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“We feel connected… and like we belong”: A parent-led, staff-supported model of family engagement in early childhood


Cultural misconceptions and hierarchical power structures often preclude educators from accessing potentially powerful information about home-based practices and routines, families’ experiential knowledge, and other aspects of children’s out-of-school lives. Such information-seeking attitudes and practices could form the basis of engaging and meaningful family engagement programming, as well as translate into culturally-sustaining curriculum that reflects children’s everyday lives in the classroom. By disrupting the existing power structure, seeking to cross cultural boundaries, and framing family engagement as emphasizing information flowing from the home to the school, Head Start staff and parent leaders, as illustrated in the description of this pilot program, made a shift in their expectations for how families can contribute to their children’s school readiness and success. They sought to build a culturally inclusive and welcoming environment for all. This paper will describe their work together for the benefit of other early childhood practitioners who seek alternative ways to engage with families. (author abstract)

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