Incorporating Hispanic Culture in an Anti-Bias Classroom

1 January 2017

The culture I chose to explore is the Hispanic culture. The term “Hispanic came from the United States federal government in the 1970’s to group a large but diverse population to connect the language and culture from a Spanish-speaking country. Hispanic is not a race but an ethnic classification (Understanding the Hispanic Culture, n. d. ).

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The Hispanic culture has a wide ancestry which includes Spanish, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central and South American regions. Over the past thirty years the Hispanic population has had a tremendous rate of growth in the United States (Clutter, n. d. ). The Hispanic culture is often misunderstood or misrepresented as having stressful financial issues or poor education. The important aspect of their culture that is being ignored is the importance of family values, which is a large part of a traditional Hispanic family. The environment of our classrooms can convey a message to children and families.

The arrangement can affect children’s behaviors, attitudes, and learning. As early childhood educators we want to convey the message that we are a culturally relevant and anti-bias classroom. One way to convey this message is through bulletin boards and visual displays. Visual displays should match, reinforce, and expand the materials and learning that takes place in each of the interest areas (York, 2009). An example would be cultural works of art in the art center and pictures of different types of houses and environments in the block area. It is best to avoid cartoon figures or animals dressed in ethnic costumes.

Photographs of children and their families would be appropriate. Another way to enhance culturally relevant learning is through the use of multicultural children’s books. Literature can be a powerful tool to convey the importance of cultural diversities to the children. Teachers must choose books that meet the goals for a culturally relevant and anti-bias education. Teachers must also consider the importance of heritage of the families in the classrooms. In the Hispanic culture the family unit is larger than in some other cultures; their culture includes the parents, children, and the extended family. Family ties run strong and deep.

Individuals within a family have a moral responsibility to aid other members of the family experiencing financial problems, unemployment, poor health conditions, and other life issues (Clutter, n. d. ). Hispanic families have great respect and honor within their families. Hispanic families instill in their children the importance of honor, good manners, and respect for authority and the elderly (Clutter, n. d. ). Preserving the Spanish language within the family is a common practice in most Hispanic homes (Clutter, n. d. ). The Hispanic families value tradition and family, respect, sacrifice and hard work.

In most Hispanic households the religion basis is practicing Roman Catholic. The men take the lead of running the household and any concerns or issues for their family. The women are responsible for running the house and raising the children. They are self-sacrificing and religious. Motherhood is a role to take great pride in and a mother is expected to sacrifice for her children and take care of the elderly relatives. The Hispanic culture feels it is disrespectful to break the chain of hierarchy. The Hispanic culture takes great pride in appearance and considers it a sense of honor and dignity.

The traditional Hispanic clothing is brightly colored, as well as their homes. Time is something that is considered flexible; it is disrespectful to arrive on time. It is acceptable to arrive at a gathering or celebration thirty minutes late. As teachers we have to keep this in mind when it comes to our educational setting. There may be times that we have to encourage but yet be understanding with the families. When incorporating the Hispanic culture into an anti-bias curriculum and multicultural environment it is the teacher’s responsibility to educate them, respect the children and the families.

Teachers and staff must respect the culture, religion, and the traditions of the family. It is important for teachers to share the Hispanic culture and teach them about it as well. Teachers can use a variety of tools such as display photos, bulletin boards, posters, signs, literature, toys, music, food experiences, etc. within the classroom. Celebrate the Hispanic culture and take part in Mexican fiestas and holidays, such as Cino de Mayo. Preserving the language in the Hispanic culture is important. Language is vital to a child being able to receive information and express their selves. “Language is he communication tool we use to organize and express our thoughts, experiences, feelings, wants, and needs. Children learn naturally through interaction with their family, friends, and community. By age five or six, most children are able to speak clearly and accurately…Language is important in all aspects of the development of the child” (York, 2009). It is important to keep in mind how many of the child’s waking hours are spent with their early childcare provider. The opportunities or lack of are defined often with this person. Second language learners have many challenges that they may face.

Although, the second language is learned primarily the same structure of the first language, how the teacher approaches the student or child will have a large impact on the child’s abilities to be successful. And, what is successful to a child and their family. The teacher may use additive, to add the primary language and encourage keeping their first language. Or, the teacher may approach the learning with a subtractive point of view and try to replace the child’s first language. If we are trying to replace a child’s language, which is part of their culture, what message are we sending the child and their family members?

Then so we teach a child in the sink or swim method of submersion? In other words get it or fail. The child may feel disconnected to the rest of their peers and fall behind in all subjects. “There are at least six different teaching strategies used in a dual language approach…Translation…translates everything.. Preview-Review.. begins.. in the child’s home language.. proceeds in English.. concludes in the child’s home language.. Alternating days.. one day in home language and next day.. in English.. Second language instruction..

In small groups, children who do not speak the first language receive instruction in that language…another small group, children who do not speak the second language, receive instruction in the second language.. Concurrent.. teacher shifts back and forth between the two languages.. Sister classrooms.. On class and their teacher speak English; another class and their teacher speak another language.. teachers swap classes.. two classes play together and work on projects together.. ” (York, 2009). Regardless to which style the teacher works with the children, it is important to keep many other aspects into considerations.

The child’s own self-image and identity should be appreciated and respected, even celebrated. There should be an understanding that the child has many great things to offer and bring into the classroom. What we are doing for the children is modeling behavior that we hope they will grow to follow. That the children will learn to respect of others differences. Parents are vital to a child’s learning and well-being. How supportive they are at home with the child in the learning process will determine, most of the time, how successful a child will be.

It is so important to invite the parents into the classroom and use the parents as references and ask for their opinions and insight of their own children and the first language that the family speaks. This gives the teacher insight to the child’s support system and the child’s culture. If a child’s parents are given the opportunity to see what their child is learning and how, they can be more supportive to what the teacher is teaching. Parents are the first educators of children. Cultures, behaviors, customs, beliefs, other cognitive behaviors and stereotypical influences are part of a child’s life before transition to pre-school.

Parents, students and teachers form a partnership that will have long term effects. Family support is knowledge and application of family systems and different parenting styles; Knowledge of community resources to support family wellness; the ability to implement program practices that support families diverse, cultural, ethnic, and linguistic and socio-economics backgrounds (Gonzalez-Mena, 2009). The outcomes are indicated in the child’s self-esteem, continued cultural identification, positive relationship with parents, students and teachers, academic success and better community relationships.

When children see families, teachers and the community modeling positive relationships they feel good about themselves. As teachers we must strive to be a role model of accepting, sharing, learning and teaching a multitude of cultures and their diversity and how important each one of us plays in our diverse society.

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