“Good early child care programs build on what each child brings to the center—in terms of culture, language, and experiences,” says EDC’s Costanza Eggers-Piérola. “But how do non-Latino staff reach out to Latino families? How do they reinforce early literacy skills among non-English-speaking children? How do they attract and support Latino staff members?”
Responding to these and other challenges, Eggers-Piérola has compiled a set of online resources for early child care program directors and staff working to develop quality programs for an increasingly Hispanic population. The Web site, provides access to resource materials, including training manuals, classroom resources, and online courses to help early child care educators develop programs that are culturally responsive to Latino families and children.
The resource list includes materials in English and Spanish, because Eggers-Piérola hopes to reach Latino as well as non-Latino providers. “There are many Latinas working in the profession as teachers, assistants, aides, or home-care providers. They can be a great resource to centers and to families, yet often they are not recognized as an important asset. I want to bring quality resources to this group too.”
The Web site also offers a new publication by Eggers-Piérola called Connections and Commitments: A Latino-based Framework for Early Childhood Educators. The framework discusses early learning strategies in the context of four values that resonate in Latino culture: familia (family), pertenencia (belonging), educación (education), and compromiso (commitment). It is intended to generate conversations among directors, teachers, trainers, and families about culturally and linguistically responsive practices for educating young children. “We decided to emphasize values as a starting point when working with Latino families,” says Eggers-Piérola, “because values are the basis for child-rearing.”
Eggers-Piérola is currently expanding the document into a book-length manual for early child care providers and educators. “The new book will encompass the four values in the framework document but is more grounded in the daily lives of teachers,” she says. It covers hands-on topics, like how to create a welcoming classroom environment for Latino families and how to forge partnerships between homes and school. Says Eggers-Piérola, “You need tools for understanding when working in culturally diverse groups. That’s what we hope to provide.”
Originally published on April 1, 2004