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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014
6 To explain the model of language and literacy development used in this article, I refer to the model created for the Queensland Kindergarten learning guideline (2010) and designed to support educators working with children aged 3 to 5 years (see Figure 1). Based on Bronfenbrenner's ecological model of developmental processes, this holistic socio-cultural perspective of language and literacy development identifies a set of interconnected factors. These factors include the importance of the educators' role, which involves: • participating in critical reflection and keeping abreast of current research; • building positive relationships with children and families; • engaging children in rich conversations and meaningful learning experiences; • creating inclusive learning environments that promote language and literacy development through play; • facilitating learning through a range of intentional teaching strategies that draw on children's strengths, interests and competencies. Figure 1: A conceptual framework for supporting language and early literacy learning and development So how can educators explain this conceptual model of language and literacy development to parents and community members? By developing a plan that involves 3 steps: 1. critical reflection, 2. discussions with parents and community members, 3. a balanced approach to language and literacy learning. As a starting point begin with critical reflection. Rather than trying to 'educate' parents, the following questions are designed to aid reflection. Step 1: Engage in critical reflection • How have I engaged in critical reflection in the last twelve months? When did this happen, who was involved and where did this take us? • When was the last time I read a professional article about language and early literacy development? What perspectives was the research based on and what does this offer me in terms of current practice? • What opportunities am I creating for children to demonstrate their language and literacy skills? How would this be evident in the organisation of the physical environment, and in my interactions with children and families? • Where is the evidence of literacy and language development goals in my planning and documentation? • How do I celebrate and build on the diversity of language and literacy experiences children bring to the centre? • How do I currently talk with families about supporting language and literacy development? Is the information shared current? What might need revisiting? Engaging in critical reflection is an ongoing process and an important aspect of professional growth. It assists educators to understand what informs their beliefs and how this shapes their practices. Step 2: Talk with parents not to them Share your practices and knowledge without defaulting to a kind of 'eduspeak'. By this I mean avoiding educational jargon, and the need to educate parents. I have never met a parent who didn't want their child to become literate. However, as an experienced educator and as a parent, I recognise that a parent's time, energies and attentions are in constant demand. This means that parental priorities, and what it is possible for parents to do will vary. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, with parents generally doing the very best they can, at any given point in time. Talk with families about what is happening in your centre and share ideas and information in ways that all families can access. Demonstrate sensitivity in your approach, recognising that some parents, for example, will find lengthy newsletters challenging because of language or literacy barriers. Be clear and concise in what you mean, and say, and write, and incorporate a range of strategies for communicating with parents. Recognise that differences in cultural and social experiences influence beliefs and priorities and shape the way that different people view the world, and that parental views that differ to your own are not deficit views, they are simply different. Treating this as a strength, opens up many more possibilities for ways of working with children and families. Child Family Community Inclusive learning environment Rich conversations and interactions Supportive partn erships with children and families Image of the child Teacher's role Abilit y to articulate beliefs, practices Int erntional teaching princ iples and practices Professional knowledge about: children's learning and development, language development and early literacy Working de nition of early literacy Re ective practitioner
Issue 56 Spring 2014
Reflections Magazine Issue 54