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Articles for Outcome #1

Articles for Outcome #2

Articles for Outcome #3

Articles for Outcome #4

Articles for Outcome #5

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HELLO! I hope everything makes sense. I've mostly just divided everything into the five different Outcomes in the syllabus. I'm not too great with computers! :)

Various Forms of Diversity

Male/Female Ethnicity Religion Family Ethnic Diversity Education

Ethnic Food Sharing Activities

In any classroom, there will be diversity among the children. The teacher's goal is to promote community within the classroom, and a respectful integration and understanding of each others' differences. One way to reach this community is very simple yet effective - food! Eating together as a group forms a certain kind of bond that no other activity can match. Inviting children to learn about their own ethnic backgrounds and bring some food that represents their family's ethnicity and history is a great way to help children understand that we each have different backgrounds but we can all come together and enjoy them together.

Outcome #1: Knowledge of Issues in Facilitating Learning in Diverse Classrooms

"Brown Eyes vs. Blue Eyes" Article (Handout) REFLECTION The town of Riceville is at the northernmost border of Iowa, a state that is just below Wisconsin and Minnesota in the very north of the Midwest Region. Historically, the black population in the United States did not begin in the north, and for the most part even today black populations have not fully integrated with the white populations of northern regions. I grew up in Alaska, where there is a vast majority of white folk, and an incredibly small minority of blacks. (Except, perhaps, in Anchorage - by far the most diverse city in the state by a long shot, and different in so many respects that it really is not even comparable.) I would imagine that in Riceville, Iowa there is still as small a black population as there was back in the 70s and 80s, and probably about the same as there is in Palmer, Alaska. This does affect people's awareness - especially children's - of issues in diversity. If a child does not live in a diverse place, he or she will not have the experiences to understand the harmful effects of discrimination. On that note, I do actually think Ms. Elliott's experiment was a good idea. As one can see by reading the article, from Ms. Elliot's reflections and the testimonies of the children who participated in the experiment, it certainly did influence the students. They experienced both sides of discrimination for themselves, something that they probably had never experienced before. This experiment taught these children (in an unconventional way, no doubt, but arguably effective nonetheless) the ugliness and irrationalness of discrimination and how it can affect people. Ms. Elliot said, "We don't have a 'black problem' in America. We have a white attitudinal problem." I think this is certainly true for the most part, in that historically it has been the "superior" attitudes of the white population that has kept the white-black discrimination issue going for so long. Unfortunately, I think this has also, in some cases, carried over into black-white discrimination as well, which is definitely not helping the problem. Then comes the question that singer/songwriter Katie Melua asks in her "Spider Song": "If a black man is racist, is it okay, if it's a white man's racism that made him that way? 'Cause the bully is the victim they say, but by some sense, they're all the same." Any discrimination is wrong, no matter which race is the discriminator or the victim. Racial discriminatory conflicts have been ongoing probably since the first time two cultures ever came in contact with each other. Even after the civil rights movement and its ongoing progress, such discrimination still exists in America, if on a smaller scale. But any size scale is still a level of discrimination too high for a just, integrative society. I don't know if I would be able to do the Brown Eyes vs. Blue Eyes experiment with little children, but I understand Ms. Elliot's reasoning for it, because I came from a town that did not experience discrimination due to color of skin. (There may have been other forms of discrimination, but more class-based.) This was a way for her to teach the young generations - and older generations, as the years lapsed, apparently - about the effects of discrimination on individuals and on society, and according to Debbie Anderson (former Elliot student), it was a lesson learned that affected her attitude the rest of her life. OUTCOME #1 REFLECTION (see corresponding "Articles for Outcome #1" found to the left of this section) ********* One issue when it comes to diversity in the early childhood classroom is that the teachers themselves are often from different cultural backgrounds than the children. So as many children are moving “from one world to another” (M.W. Colombo, “Empathy and Cultural Competence”) when they leave from home into their classroom, differences are not only between the children but between the teachers and children as well. Still, teachers from differing cultural backgrounds can still provide “culturally compatible” (Colombo) learning environments, if they are educated on the various aspects of the different cultures in the homes of each of their students. Children should learn that every culture has its own strengths to add to the classroom. It is the role of the teacher to model a multicultural perspective and embrace all cultural behaviors and beliefs amongst the children, teaching them to acknowledge and respect differences and learn the importance of integration and collaboration in any culturally diverse situation. Cultural competence fosters broader world views and social perspectives in children, and learning this at a young age will be beneficial to the children throughout their lives in all contexts. It is important for teachers to recognize that there is merit to being aware of cultural diversity. One teacher in the professional development initiative discussed in Colombo’s NAEYC article said, “Children are children.” But viewing all the children in a classroom this way ignores the cultural differences that make each child unique – and therefore, each child’s learning and communication styles unique. In order to honor each child, diverse cultures must be acknowledged and accepted, rather than trying to mainstream children of diverse backgrounds into the majority culture of the classroom. The best way to do this, I think, is through community. I believe that early childhood classrooms should be communities where everyone has a voice, including parents and families. In taking the time to get to know each others’ parents and families, we learn each others’ values and experience each others’ cultures, and that can be brought into the classroom to create a culturally collaborative learning environment. The place from where children in early childhood classrooms establish their sense of identity in a culture is from their homes, beginning in infancy. Naturally, this makes it all the more important that teachers connect with families to share knowledge and experiences that influence the way the children learn and interact. Dialogue and discussion between parents and teachers become central to providing appropriate learning environments for children from diverse backgrounds. As the article from Early Childhood Today puts it, understanding parents’ beliefs behind their actions and requests will help early childhood professionals respect that their motives are just as valid as our own, even if they are different. One good point made in the Early Childhood Today article is that children will learn that care comes in different forms and contexts. In situations where classroom practices and home practices may differ, the most important thing is that the differences are approached with respect and acceptance. Care and education in early childhood environments should be “culturally sensitive”, so the child has the opportunity to keep a sense of identity in their family culture while still experiencing and interacting with other cultures. Parents’ goals and children’s individual personality should both be considered as teachers explore how each child learns, adjusting teaching and classroom practices accordingly. The most important concept in this issue, I think, is that early childhood environments are welcoming places wherein children of all cultural backgrounds are respected and encouraged to maintain a firm identity as they learn to interact with various cultures. A study conducted at Brown University which included children of immigrants found more substantial evidence that children form an ethnic identity at a young age. The older the children were in this study, the more positive feelings about his or her ethnic identity, and the stronger that centrality was. A hopeful finding that came from this study was that a strong ethnic identity is not necessarily related to to prejudices toward other ethnicities, and the children were comfortable with and desired to play with children of different ethnicities. I think this is an encouraging thing for teachers to know - that if we do our job at encouraging acceptance and inclusion in a diverse classroom, we will simply be reinforcing their integrative social skills and multicultural friendships. Assessment is an important practice in working in the Early Childhood Education field. Developing appropriate assessment and evaluation practices is key to improving our early childhood programs and providing quality early learning experiences for our children. As our classrooms become more and more culturally diverse, our need for knowledge become broader: we need to be knowledgeable about various cultures and backgrounds in order to appropriately assess the growth and learning that each of our children are experiencing. And as teachers, we can adapt our learning environments to meet the needs of all of our children. The NAEYC Position Statement on Guidelines for Assessment and Curriculum point out that "assessment must lead to benefits for children, families and programs," and the assessments must be responsive to the diverse cultures of the children and families in the classroom. We must adapt our curriculum, assessments, and other practices within our early learning environments so that they are sensitive to the needs of children of all forms of diversity, whether it is ethnicity, gender, culture, abilities, or socioeconomic status. *********

Outcome #2: Influence of Diversity on Development and Learning

********** Human development occurs within a wide variety of cultural contexts. It is interesting how many different areas of development in young children that culture can affect. The work of Vygotsky had a significant influence in the study of child development, stressing that human development is a “socially embedded phenomenon” (“From Neurons to Neighborhoods”), thus emphasizing the role of culture. Values and personal beliefs have been proven through research to affect human development in the early years. Behavioral inheritances, or rituals and practices that come from culture, are the foundations upon which everyday routines within a family are based. Activities such as sleeping, eating, playing, and other contexts that fabricate cognitive, linguistic, and social-emotional development, consequentially affect the development of certain skills and behaviors. Some researchers connect this phenomenon with values and beliefs; others connect it with behaviors and practices. But perhaps the most accurate perspective is looking at all of these cultural pieces as the roots of this cultural-developmental influence. (“From Neurons to Neighborhoods”) The Neurons to Neighborhoods article focuses on one particularly contrastive example of how cultural values affect emotional and social development. This contrasts cultures that promote individualism vs. cultures that promote interdependence. Individualist cultures raise children to desire to be independent, and to focus on personal goals and achievements and self-fulfillment. This influences the emotional self-concepts of the children, as well as their social developments. Contrarily, interdependent cultures raise their children to understand the importance of social responsibilities to others. These children develop self-concepts that are based on an emotional valuing of achievements of collective goals. Both types of cultures have their merits and their disadvantages, but they each have purposeful goals consistent with cultural and societal values. Emergent literacy is the variety of skills and activities that pre-literate children engage in that may not seem like reading or writing (rather, it’s “reading” pictures, “writing” with scribbling, and the like), but are very important to the literacy development of the child. Successful transition from emergent literacy to fluent literacy is reliant on continous literacy development and reinforcement of literacy concepts at home and in early learning environments. (“Critical Issue: Addressing Literacy Issues of Emergent and Early Readers”) I have learned a lot about emergent literacy in EDUC 479, Early Literacy. Activities that enhance literacy development range from manipulative activities that develop the fine motor skills needed to eventually write, to phonological awareness activities that provide differentiation between sounds, to conceptual development needed for reading and linguistic comprehension. As our early childhood programs continue to become more and more diverse, it is important for teachers and other early childhood professionals to be aware of how diversity affects development on many levels. In an early learning environment that is inclusive and integrative to diverse cultures, children from diverse backgrounds can thrive in their learning and development. In turn, children of other cultures will have their learning experiences enriched by experiencing and sharing cultural differences and their strengths. It is an honorable role for early childhood professionals to be actively involved in the intellectual development of children with diverse backgrounds. ***********

Outcome #3: Analyze Neuro-Science Based Learning re: diversity and DAP

********* There has been much research in recent years on brain development and brain-based research and how it affects young children (birth to three years). Understanding some of this neuroscience can be very helpful for early childhood teachers, in order to provide quality learning experiences in general as well as making sure they are developmentally and culturally appropriate. One of the main principles in brain-based research is that there are significant “windows of opportunity” in the very early years of life. At birth, children have most of the brain cells (neurons) that they will need for the rest of their life, but they have not formed the connections that are required for complex thought processes. Genes decide some of how these synapses and connections are made, but environment is also a significant factor. Interactions with caregivers are crucial influences in brain development. (Making Connections: How Children Learn) The brain is an incredibly complex, intricate, and adaptive system. Neurons generate neural sets throughout daily experiences; neural pathways are created every time the brain is used to think through a problem, but are erased if they are not used continually. This is one foundational concept that is a central idea to understanding why early childhood experiences are so essential to a person’s healthy growth and development. Although brain-based learning is a relatively new and only slightly developed field of study, there are several branches that arise from this research, such as Multiple Intelligences learning (kinesthetic, spatial, musical, etc.). Children are all unique and brains are all unique, but there are most assuredly certain patterns and truths about brain development that apply to every very young child that should be recognized in the practices within early childhood programs. Another interesting concept in brain-based research is that emotions play an important role in learning. When a young child is learning something new, he often becomes frustrated and/or excited, which makes him very involved in his learning. Research has shown that emotions help us in learning by linking emotions and memory recall. If emotions are involved as a young child builds neural pathways, the memory and learned skill or information becomes that much stronger. Content and meaning is more important to the brain than information. On this note, there is also research that shows that the emotions must be balanced – there should be high challenge but low threat. (Jeffrey Lackney) This notion is tied to developmentally and culturally appropriate practices. The early learning environment should be a developmentally appropriate and safe place for the children. Even more so, it should draw on the emotional interest of the children by involving culture and celebrations and rituals. As I mentioned earlier, children are unique and there is a vast amount of variation among individuals in the early years that distinguish human development and learning. Cultural backgrounds also play a role in individual development and learning. Different cultural beliefs, practices, and habits affect the way a young child learns and grows. Quality early childhood programs that are developmentally appropriate are also flexible in regards to the community and the particular children in the classroom. I especially believe that community should be a large part of early childhood programs, so it is consequently essential that the learning environment value and support children and their families, and respect diversity within the family and community. (North Vancouver SD Review of DAP) *********

Outcome #4: Climates That Give Parents/Children of Diverse Backgrounds a Voice

********* Family involvement is a critical part in a child’s quality early education and experiences. It is beneficial for both cognitive and social development. The Harvard Family Research Project (“Family Involvement in Early Childhood Education”) teaches that children need to have a variety of learning supports, including families, early childhood programs, schools, out-of-school activities, health and social service agencies, museums, libraries, and other community-based supports. Linkages between these support systems – especially with families – are fundamentally important. To achieve positive results from family involvement, early childhood professionals must balance children’s developmental needs, parents’ attitudes and beliefs, and early childhood programs’ expectations and support of family involvement. It is important for everyone to have a voice – the teacher, the child, and the family. Parenting styles, which include the attitudes, values, and practices of parents in raising their children, are key factors in family involvement. Nurturing, warm, and active parent-child relationships and parental involvement in school activities is highly powerful in positive learning outcomes in early childhood education. Parenting practices are influenced by cultural contexts – a truth that early childhood professionals must remember in working with families. Culture can affect the level of nurturing from parent to child, as well as the specific activities that are characteristic to a family. It is important for early childhood programs to meet the needs of the children as well as the families. Parents need to play a role in policy decisions made at a program that affect their children, and be part of any advisory groups that make such decisions. (NAEYC: Guiding Principles…) Parents need to feel comfortable leaving their child at the center, and be welcome to participate in classroom activities and visit and help out whenever they want. Diverse backgrounds of families may also affect the needs of the family, and thus the needs of the child, so communication and relationship between parents and teachers is vital. Financial situations and socioeconomic status should also be acknowledged, and programs should be designed to integrate children and families of varying backgrounds. An interesting thing that the NAEYC Position Statement pointed out that will be relevant for me is the practice of using a sliding scale system, so families with varying financial resources may have access to the center. Parents ultimately need to be highly involved in their children’s education and experiences at the early childhood program – a great way to ensure that they will continue to be involved in their education in later years. Many people see language differences and other cultural differences as a hindrances rather than strengths in early childhood programs. However, this is far from true– children are incredibly adept to thrive in environments that are bilingual (even multilingual). I have long felt that America is one of the only countries wherein the children do not learn foreign languages as a requirement in early years, like most of the other countries in the world. Having linguistic diversity does nothing but add to the richness of a learning environment – it allows for more means of expression, and it invites cultures to exist in the same place, broadening the horizons and context of the children’s learning in that environment. It also increases effective learning, because the emotional ties children have to their culture enhances their involvement in their learning. The first step at empowering and supporting parents in program involvement is to have an inclusive, relational attitude from the very beginning. Communicate with parents as much as possible from the time their children are entered into the program. Relationships grow from tiny seeds – such as letting them know that the teachers want the parents to be involved in the program, and educating parents on how important it is to their child’s growth that they be involved. Especially when families’ cultures are different than the teacher’s or the majority of the other families’, it is important to learn about these differences and the strengths within them that can be brought into the early learning environment. **********

Outcome #5: Understand Interagency Provision of Services as an ECE Teacher Resource

************ These are some support services that I can think of for young children and their families that expand learning opportunities: - Schools - After-school sports/summer sports - - After-school music, theater, art programs - After-school science, math programs - Big Brothers/Big Sisters - Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts - Tutoring programs - Quality childcare programs - Camps - Church programs (Vacation Bible Schools, and weekly church activities for kids) - Church family - Neighbors - Grandparents and other relatives - Volunteer ECE pre-service teachers (like me!J) - Community gardens, other community gathering places - Parks - Children’s Museums - Protective agencies (such as Project Safe Place) As the research from this course has shown, combined with research and learning from the rest of the Children’s Studies program, quality early childhood education services have implications for myriad levels. Quality early childhood education services are most importantly and most directly beneficial for the young child, as they enhance learning opportunities and experiences in the early years when learning is in its most critical period. Such services are valuable to parents and families, as they provide support, resources, and knowledge in the importance of learning in the early years. They are helpful for teachers, because they provide a basis of support and collaboration in the professional arena. Quality early childhood services are advantageous to communities in that they offer places for children to exist and to learn, and communities are more educated on the value of quality support for children. Even more so, quality early childhood education services have implications on a cultural and societal level as well. Starting from the child, and affecting the teacher, the family, and the community, early childhood education services come to play a role in the culture of a society. In the future, perhaps members from all of these points of the spectrum will create a culture that cares for kids, like the one James Vollbracht advocates, where people stop at every lemonade stand, give children a voice, and ultimately work together to strengthen the learning and development of each child in each community. ***********

Final Self-Assessment

Self-Assessment Even though I had to take this course independently and miss the classroom experience, I still believe I learned a lot. In fact, I think I learned a lot more than I initially thought I would. The subject matter itself was somewhat new to me – teaching children of diversity. While I have experienced some diversity in children that I have worked with in recent years in New Mexico and Washington, growing up in Alaska I did not experience much diversity (ethnically, at least). I mentioned this in my reflection to the Brown vs. Blue Eyes article in Outcome #1. Except for Anchorage, which is unlike any other part of Alaska, the communities are not very diverse for the most part. Most of the communities are primarily white, and then certain communities are primarily Native Alaskan. There are programs and songs and community activities that bring the Native and Caucasian communities together, but in every day life, at least in my hometown, the culture is predominantly white. Although not in a racist or exclusivist kind of way, just in the out-of-5,000-people-in-our-town-we-are-mostly-all-mutt-Americans kind of way. So the influences and implications of diversity that the research in this course covered was very informative to me. Throughout the research for this course, I learned how cultural and diversity awareness can play a positive role in providing quality early learning opportunities and experiences for children who are living in a multi-cultural world. I believe that it is not only beneficial but crucial to involve parents and families in their child’s education. Communicating with families about their beliefs and practices and coming to understand them and respect them will allow children of diverse backgrounds to feel accepted in the classroom – a place that can very often feel like a different world than home. It is also key to present such an attitude and perspective to the children in the class, so they become aware of the strengths of each others’ cultures, and the power in embracing diversity. One thing I learned from this course that was definitely a new concept to me was the idea that culture plays a role in development and learning. Cultural behaviors, beliefs, rituals, and practices all influence the daily life of a family. This in turn influences development on all kinds of level – social, cognitive, emotional, and physical. It will be important for me as an early childhood educator of children of diverse backgrounds to recognize these cultural differences and how they affect the development of the children and their learning and communication styles, so that I can provide a quality learning environment and experiences for everyone. In regards to brain-based research, I think the most important thing for me that I learned was that emotions play a significant role in learning. Children learn best when they are emotionally involved or connected to the learning experience. Being aware of any special cultural or individual needs will be crucial to me to make sure that the children in my program are emotionally involved in their learning. As I have stated throughout this course, throughout other courses, and largely throughout my senior portfolio – I am already a strong believer in the importance of family and community involvement in early childhood programs. Diverse cultures simply add a wonderful, unique flavor to that key part of quality early childhood experiences. Communication between teachers, other professionals, parents, and communities is important in weaving together support systems, resources, and knowledge bases to create quality programs and learning environments for children. In turn, this kind of web once strong can positively influence our culture and perhaps be a part of creating a more child-centered, diversity-accepting culture. I worked really hard on this class, trying to cover all of the outcomes outlined in the syllabus to the best of my ability, and in the end I found many resources and I certainly gained a lot of valuable knowledge that I will be able to use in my future career working with children. I would give myself a 4.0 for the class.




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Various Categories of Diversity