Saturday, June 16, 2012

Welcoming Families Around the World

This week, the assignment really sparked my interest. Below is the topic:

You are working in an early childhood setting of your choice—a hospital, a child care center, a social service agency. You receive word that the child of a family who has recently emigrated from a country you know nothing about will join your group soon. You want to prepare yourself to welcome the child and her family. Luckily, you are enrolled in a course about diversity and have learned that in order to support families who have immigrated you need to know more than surface facts about their country of origin.

I decided to focus on Russia. I can honestly say I know nothing about Russia, about their culture, about their education and I do not understand their language :). Working at a public child-care center, many different cultures walk in the center and wish for childcare. When someone of a culture unknown to you enters, it is your duty as an educator to learn all you can about said culture so the family feels welcome. As an educator I would prepare myself for the child and his family.

Ways I would prepare:
1. I would research all I could about the culture of Russia. I would see what their day looks like--do they break in the afternoons for a rest? Do they follow certain traditions such as afternoon tea?
2. Are Russian families small? Is the child going to have a mother and father at functions or will he invite his whole family? I discovered that Russian families not only consist of mother and father, but of uncle, grandmother, grandfather, etc. (Master Russian, 2012). As an educator, I will prepare for the many guests that visit the classroom.
3. Although I would be unable to understand their language, I would find a translator so I can ask important questions about the family. I would listen and take notes on their culture so the child would feel respected in the classroom.
4. I would have words in Russian, along with other languages, posted throughout the classroom. This way the child and family would understand what items are represented in the classroom and have the comfort of seeing his written language.
5. I would conduct a home visit so I can see the families culture in the home. I've learned Russians make great hosts, and I will kindly accept their tea, cookie or perhaps even a gift without hesitation or resistance.

By committing to the traditions of my Russian family, I hope the child and family will feel as special as my other children. My hope would be the family would feel comfortable enough to visit the classroom, to allow me the honor of teaching their child and feel respected in the school setting. I wish this for all children, but I think it is so important to honor the children who have come from another country. Their world is different and we need to establish some form of home similarities in the classroom.

Reference:
Master Russian (2012). Russian hospitality. Retrieved June 16, 2012, from http://masterrussian.com/russianculture/russian_hospitality.htm.


6 comments:

Barbara2 said...

Rebekah,
I thought your blog was so interesting. Russia is an interesting country, I have friends who lived in Russia for several years as missionaries. It stretches our minds to figure out how best to make a child comfortable in our classrooms when we do not know much about his country.
Even though food is not considered a deep cultural issue, it certainly is on that can be used as an avenue of approach and communication.
I know that when I lived in Africa, even though I really liked the African food, a piece of fried chicken and mashed potatoes sure felt like home. Like I said, a little hug from home.

Melanie Carridine said...

You know I also chose Russia as the cuntry where my new student would come from. It was a lot of interesting facts that I found about Russian people, and how the family functioned. I found one fact that stated that if you were invited to a Russian Family's home you are always to bring a little gift and if you take flowers never take yellow flowers because they consider that bad luck.

Clara LaPorte said...

Rebekah,
I have a child in my class whose family is from Russia. I learned a lot just by interacting with the parents. My co-teacher and I have birthdays 1 day apart from each other and decided to do a co-celebration with the children on the Tuesday before our birthdays. The mother of the Russian child mentioned that in their country celebrating a birthday early is bad luck. I like your idea of posting multiple languages throughout the classroom, it is important for the child to see his/her home language. And depending on the child's age, Russians learn to read at young ages as the child in my class can already read in Russian! Thank you for sharing more about this culture with everyone.

Julie Rand said...

Rebekah,
I, too, know nothing about Russia. I completely agree with you that it is our duty, as educators, to learn all you can about the family and their culture to make the family feel welcome. It is important to research and know a little bit about hte background country. I think our parents and children can be the best resource for us. Even in the USA, our cultures vary greatly.

Patricia Robinson said...

This was interesting. I think that having a language barrier is huge. A translator, in this case is highly important.

DeWana said...

Rebekah,
I like the fact that you mentioned having a translator. That is important because the children will need to be able to relate and conversate with you. It is important that we make the classroom environment one that is inviting for all reagardless of their origin.