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Teachers, Caregivers, and Family Service Staff Support Children Who Are Dual Language Learners

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.

Importance of Home Language

Discover basic strategies teachers, caregivers, and family service staff can use with young children and their families to support home language development. Research indicates that supporting bilingualism from early ages can have wide-ranging benefits, from cognitive and social advantages early in life to long-term employment opportunities and competitiveness in the workplace later in life.

Science to Practice

Explore the latest science around dual language learners' (DLLs) linguistic development. Learn ways to support DLLs in the first five years. Each brief contains a discussion of recent bilingual research. They also include tips that teachers, caregivers, and family service staff can use to build on DLLs' skills.

Support Learning English

Strategies for Caregivers and Teachers: How Caregivers and Teachers Support

Specific Strategies to Support DLLs When Adults Do Not Speak Their Language

Find tips classroom staff and home visitors can use when they do not speak the languages of the children in their care:

Professional Development

This series of resources provides general cultural information on various refugee and cultural groups new to the United States. It is always best to get to know each family and learn their individual characteristics, as every family is unique and cultural practices vary by household and by generation. These resources provide basic information to help staff begin discussions with families and communities.

Ways to Use Cultural Backgrounders Use this tool to assist programs in making use of the four Cultural Backgrounders. It provides basic information to help staff begin discussions, relationships, and partnerships with immigrant and refugee families from Burma, Iraq, Somalia, and Eastern Nepal (Bhutanese). Also available in Spanish (español)

Bhutanese Refugee Families | Spanish (español)

Refugee Families from Burma | Spanish (español)

Refugee Families from Iraq | Spanish (español)

Refugee Families from Somalia | Spanish (español)

Raising Young Children in a New Country: Supporting Early Learning and Healthy Development This handbook provides families with information on six themes: family well-being, health and safety, healthy brain development, early learning and school readiness, guidance and discipline, and family engagement in early care and education. Programs serving refugee families, newly arrived immigrant families, and others may use this resource with parents to help ease their transition to a new country. Available in Arabic (العربية) and Spanish (español).

Ways to Use the Handbook Ways to Use Raising Young Children in a New Country: Supporting Early Learning and Healthy Development Handbook is a tool designed to support Head Start and Early Head Start, Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS), Refugee Resettlement staff, and other early care and education providers in using and applying concepts from the Handbook. It includes staff self-reflection activities, team planning strategies, and approaches to family engagement. Available in Arabic (العربية) and Spanish (español).

Connecting to Early Care and Education


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Last Updated: July 16, 2018