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