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Making It Work: Implementing Cultural Learning Experiences in American Indian and Alaska Native Early Learning Settings

teachers and kids playing together

Traditional lifeways, languages, and cultural heritages are important components of young children's school readiness. Making It Work helps American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) early education staff meet these goals as they teach children about their traditional cultural skills, values, beliefs, and lifeways.

Adults have always taught children the skills and values that they need to succeed as adults in their culture. The Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) calls these the "domains of early learning." When early childhood programs connect their traditional cultural skills, values, beliefs, and lifeways with the ELOF domains or state and tribal early learning guidelines, children develop math, literacy, social, emotional, self-help, and other skills.

Making It Work is a suite of products that helps AIAN programs:

  • Connect traditional cultural skills, values, beliefs, and lifeways to school readiness goals
  • Create cultural lessons that engage families and communities
  • Document children's progress using the program's ongoing child assessment process
  • Match children's interests and needs to create individualized lesson plans for each child and small groups

Making It Work Suite

Introduction and Steps to Put Making It Work into Practice for Children Ages Birth to 5

This guide outlines a three-step process to help programs put Making It Work into practice using specially designed forms. It includes instructions, examples of completed forms, and blank forms for programs to use. The three steps are:

  1. Making the Connection. Guides programs as they connect traditional cultural skills, values, beliefs, and lifeways to the ELOF.
  2. Making It Happen. Helps programs create cultural lessons that engage families and communities. It includes information about how programs can use their own ongoing child assessment processes to document children's progress during cultural lessons.
  3. Making It Real. Shows programs how to identify and integrate children's interests and needs into individualized lesson plans for small groups and individual children.

Pilot Study Program Examples
Review examples of the Making It Work process created by the seven AIAN programs that helped develop it.

Coming Soon

How to Bring Making It Work to Your Program

This training guide includes the materials (e.g., agenda, PowerPoint, training tips, templates, etc.) needed to engage communities in the Making It Work process.

Sample Lifeways from the Field

See and hear tribal stories on the importance of culture and language, as well as the implementation of Making It Work, including children birth to 3.

Why It Matters: Culturally Responsive Early Learning and School Readiness

This supplement includes current research and cultural stories to support education staff in meeting children's school readiness goals as they teach their traditional cultural skills, values, beliefs, and lifeways.

Additional Resources

Last Updated: August 3, 2018