Gigliana Melzi, Adina R. Schick, and Lauren Scarola
All children, regardless of their backgrounds, enter the classroom environment with a set of cultural and communal resources known as funds of knowledge (González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005; Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992). Educators can support children’s learning and achievement by incorporating these funds of knowledge – which include, for example, cultural and familial values and traditions, family activities, and home language – into classroom learning experiences. All too often, however, educators fail to take advantage of these resources, and instead draw on mainstream values, traditions, and practices that have historically been embedded into classroom culture and protocol. Even the most well-intentioned intervention programs seeking to support children from ethnoculturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds typically do so by offering parents training to help adapt their home activities and practices to align with those expected by and supported in U.S. schools.
We strongly believe that for intervention efforts to be effective, they must rely on an approach that acknowledges and integrates the cultural knowledge and resources of children and their families. Building solid home-school connections requires adopting a bidirectional approach – that is, initiatives should also target the school by bringing salient home and community practices into the classroom setting. In this essay, we share findings of an intervention program we developed and implemented to help teachers incorporate Latinx children’s funds of knowledge into their everyday classroom routines. Our program trained preschool teachers to use cultural forms of oral language in the classroom as a way to support children’s reading readiness skills.
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