A family is a wealth of knowledge about their child, what practices they work on at home, and what things are important to them culturally. All of these are beneficial knowledge that is essential for a teacher to analyze to ensure abundant opportunities are had in the classroom.
Some great topics to explore with families are:
- Find out which languages children understand, speak or are learning to be literate in. You can include materials in the languages provided and represent that part of the child's culture.
- Ask families for examples of songs, rhymes and jingles they share with their children and which children who are not yet interested in focusing on picture books at story times enjoy. This can be incorporated in the classroom to provide a familiar environment for the child, and to encourage interaction with the language being learned.
- Keep families up to date with activity in the classroom. Many families want to be involved in their child's education but can not due to language barriers. If any written communication needs to be written in another language, make sure to have that available. Having a translator or assistant available in the school to mediate during conversations may also be beneficial.
- Are any displays in the classroom stereotypical or uncomfortable for families to see? Evaluate what types of items would promote literacy in the classroom and connect culturally to the child.
If you are interested in exploring this topic further, see the information below for a concise description of second language learners in the classroom and how families and teachers can work together to give children a richer literacy experience.
What the Children Tell Us: Policy Implications and Practical Strategies by Claire Kelly