Program Policies that Support Dual Language Learners

Contrary to many of the myths related to Dual Language Learners (DLLs), it has been proven in study after study that learning two (or more) languages in early childhood is actually beneficial to young children. 

In a review of research conducted by Linda Espinosa (Challenging Common Myths About Young English Language Learners), some of the following conclusions were made:

1. All young children are capable of learning two languages. Becoming bilingual has long-term cognitive, academic, social, cultural, and economic benefits. Bilingualism is an asset.

2. Young ELL students require systematic support for the continued development of their home language.

3. Loss of the home language has potential negative long-term consequences for the ELL child’s academic, social, and emotional development, as well as for the family dynamics.

4. Teachers and programs can adopt effective strategies to support home language development even when the teachers are monolingual English speakers.

One recommended strategy for programs includes creating a written policy for support DLLs and their families.  As you work with staff, families, and other stakeholders to create your program’s policy on supporting DLLs, consider the following suggestions:

  • The program will provide forms, information, and other methods of communication in multiple languages.  For examples, see resources such as ECLKC.
  • The program will make every effort to screen and assess children in their home language.
  • The program will intentionally incorporate professional development opportunities related to supporting DLLs and cultural responsiveness.
  • The program will plan bilingual activities, regardless of the presence of DLLs in the learning environment.
  • The program will employ a diverse staff, some of whom are bilingual and speak the home language of the majority of DLLs in the program.
  • The program will create family engagement activities that actively invite all parents to participate.
  • The program will implement the use of a home language survey or other data collection tool upon enrollment.  Information gathered will be used to create a plan of action to support the needs of the child(ren) and family members. 
  • The program will support and encourage families to maintain the use of the child’s home language while the child is also learning English.
  • The program will make efforts to place DLLs in learning environments with other DLLs who speak the same home language (not as an isolation practice, but to reduce the sense of isolation).
  • The program will set aside funds specifically for the purpose of supporting DLLs in the classroom.
  • The program will design outreach programs to attract and enroll diverse families, including children who are DLLs.

Many state requirements  and quality improvement  initiatives have started to include language specific to meeting the needs of DLLs. Be sure to research the resources available in your state to guide your policy making efforts.  More information can be found here.

Engaging Families and Children in Continuous Quality Improvement Initiatives

This month’s newsletter focuses on the idea of creating a culture of continuous quality improvement.  Besides members of leadership and employees, the families and children we serve are important partners on this journey toward high quality early childhood programming.  If you think about it, everything that is done within a program has an impact of families and children, so it only makes sense that we would gather information from them during the process.  This information can inform decisions about areas of opportunity, goal setting, and action planning.

Here are a few ideas for engaging with families as part of continuous quality improvement efforts:

  • Family surveys – It is good practice to gather feedback from families throughout the year in the form of a customer satisfaction survey.  You could choose to include general satisfaction questions on your surveys or customize survey questions to focus on specific areas that you are targeting to quality improvement.  For example, you may choose to send out a survey that focuses specifically on aspects of food service or summer field trips. 
  • Surveys of unenrolled families – It may be possible to gather important information from families who have disenrolled from your program in the past year.  What contributed to their decision to discontinue care for their child(ren)?  You can take this idea a step forward and ask families who toured the facility, but did not choose to enroll, what contributed to their decision. 
  • Child surveys – Preschool and school-age children are quite capable of discussing elements of their experience that could be improved upon.  Engage children during class meetings or meal times to discuss ways they think the program could be better.  You may get some silly ideas, but then again, you may be very surprised by the ideas the children share.
  • Family Committees – Parent representatives acting as advisors on family committees are investing valuable time contributing to your program.  Engage them in the process of quality improvement by inviting them to participate in the steps your program is undergoing. Consider having a few students participate in your family committee quality improvement efforts as well!
  • Engage with parent experts – It’s possible that a few of the family members of y our program have expertise in quality improvement, goal setting, or event grant writing (for those projects that require extra funds).  Reach out to the experts in your extended circle to capitalize on all possible opportunities.

Each of these actions helps build stronger relationships with families, which in and of itself, is an element of quality improvement for early learning environments.

How have you been able to engage families in your program’s continuous quality improvement initiatives?  Share your thoughts on our Facebook page here.

ChildCare Education Institute Offers No-Cost Online Course on Reflective Practices in Early Childhood Education

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers PROF104: Reflective Practice in Early Childhood Education as a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users January 1-31, 2019.

Throughout our busy lives, we all do a lot of thinking. We think about everything from what to prepare for dinner, to what is causing our check engine light to blink, to the conversation we had with a loved one yesterday.  We think when we make lesson plans for our programs and when we make social plans for the weekend.  One of the most important skills required for success in almost any modern career is the ability to think critically.  According to the Foundation for Critical Thinking: “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing,and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience,reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”  This could be simplified to say, the ability to collect and use information in the most effective way, in order to achieve success.

Early childhood educators work with information all day long. They collect information by observing children’s work and present information to children on a variety of topics. They gather and share information through conversations with families and learn new information from professional development courses or college classes.  There is no doubt that childcare professionals have lots of information at their fingertips. The question then becomes, are they using the information in the most effective way,in order to achieve success?  This is where critical thinking comes into play. This course focuses specifically on the skill of reflection. However it is important to note that critical thinking skills are closely tied together. For this reason, you will see references to words such as analyze, evaluate, reason, observation, etc. throughout the course.  There are many ways to reflect on the information we have. Some may be relatively easy to do, while others dig deeper; encouraging childcare professionals to closely examine their professional practices.

The NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct includes a Statement of Commitment that asks individuals who work with young children to commit to engage in an ongoing process of self-reflection, realizing that personal characteristics, biases, and beliefs have an impact on children and families.  In other words, it is a childcare professional’s ethical responsibility to establish a reflective practice.It ensures that they are able to continually provide the highest possible care to the children enrolled in their program. At the same time, it is also important for early childhood educators to model and teach reflection and other critical thinking skills to children. Our society has changed. Jobs of the future will not look like the jobs of the past, or even like the jobs of today. It is our responsibility to prepare students for the work they will be doing when they enter the workforce.

This course provides an examination of what it means to reflect on daily teaching practices and why it is an important practice. The course offers several models of reflection and reflective thinking strategies to help early childhood education professionals establish a reflective practice. Participants will also discover ways to plan for reflection when working with colleagues, children,and families.

“This course will help childcare professionals create appropriate learning environments, engage children in meaningful ways, and improve overall quality,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI.  “Participants will also have the opportunity to reflect on their self-care practices in order to reduce stress.”

PROF104: Reflective Practice in Early Childhood Education is a three-hour, intermediate-level course and grants 0.3 IACET CEU upon successful completion. Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account.Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit www.cceionline.edu or call1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST

ChildCare Education Institute, LLC

ChildCare Education Institute®, a division of Excelligence Learning Corporation, provides high-quality, distance education certificates and child care training programs in an array of child care settings, including preschool centers, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms,nanny care, online daycare training and more. Over 150 English and Spanish child care training courses are available online to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials.  CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition CDA Gold Standard™ training provider, is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training(IACET).