Literacy and Early Childhood: A Culturally Responsive Program for Mexican Mothers

Literacy and Early Childhood: A Culturally Responsive Program for Mexican Mothers

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9953-3.ch001
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In this chapter, the authors explore the components needed for a culturally responsive workshop specifically tailored to meet the needs of Mexican mothers participating in an early childhood literacy learning after school program in the United States. The impact of visualization, use of videos, and small and large group sharing of perspectives is discussed. In addition, authors provide opportunities for readers to reflect upon the impact of culturally responsive practices and intercultural communication.
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An area of schooling that has received significant attention when it comes to immigrant children and families is literacy, especially emergent literacy. Emergent literacy is a “continuously emerging and evolving ability that results from one's experiences and experiments with language in literacy contexts” (Leu & Kinzer, 1999, p. 81). Effective literacy practices between children and parents is seen as the cornerstone to overall success at school and as necessary for emergent literacy to flourish. Several research studies have noted a significant gap between some Latino children and their native English-speaking counterparts when it comes to emergent literacy practices at home, and when thinking about overall vocabulary learning and growth during the early years. Often, this gap is attributed to the type of verbal interactions and exposure to words Mexican parents provide to their children prior to schooling. Researchers have indicated how vocabulary learning, regardless of the language of instruction, can significantly impact cognitive development due to the interconnections between language and learning (Tamis-LeMonda, Song, Kuchirko, Kalman, & Roufman, 2014). Because language learning happens in a “socio-cultural” context, it is important to keep in mind how “...vocabulary is the product of social interactions in which children are continually exposed to new words and associated concepts” (Tamis-LeMonda et al., 2014, p. 71). Parents play an important role in the type of interactions and exposure to words their children have since “ language input benefits children by promoting growth in vocabulary that snowballs into enhanced cognitive skills in multiple domains” (Tamis-LeMonda et al., 2014, p.85).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Literacy: Ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, compute, and communicate using visual, audible, and digital materials across disciplines and in any context (International Literacy Association).

Early Childhood: School programs for children between the ages of birth-8 years old.

Culture: Values, beliefs, traditions, customs, language shared within a group and intergenerational.

Family School Involvement: Ways members of the family, biological and not, and extended family engage with school activities.

Facilitators: People engaging participants in the learning process.

Culturally Responsive Practice: patterns and conditions that are created in a learning space to incorporate, respect, and value background and various perspectives of members of a group.

Families: Group of people,immediate and extended, that may or may not live under the same roof, caring or expressing a care for the well being of one-another (may or may not be blood related).

Intercultural Communication: Sharing of practices, values, traditions, beliefs, language, perspectives between members of diverse cultural groups.

Community and University Partnerships: Ways community members and universities work together toward a common goal.

Curriculum: Blueprint serving as a guide to design lessons and activities.

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