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Blog | | First 5 California

First 5 California DLL Pilot Community of Practice: August 2021 Meeting Summary

By: Early Edge California, Advancement Project California, and Glen Price Group (GPG), in partnership with First 5 California and the California Department of Education

This blog is the fifth post in a series about the DLL Pilot CoP. See here for additional blog posts.

Resources for Educators and the Field

Policy Implications

  • Policy makers should consider identifying funding for a concerted campaign effort aimed at elevating the importance of home language development to address the outdated belief system that persists within the ECE space that English-only instruction is the most beneficial. County representatives noted the need for a concerted effort to address this persistent misconception among educators, administration, and families.

Families are children’s first teachers, and when it comes to Dual Language Learners (DLLs), they hold incredible power to share their children’s multilingual development. 

The August meeting of the F5CA DLL Pilot Community of Practice (CoP) focused on engaging and supporting DLL families in general and through COVID-19 recovery. The DLL CoP was fortunate to hear a presentation from the Bay Area Regional DLL Team including Camilla Rand (Contra Costa), Melissa Cunningham (Contra Costa), Jennifer Martinez (San Francisco), Olivia Leung (San Francisco), Soodie Ansari (San Mateo), and Kate Welty (Santa Clara). This regional team works together towards a shared north star: creating the supports and strategies necessary to have thriving DLLs in the region. As noted by the presentation title, “Family Engagement: The Magic Ingredient,” the Bay Area Regional DLL Team shared that partnerships with families are a key, foundational component of quality early care and education for DLLs.

CoP members heard a presentation from the Bay Area Regional DLL Team regarding their work to engage and support the families of DLLs.

The presentation focused on the team’s work to launch the Creative Connections Family Workshop Series across participating Bay Area regional counties. This workshop is intended to foster new and innovative connections between families and schools (including mixed-delivery learning settings such as center-based and family child care homes) to ensure full participation of children who are DLLs so they can thrive in school and life. The content of this workshop:

  • Focuses on supporting strong partnerships between families of DLL children and educators.
  • Introduces concrete practices for supporting children’s dual language learning.
  • Is aligned with the content of the State-approved 2-part DLL course.

The Creative Connections Workshop Series hosted across the Bay Area region has an explicit focus on ensuring DLLs can thrive in school and life.

This workshop series launched shortly after the August 2021 CoP meeting and will continue to be offered throughout the region for several months, culminating in a spring 2022 DLL Symposium. After the presentation, CoP members engaged in further discussion on the topic of engaging and supporting DLL families.

“They [families] are the special ingredient you have to have in order for any project to work.”

—CoP Member

Counties shared several lessons learned regarding engaging and supporting DLL families in general and through COVID-19 recovery including: 

  • It is important to make sure the process of family engagement is not one-size-fits-all. 
  • Training for educators to work with families is critical, as is supporting educators’ confidence to facilitate training with families; the relationship between educators and families helps with engagement and promotes sustainability. 
  • To encourage educators’ participation, help educators (who are under a lot of stress due to COVID-19) understand how training helps meet their goals.
  • Research found that outreach to Latino families was effective through phone (text) and Facebook.
  • For both educators and families:
    • Provide specific support and/or training on how to access and navigate Zoom. It cuts down on the need for technical assistance during the meeting. 
    • Give educators/families tablets with hot spots to reduce barriers to participation in virtual trainings/meetings. 
    • When timing and content are right, virtual platforms can increase participation in learning opportunities because they reduce transportation barriers, and provide greater flexibility and opportunity. 

Counties also noted several challenges. 

  • It can be challenging to expect educators to engage with families virtually and to expect providers to be able to support families with technical challenges that arise when some educators face those same technical challenges themselves. 
  • There is a persistent and outdated belief system that English-only instruction is the most beneficial for DLLs. 

Early Edge California noted that when families express concern around focusing on home language development, it can be a helpful strategy to have someone from school district leadership share the message that home language development is essential for future long term success. Research has shown that assessment scores of DLLs with home language development instruction exceed scores of their English-only speaking peers. Many families, educators, and administrators are currently unaware of the research there is today that promotes the extreme benefits of bilingualism and the research demonstrating how home language serves as an essential bridge to learning English. Hearing this messages from a trusted source can make all the difference. This makes a concerted communications campaign and messaging effort about the benefits of multilingualism all the most critical to make transformative change for DLLs in California.

This blog will be updated regularly to share the emerging lessons learned, needed resources, and policy recommendations coming from the DLL Pilot CoP meetings. Learn more about the First 5 CA DLL Pilot.

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