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Application: The Influence of Culture in Infant/Toddler Programs
Culture has been described as an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg (perhaps 10% of the overall mass of ice) represents those aspects of culture that are clearly visible and easy to observe, such as the foods, music, stories, and customs of a particular group. The remaining 90% of the iceberg that exists beneath the surface represents those aspects of culture that are typically unconscious and difficult to see, which includes values, beliefs, and expectations about the care and education of children during the first three years of life. Differences in these unconscious, hard-to-see aspects of culture can result in conflicts between professionals and families and/or discontinuity in the care of infants and toddlers (Gonzalez-Mena, as cited in Laureate Education Inc., 2006).One way that an infant/toddler professional can begin to recognize these differences and consciously address them is by analyzing ordinary, everyday interactions, which are shaped by culture and convey individuals’ values, beliefs, and expectations. This is an important step for a professional to take, because “subtleties of interaction within relationships make up the developmental process, and the empowering elements in relationships are precisely what we want to ensure for children. As practitioners, we must become better at understanding cultural messages in order to ensure their continuity, provide for their consistency, and intervene to prevent any potential disruptions in the process” (Gonzalez-Mena, 2008, p. 98). In this Application Assignment, you will begin to engage in the process of “seeing beneath the surface” by talking to an infant/toddler professional about his or her culture and culturally responsive practices and those of the program he or she works in related to eating/feeding, sleeping, attachment and separation, play, socialization, and language. You will also reflect on the ways the information you gained from the interview relate to the insights and learning you have gleaned from this course. Download and print the Interview document for instructions and interview questions.
Assignment length: 2 pages
- Respond to each item. Each response should be concise and between 2–3 paragraphs in length.
- Use MS Word to write your responses, and submit your answers to all three questions in one Word document.
- Copy and paste each question within the document, so that your Instructor can see which question you are responding to.
- In Chapter 7 of Diversity in Early Care and Education, Janet Gonzalez-Mena discusses the socialization, guidance, and discipline of young children. Imagine that you are a parent of a toddler and that you tend to orientate toward either individualism or collectivism. Describe one example of how that might translate into guidance and discipline practices, and explain why you think so.
- Review the information on emotional expression and regulation presented on pages 132–133 of Diversity in Early Care and Education and pages 4–8 of How Culture Shapes Social-Emotional Development. Describe one or more reasons why families may or may not encourage emotional expression or regulation, and two or more ways in which the communication of emotions can vary. Then, explain how an infant/toddler professional could use this awareness to develop stronger relationships with families and provide responsive care to infants and toddlers.
- “The Critical Importance of Cultural and Linguistic Continuity for Infants and Toddlers” (Chang & Pulido, 1994) presents some of the key issues related to cultural and linguistic diversity in infant and toddler care, including the absence of home language in many caregiving environments. Based on the information in this article, describe one or more possible effects that the absence of home language within a caregiving relationship may have on cultural continuity, family functioning, and/or an infant or toddler’s social, emotional, or cognitive development. Then, write a brief rationale explaining why further research on this topic is needed.