A good start in school/nursery is crucial in ensuring that children thrive and make the progress that they are capable of. The following points are important
- Make sure families with English as an additional language feel welcome
- Establish home language/s
- Awareness of cultural difference
Welcoming families with English as an additional language
Schools which display information about their EAL learners create a welcoming and inclusive environment. We encourage schools to actively promote diversity and point out the positives of being bilingual. Induction events are a good place to start – we advise that discussion of the positives of bilingualism should start here.
Establishing home languages
Many families are reluctant to disclose that they speak other languages in the home and/or community. It is important that schools embrace bilingualism as positive as this will encourage families to be open and proud of their linguistic heritage and accomplishments. The home visit is an ideal opportunity to discuss and discover which languages are used. Many families may use a range of languages with different family members – the form below can be a useful tool when trying to establish the language profile of an individual child.
Awareness of cultural difference
Language is just one potential barrier for children and families entering an EYFS setting. Many families are not used to children starting formal education at such a young age. Expectations of children vary enormously between cultures – the model of “parent as an educator” can be alien to many families as can the notion that children learn through play. It is essential that parents understand the expectations of schools and that staff also understand these differences. Good communication between home and school can help to ensure there are as few misunderstanding as possible. In some cases, it may be necessary to have an initial meeting with an interpreter.