The Relationship Between Families and Schools: Culture
Every child is born into a culture. Culture has nothing to do with genetics, but it is another important factor in understanding the child and the family. Culture is a way of life, encompassing the arts, beliefs, and institutions of a population that are passed down from generation to generation. Culture can involve codes of manners, dress, language, literature, religion, symbols, values, and rituals. Culture is passed on by social interactions with signifi cant others, including parents.7
Culture is a part of a child’s life from the day he or she is born, and this is a multidimensional source of infl uence on the child’s development. When children enter school, they bring with them their culture and what they have been taught directly or indirectly through culture. It is necessary for the teacher to understand the child and family in relation to both the immediate and larger socio-cultural environment.
Fortunately, U.S. society has become more tolerant of different cultures in general, and many schools today incorporate multiculturalism into their curriculum. However, it is a parent’s responsibility to directly teach children about various races and cultures. Some parents may feel uncomfortable pointing out differences, but research shows that parents who do not directly teach children about various races and cultures actually reinforce racism.8 Likewise, teachers must respect – and celebrate – the various cultures and cultural characteristics that children bring to the classroom.
It is also important to keep in mind that schools have a culture as well, and the new environment or culture of school often involves large differences from what a child is exposed to at home. Similarly, the environment of preschool versus Kindergarten or Kindergarten versus fi rst grade can be disparate with very different expectations. Regardless of home culture, school entry brings a need for adaptation to a new environment and often a new set of expectations. Children who adapt and transition most successfully do so with the support of the important adults in their lives, and as the result of a true parent-teacher partnership.9
Culture You Are Here
Reprinted with permission of the Gesell Institute. Copyright © 2010, Gesell Institute of Human Development. All Rights Reserved.
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