Across early childhood systems and programs, managers and staff must be prepared to enhance experiences for the growing number of young children who are learning their home languages and English..
Parents and families are key to holding high expectations and supporting home language development for their dual language learners (DLLs). Families can promote positive experiences for these young children by emphasizing their strengths, including cultural and linguistic strengths. They also provide learning supports necessary to succeed in school. These DLL Toolkit resources can assist families in supporting the learning and development of their young children.
Home language support is the foundation for developing English language skills. Today’s early childhood staff must be prepared to enhance experiences for a growing number of young children who are learning their home languages and English. We can promote positive experiences for these children by holding high expectations and emphasizing their strengths, including cultural and linguistic strengths. We also provide children and their families with the individualized learning supports necessary to succeed in school. All early childhood program staff want to understand what young dual language learners (DLLs) need in order to thrive in Head Start and beyond. These DLL Toolkit resources give teachers, caregivers, and family services staff support to foster the learning and development of young children.
Raising Young Children in a New Country: Supporting Early Learning and Healthy Development Handbook.
One-third of the children in Head Start and Early Head Start are dual language learners (DLLs) who are learning English while also learning their home language. Virtually all of these children will code switch. In other words, they mix two or more languages in the same sentence while speaking. It is important that teachers, home visitors, and other staff understand what code switching is, the role it plays in language development, and how to respond to it.
This resource highlights strategies discussed in the Head Start Science Teacher's Guide that teaching teams may use to help children learn their home language in addition to English. Teachers are encouraged to focus on language and literacy skills as integral to the exploration of science topics in the natural world. Specific suggestions from the Guide provide evidence-based practices that are effective for working with dual language learners in Head Start programs.
Dialogic reading is an interactive way to talk with young children. It is a proven approach to increase vocabulary and language development for children learning to speak more than one language. Teaching teams can learn the strategy through this example of its use with "Splat the Cat" by Rob Scotton.
Children make great gains in literacy when they are engaged in conversation before, during, and after storytelling. This dialogic reading strategy is used to increase vocabulary and language development in young children. Teaching teams may use the Tough Boris example as a way to introduce dialogic reading.
Ongoing outreach to recruit and enroll immigrant families is essential, but can be challenging. Family service staff would benefit from the recruitment strategies listed in this article as well as an explanation of some of the challenges immigrant families face. All program staff could benefit from the helpful tips for creating a welcoming environment for immigrant children and families.
Head Start programs are effective when their systems and services support the cultural diversity of enrolled families. Furthermore, individual staff members must be able to demonstrate their respect for and respond to the different cultures in their community and among their co-workers. The following resource provides recent research and perspectives on key multicultural principles and offers guidance to staff on how to implement these principles in their programs.