Culture & Language

Making It Work: Implementing Cultural Learning Experiences in American Indian and Alaska Native Early Learning Settings for Children Ages Birth to 5

Father with toddler

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

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

  • Implement cultural learning experiences for children ages birth to 5
  • 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

This one page informational sheet explains what Making It Work is, who can use it, and why it is important.

Steps and Introduction to Making It Work: A Guide to Implementing Cultural Learning Experiences in AIAN Settings for Children Ages Birth to 5

This guide offers a three-step process to connect tribal cultural skills, values, beliefs, and lifeways to research-based guidelines, including the ELOF and state and/or tribal early learning guidelines. It also offers instructions and tools (examples of completed forms and blank forms) programs can use to integrate cultural learning experiences into their curricular approach. 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 Program Examples
Review examples created by the seven AIAN programs that helped develop the Making It Work frame.

Now Available!

A Training Guide for Implementing Making It Work In Tribal Early Learning Settings

This training guide helps program leaders and technical assistance staff engage programs in a multi-year effort to embrace, adopt, and implement cultural learning experiences. It includes the materials (e.g., agendas, PowerPoint, training tips, templates, etc.) needed to engage programs and communities in the Making It Work process.

Cultural Learning Experiences in Tribal Early Learning Settings

Read and hear about the importance of tribal cultures and languages.

Additional Resources

Last Updated: November 12, 2019