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Tip Sheet 5

Bilingual Children and Families


in Early Childhood Services
The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) acknowledges that
communication is crucial to belonging, being and becoming. Childrens use of their
home language underpins their sense of identity and their conceptual development...
They have the right to be continuing users of their home language as well as to
develop competency in Standard Australian English.
(EYLF: p.38)

Things to consider Things to


Communication between parents and children is fundamental to maintaining
healthy family relationships. Studies show that where there is little remember
communication between parents and children as a result of childrens loss
of language skills in their home language, the gap between parents values Involving parents is
and traditions and those of their childrens widens. With additional support, essential to supporting
bilingual learners can gain proficiency in both languages, maintain family children to maintain
connections, and develop a sense of identity that honours both their adopted their home language.
and home cultures.
Many bilingual parents
What you can do as an educator believe that they are doing
their children a favour by
Help parents understand the importance of their role in their childrens not speaking their first
literacy development. language at home. In their
eagerness to adjust to a
Help parents identify their language goals for their child and themselves. new setting, parents may
Create a bilingual learning environment through materials, labelling, and overlook or avoid this
other strategies and learn a few helpful phrases to fit with daily routines in important aspect of their
the childs home language. childrens development.
Yet knowing their parents
Ensure children are provided with additional support and resources, if language is vital to
required, such as those available through the Inclusion Support Agency childrens cultural identity
and the Bicultural Support Program. and maintaining healthy
Provide parents with resources in their language and take home learning family relationships.
tools that supports their home language and English language learning.
Encourage parents who have limited English proficiency to consider
building their own language skills.
Communication
Support educators professional development in learning about cultural
diversity and building linguistic capacity. between parents
and children
is fundamental
to maintaining
healthy family
relationships.

Bilingual Children and Families in Early Childhood Services | Diversity in Practice, 2011 | Tip Sheet 5
Tip Sheet 5

Quick Tips Useful Resources Local Library Services


Check your local library catalogue
for bilingual books or you can
Book Garden request books in over 40 community
ff Emphasise to parents that they Online catalogue including multicultural languages from the State Library of
are their childs first teacher. childrens books, early childhood NSW free of charge.
curriculum and other resources.
ff Being able to speak two or My Language
www.thebookgarden.com.au
more languages is a strength Provide access to search engines,
and an advantage. Childrens Services Central General web directories and news in over 60
Resource Library (Lady Gowrie languages; translated training courses
ff Emphasise to parents their for the public.
home language and English Child Centre)
Specialist childrens services resource www.mylanguage.gov.au
are both important to their
childs growing up and will pool, accessible online, includes
support the transition to
multimedia, books, articles, videos,
and a range of hands-on materials for Support Services
school process. children and staff, resources to support
curriculum development and resources Bicultural Support Program
ff Early childhood service for staff professional development. Provide time limited linguistic and
educators can assist with
Toll Free: 1800 157 818 cultural support to eligible Childrens
supporting the maintenance www.cscentral.org.au Services to assist with the inclusion
of the home language. of children from culturally and
Connect Child and Family linguistically diverse backgrounds,
ff Encourage parents to create refugee and Indigenous children.
their own resources. Record Services Inc (Possum Toy Library)
Recruitment and training of new
stories and songs for the Operates Possum Toy Library and Parents workers offered on an ongoing basis.
and Educators Resource Library, includes To Access the program you need
children, use them in the multicultural resources. to be referred by either Childrens
centre or ask a parent to join
Phone: 02 4758 9966 Services Central or by your regional
in with songs or read a story www.connect.asn.au Inclusion Support Agency.
in their home language.
Phone: 02 9569 1288
ff Label objects and areas in the Free Kindergarten Association (FKA)
www.eccfcsc.org
classroom. Encourage parents Multilingual, multicultural, educational
materials for early childhood programs
to write the labels in their designed to support staff to incorporate Inclusion Support Agency (ISA)
home language. multicultural perspectives in all Sydney North West
programming. Provide childcare services staff with
ff Help parents connect with practical advice and support in
other families who speak their www.fka.com.au
including children with additional
language. Global Language Books needs into a quality child care
environment.
ff Encourage parents to meet Resources including mono and bilingual
childrens books in over 70 languages, Phone: 02 4732 7843
with other families to talk
music, games, puzzles, resources for Email: isa@penrithcity.nsw.gov.au
about strategies, share
refugees, multicultural posters, and much
materials, and resources for more. You can filter by language, cultural Office of Early Childhood
helping children maintain group, by age or resource type. Education and Child Care
their home language. www.globallanguage.com.au Information available about Special
ff Manage parents expectations. Child Care Benefit (SCCB) for parents
Learning and practicing two Little Big Book Club experiencing financial hardship
New Arrivals Family Reading Pack and how to access free child care
languages takes time, their if studying Adult Migrant English
provides age appropriate reading
child might mix up words or Program (AMEP) see Fact Sheet 11.
materials in multilingual formats
mix languages together. Some designed for the needs of migrant and For children with additional needs,
confusion is to be expected. refugee families with children aged five including children from culturally
years and under. The aim of the resources and diverse backgrounds, your child
ff Some government services is to encourage parents to talk and care service may be eligible for extra
such as Centrelink will participate in early language and literacy assistance through the Inclusion and
translate documents if relevant activities with their children in both Professional Support Program see
English and their first language. Fact Sheet 14.
for their service provision.
www.thelittlebigbookclub.com.au www.oececc.gov.au

Tip Sheet 5 | Diversity in Practice, 2011 | Bilingual Children and Families in Early Childhood Services