50 Strategies for Communicating and Working with Diverse Families, 3rd edition

Published by Pearson (December 22, 2012) © 2014

  • Janet Gonzalez-Mena Emerita, Napa Valley College



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  • Be reminded of the most important aspect of relationships—communication. Throughout, the text stresses the integral components of communication between diverse families and teachers or administrators.
  • Discover why it is so important to build and maintain partnerships between teachers and family members, and why partnering truly improves the educational experience for all children by strengthening their identity and increasing the focus on diversity. Most chapters in the text mention the teacher-family partnership, and Chapter 6 is a detailed example, demonstrating some of the benefits of a partnering relationship, offering ideas about how to go about creating these partnerships in a proactive and positive manner.
  • Be aware of the importance of respecting the various diversities and cultures that exist in today’s classrooms. Recognise and be validated in your own personal diversity and family, broaden your mind to the differences felt by many students, gain an increased understanding of the perspectives of those students who feel different.
  • Gain a broader view of diversity, culture, and equity and how they relate to working with all children and their families. Throughout the text, a practical approach to working with children and families is taken when looking at many strategies to make education fit for all students.

Extensively revised, this third edition has increased and expanded the depth and ideas presented in previous editions, resulting in the most current, diversity-oriented Families book on the market. In direct response to reviewers and new trends in the field, the author has included more attention to diversity in every chapter; expanded the descriptions of the many different types of families readers will likely work with, such as military families and grandparents raising their grandchildren; information on the growing influence all types of media have on young children; more about the influence of economic hardship on children and families, as more families experience poverty; changes and additions in the sections What Teachers Can Do turning negatives into positives; new stories, examples, and vignettes that apply the information to real life; more on self-reflection, home visits; and additions and updates to many of the chapters to reflect the most current themes, trends, research, and ideas in the field today.

  • Gather ideas on the right directions to take when faced with classroom dilemmas—either as student teachers or practicum students. This edition features additional clear-cut examples about how to approach conflict, and ways to work through issues that arise when diversity rubs against standard practice, or when families and teachers don’t see eye-to-eye on what children need. See examples in Chapter 4 (working through diverse perspectives on gun play in the classroom) or Chapter 17 (working with conflicts around education and care practices).
  • Read and gain a unique perspective on the challenges and possible solutions in early childhood education from the many authentic stories and examples throughout the text that reflect what goes on in real-life classrooms and early education centers. This edition has added new stories throughout the chapters tohelpunderstand the communication practices related to the concepts presented.  See some specific examples in Chapter 18 (an example of using a logical consequence approach to discipline), Chapter 26 (a teacher tells a story about a Valentine’s Day celebration that went wrong), and Chapter 30 (the author tells two stories about what it’s like not to understand someone else’s language).
  • Benefit from many opportunities for self-reflection. In this new edition, there is an increased emphasis on self-reflection as a means to facilitating partnerships and working through conflicts with families who have diverse experiences. This added focus will translate to a better, increased mental health for teachers and students alike, offering a way to understand what is going on outside the individual, as well as on the inside. See examples in Chapter 16 (suggesting readers reflect on their personal early educational experiences to understand how they did or did not fit culturally), in Chapter 17 (an expanded section on how teachers can use self-reflection to work to solve conflicts around education and care practices), and in Chapter 18 (using self-reflection to discover one’s own biases and reactions to family members who are bothersome).
  • Discover ways to make your classroom an inviting and welcoming place for students and their families, with new information on how the environment can be an effective tool in working with diverse families. With concrete examples and suggestions for enhancing learning, self-identity, and the cultural connections of children to their families, new information on how the environment can be just as effective as a diversity strategy is featured in this text. Readers will learn how to be reflective about the diversity of the children and families in their classrooms, enhance children’s self-identities and connections to their families, and facilitate communication with families. Find this content in chapters 9, 16, and 28.
  • Relate to a modern text that reflects the real-life world in which you live. Throughout this edition, the author has replaced every instance of the term “parents” with “family members” to better encompass the many different types of families and individuals raising children today. Additionally, Chapter 4 mentions parents in the military, and Chapter 24 has a new title, “Focus on Fathers and Grandfathers” with new information that reflects this topic.
  • Learn about the benefits of conducting home visits as a way of creating partnerships between teachers and families. New to this edition, the text features more content on home visits. Chapter 6 suggests instituting home visits when possible, and Chapter 8 includes added material on home visits from previous editions.

Section 1: Welcoming Everybody

    Chapter 1: Appreciating All Kinds of Families

    Chapter 2: Working with Immigrant Families

    Chapter 3: Including Families of Children with Special Needs

    Chapter 4: Creating an Antibias Environment

    Chapter 5: Respecting All Families, Including Those with Same-Sex Parents

Section 2: Partnerships with Families

    Chapter 6: Building Partnerships

    Chapter 7: Removing Barriers to Partnerships

    Chapter 8: Minimizing Competition with Parents

    Chapter 9: Supporting Attachments

    Chapter 10: Considering Authority

    Chapter 11: Focusing on Family Strengths

    Chapter 12: Helping Parents to Be Advocates for Their Children

    Chapter 13: Encouraging Parents to Become Advocates for All Children

    Chapter 14: Creating a Sense of Community

Section 3: Honoring and Working with Diversity

    Chapter 15: Understanding and Appreciating Cultural Differences

    Chapter 16: Establishing Culturally Responsive Education and Care

    Chapter 17: Working with Conflicts Around Education and Care Practices

    Chapter 18: Considering Cultural Differences in Guidance and Discipline

    Chapter 19: Working with Families Around What You Believe Are Harmful Practices

    Chapter 20: Thinking about Differing Ideas Related to How Children Learn

    Chapter 21: Managing Conflicts 

Section 4: Family Participation and Education

    Chapter 22: Considering Family Participation

    Chapter 23: Including Families in the Classroom or Center

    Chapter 24: Focusing on Fathers and Grandfathers

    Chapter 25: Taking a Transformative Approach to Parent Education

    Chapter 26: Working With Families Around Holiday Issues

    Chapter 27: Exploring Parents' Role on Decision-Making Boards and Councils

Section 5: Communication

    Chapter 28: Creating Environments for Communication

    Chapter 29: Empowering Self and Others

    Chapter 30: Communicating Through Writing

    Chapter 31: Holding Ongoing Conversations with Families

    Chapter 32: Looking at Nonverbal Communication Across Cultures

Section 6: Meetings and Conferences

    Chapter 33: Meeting with Families for the First Time

    Chapter 34: Thinking About Meetings in General

    Chapter 35: Holding Conferences

    Chapter 36: Considering Cross-Cultural Conferences

    Chapter 37: Talking with Families when Concerns Arise

Section 7: Working with Parents around Specific Issues

    Chapter 38: Helping teh Child Enter the School or Program

    Chapter 39: Maintaining Home Languages

    Chapter 40: Easing Children Through Transitions

    Chapter 41: Brining Nature into Children's Lives

    Chapter 42: Addressing Obesity with Nutrition

    Chapter 43: Dealing with Media Issues

    Chapter 44: Maintaining Stability During Divorce

    Chapter 45: Coping with a Death in the Family

    Chapter 46: Finding Community Resources and Making Referrals

Section 8: Challenging Conversations

    Chapter 47: Working with Parents Who Constantly Complain

    Chapter 48: Working with Family Members Who Appear Hostile

    Chapter 49: Talking with Families About Behavior Changes

    Chapter 50: Referring Families for Abuse or Neglect

Janet Gonzalez-Mena is Retired Faculty in Child and Family Studies, Napa Valley College, Napa California, where for 15 years she was on the full-time faculty until her retirement in 1998. Not only has she taught in the California community college system for 36 years, but also Gonzalez-Mena’s career includes being a preschool teacher in a bilingual program, child care director, and coordinator of a pilot program of therapeutic child care for abused and neglected children.  A prolific author, her textbook achievements include: Child, Family, and Community, 6th ed. (Pearson, 2013); Infants, Toddlers and Caregivers, 9th ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2012); Foundations of Early Childhood Education: Teaching Children in a Diverse Society, 6th ed., (McGraw-Hill, forthcoming); and Diversity in Early Care and Education: Honoring Differences, 4th ed. (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2008).  Janet also co-authored Basics of Developmentally Appropriate Practice: An Introduction for Teachers of Infants and Toddlers (National Association for Education of Young Children, 2011). Currently self-employed as a consultant in early care and education, she also finds the time to write for Young Children and Exchange, and occasionally for publications in Canada and New Zealand.  

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