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Supporting parent engagement in linguistically diverse families to promote young children's life success


Parents' central role in their young children's learning and development is evident in a wide range of parenting behaviors. Some of these behaviors are embedded in daily routines, such as parents' responsive verbal play with infants and toddlers during bath time and conversation with preschoolers while preparing dinner. In other instances, parents engage in highly intentional efforts to help children learn, as when they explain the meaning of words while reading a storybook or when they help a child practice counting. The interactions parents have with the adults who care for and teach their children in child care and early education settings can also influence children's development. Through these interactions, both parents and caregivers can learn about ways to support children's learning in light of their individual needs and circumstances. A large body of research shows that varied forms of parent engagement have a positive influence on development, early learning, school readiness, and long-term educational success of all groups of children, including those from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. This paper provides a general review of research that can inform policies aimed at building the capacity of early care and education programs to promote parent engagement in linguistically diverse families. The term, "parent engagement," as used in this paper, refers to two types of activity: 1) parents' nurturing, responsive interactions with their children, at home and in the community, that help children acquire competencies they need for school and life success, and 2) interactions parents have with providers in early care and education settings that help both parents and providers promote children's learning and development. Linguistically diverse families are those whose home language is not English and whose family members may have varying degrees of proficiency in English, including limited English speaking and reading skills. (author abstract)

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