Before starting at a kindergarten
INTERCULTURAL EXPERIENCES: PARENT-EDUCATOR PARTNERSHIP SOLUTIONS
Educators meeting with all families together (without children) – Introduce educators, room, rough weekly schedule, outlook for upcoming years, etc. Parents introduce themselves to each other.
Settling in talk/home visit with all families separately (with children) – Talk about specific details/behaviours/routines/allergies/diet. Ask about experiences and if certain things differ in execution to what the family is used to, explain settling in process, prepare parents for challenges that might occur, but encourage them to work hand in hand with you in a strong partnership.
Preparation - Research information about their country, customs, and religion. Seek help from colleagues and leadership in case they have worked with the same or similar cultural family backgrounds before. John could have used the meetings and conversations prior to settling in to ask all families to send in a picture of their flag.
Learn about where they come from, their background, and their expectations. To show his respect for different cultures and backgrounds, John could also ask the families to talk about their culture and explain a little about it to him so that they know he sees and accepts all cultures. He could even invite them in to share aspects of their culture as part of a “cultural curriculum.”
Explain what the kindergarten is doing, what goals the group has, its vision, daily routines, and background of the group.
Find common ground with each other and see where mutual understanding can be found
Meet the child and spend time together (most likely during settling-in).
Explain to the families how the team deals with situations and ask the same of how they provide comfort at home without giving advice
Another way to avoid John’s situation is to have an assignment for the children to do with their parents where they “make (draw, create in some way)” a flag of their culture, and this gets put up in the classroom. This way, John is not responsible for making a mistake of forgetting or not being aware of the family’s culture. He shows how important he thinks it is and makes it a collaborative experience for the child and parent to work on and share together.