cause to our children if we spoke and read to them consistently?  I believe that by talking all the time to our children we could prepare them to be great readers.

If you like more information on oral language development watch this documentary “Why We Talk”  http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/why-do-we-talk/

Resources:

http://readingrockets.org/article/taking-delight-words-using-oral-language-build-young-childrens-vocabularies

Oral Language Development, Dr. Mary E. Dahlgren, 2008

Early Childhood Physical Development

Early Childhood Physical Development

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The first three years in life are characterized for all the changes in the children’s physical abilities.  How can we help support the physical development in children?

Infants:  during this time, babies need Tummy Time to develop chest & arm strength.  How can parents and caregivers can help babies develop chest and arm strength?  By providing babies with adequate tummy time and by placing interesting toys within arm’s reach of the child.

Toddlers: get ready to move with those toddlers!  Toddlers are filled with energy and always on the go.  Caregivers and parents can help children develop those big muscles by providing lots of opportunities for toddlers to move freely.  Taking toddlers to the park walk in different terrains can help them develop those strong legs.

Middle Childhood: Children at this age are very independent when it comes to their physical movement, coordination and stability continue to improve with time.  During this time, must children have mastered their fine motor skills.  Children are able to hold a pencil and draw simple shapes and letters.  Also, children are able to jump, skip and run with ease.

Early Adolescence:  During these period, children’s bodies go through many physical changes.  Such as growth spurts, for some parents it seems like their children grew over night; this is not far from reality.  So what can cause these overnight growth spurts?  They can depend on genetics and nutrition.  Children that are malnourished might not experience the growth spurts as a child that has proper nutrition.

Resources:

http://www.gracepointwellness.org/462-child-development-parenting-early-3-7/article/12755-early-childhood-physical-development-gross-and-fine-motor-development

https://www.verywell.com/physical-development-in-childhood-2795117

http://www.parents.com/kids/development/physical/