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There is a great deal of evidence that families play a critical role in their child’s early learning and development. This resource details strategies for engaging families from culturally diverse backgrounds, families with English as an additional language, and families from refugee backgrounds by elaborating on the ‘promising approaches’ outlined in AERO’s family engagement for early learning practice guides (which target early childhood services with 3 to 5 year-olds). 

Context

Although each family’s story and background are unique, this resource offers starting points for educators, teachers and service leaders on how to ensure family engagement for learning through full access and participation for all families. 

Before accessing this resource, take time to reflect on your own cultural and linguistic identity:

  • As part of our own culture, environment or upbringing, we may hold certain unconscious biases or assumptions that influence the way we approach other individuals or groups. 
  • While biases may not always be negative, we do need to acknowledge and be aware of their existence and consider the potential impact these can have on others. 
  • When working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) families, try to ensure you are not inadvertently applying any personal biases and assumptions that might influence how you engage. 
  • Sometimes it may be hard to identify these by yourself, so it can be worth discussing your experiences with your co-workers.  
  • You may consider participating in cultural competency training either individually or as part of your team to learn more about, reflect on and embrace diversity, and promote inclusion in early childhood.
  • For the purposes of this resource and all AERO family engagement resources, ‘families’ includes biological parents, legal guardians, adoptive parents, kin carers and out-of-home (foster) carers.  

Examples of CaLD families

There are many different kinds of CaLD families, including those: 

  • from culturally diverse backgrounds
  • with English as an additional language or dialect
  • from refugee backgrounds.

Promising approaches

Recognising and supporting family engagement in learning at home

Families who feel they are working in partnership with educators and teachers are more likely to engage in practices to support learning and development at home. 

Considerations, strategies and reflection questions

Supporting two-way, positive communication and providing light touch updates about learning and development

Two-way communication has been shown to improve children’s early learning and development. To be most effective, two-way communication should draw on the knowledge and expertise of both families and teachers and educators about children’s learning and development. 

Considerations, strategies and reflection questions

Promoting a literacy-rich environment at home

A literacy-rich environment is where language in various forms (like talking, listening, reading, storytelling and visual arts) is part of daily life. This type of environment allows children to practice their literacy skills often, in functional ways. 

Considerations, strategies and reflection questions

Collaboratively planning and problem solving with families

Collaborative planning and problem solving between families and educators and teachers have been shown to improve children’s early learning and development. It helps to share responsibility for decision-making and learning. It can also ensure that everyone is using a consistent approach to addressing a child’s unique learning and development needs. Collaborative planning could involve service staff working with families and children to identify children’s individual goals (including developmental goals) and strategies for achieving these goals.  

Considerations, strategies and reflection questions

Available supports

Support services exist to support family engagement between you and families from CaLD backgrounds. These services will vary based on your location, but it is important to investigate and be aware of what resources you are able to draw on. Some examples might include:

  • migrant resource services, bicultural support services and services available through local councils
  • interpreting and translating services, including educators and teachers within your service who can assist
  • trauma support services.

If there are educators and teachers within your early learning service who can assist with interpreting and translating, consider whether they are also able to help families to build social connections through their own networks. 

For more information

We have further guidance, including practice guides, case studies:

Engaging with families of children who are in out-of-home care

There is a great deal of evidence that families play a critical role in their child’s learning. This resource details strategies for engaging with families of children in out-of-home care (OOHC) to support children’s learning and development outcomes.

Snapshots of practice

We’ve released case studies looking at family engagement in several early childhood education and care settings.

Family engagement for early learning

Family engagement is important throughout early childhood education and care. There is a great deal of evidence that families play a critical role in their child’s learning and development.

References

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