Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Sharing Responsibilities with Families and Pluralistic Communities in Early Childhood Education

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Early Childhood and Primary Education

DESCRIPTION The traditional African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child will be analyzed for its ideological and practical implications in the local context. The current educational system is the product of industrialization and of a modernist way of understanding knowledge. Based on Malaguzzi's premise for his philosophy of education as relationship, one of the core principles of open curriculum is the development of positive, respectful and reciprocal relationships between the practitioner, children, families and community (Gandini, 2002).

This study-unit is based on this philosophy, where students will be encouraged to understand the relationships among professionals, children, their families, and the community through ecological and sociocultural theories. Opportunities for sharing ideas on how to establish, develop and maintain a learning and caring community composed of practitioners, families, children and the community, will be discussed. Students will plan activities and experiences where they consider and use families and people, spaces and material from the community, as a pedagogical tool for learning. Students will also be introduced to the constructs of distributed knowledge, communities of learners, the notion that relationships matter and affect other relationships, and to the mediating role of relationships in learning.

Another section of this study-unit enables students to become aware of the notions of linguistic and cultural diversity among pre-school children which is becoming increasingly present in Maltese society with the widespread of immigration. They will become aware of the need for different professionals working with pre-schoolers to acknowledge cultural and linguistic complexities encountered by young children having minority backgrounds.

Study-unit Aims:

The aim of this study-unit is to challenge students to re-conceptualize the roles of the school family and community in the upbringing of children. They will appreciate and gain understanding of the importance of developing a pedagogy of relationships with children, families and communities. It also exposes them to the diverse, complex and changing nature of their role as early childhood professionals in building collaborative relationships. Students will be introduced to the concepts of multilingualism and multiculturalism, as well as they will become aware of linguistic and cultural diversity in children’s early years in oder to distinguish between difficulties limited to learning the societal majority languages and those that span all forms of language learning.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- critically evaluate one's underlying concepts of person, family, community, early childhood practitioner, knowledge, education and nurture;
- analyze current educational systems that hinder holistic development;
- discuss the implications of such theories as the ecological systems theory, positive development, distributed cognition as well as communitarian approaches to learning;
- explain how to create partnerships with other professions, families and the community;
- describe the concepts of multilingualism and multiculturalism;
- compare multilingual exposure and intrinsic language learning difficulties as causes of incomplete language knowledge.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- perceive and make use of families and communities as resources of and for learning;
- support children to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships with other children and adults;
- create experiences that help create positive relationships within the early childhood setting as well as outside;
- re-enpower families and communities to take on their responsibilities in the nurturing of children;
- illustrate the notions of linguistic and cultural diversity through instances encountered in professional practice and everyday social contexts.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main texts:
- Auer, P. & Li Wei (2007). (Eds) Handbook of Multilingualism and Multilingual Communication. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
- Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
- Darragh Ernst J. (2014). The Welcoming Classroom: Building Strong Home-to-School Connections for Early Learning. USA: Gryphon.
- Diaz, C.F. (2001). (Ed.) Multicultural Education for the 21st Century. Longman.
- Gonzales-Mena, J. (2012). Child, Family and the Community: Family-Centred Early Care and Education. (6th Ed.) USA: Pearson.
- Henry, M. (1996). Young children, Parents and Professionals: Enhancing the Links in Early Childhood. Oxon: Routledge.
- Keyser, J. (2006). From Parents to Partners: Building a Family-Centred Early Childhood Program. St Paul: Redleaf.
- Papatheodorou, T., & Moyles, J. R. (Eds.). (2008). Learning together in the early years: Exploring relational pedagogy. Routledge.
- Vema, M.K., Corrigan, K.P. & Sally Firth (1995). (Eds) Working with Bilingual Children. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Supplementary texts:
- Battle, D. (2011). (Ed.) Communication Disorders in Multicultural and International Populations (4th ed.) Elsevier.
- Bronfenbrenner, U. (1992). Ecological systems theory. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
- Duncan, D. (1989). Working with Bilingual Language Disability. London: Chapman & Hall.
- Grech, H. & Cheng, L. (2010) Communication in the migrant community in Malta. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, 62, 246-254.
- MacNaughton, G., & Hughes, P. (2011) Parents and Professionals in Early Childhood Settings. England: Open University.
- Saracho, O. N., & Spodek, B. (2005). Contemporary Perspective on Families, Communities and Schools for Young Children. USA: Information Age.
- Swick, K. J., & Williams, R. D. (2006). An analysis of Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological perspective for early childhood educators: Implications for working with families experiencing stress. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(5), 371-378. (available online)
- Threats, T.T. (2010). The complexity of social/cultural dimension in communication disorders. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, 62, 158-165.
- VanderVen, K. (2008). Promoting positive development in early childhood: Building blocks for a successful start (Vol. 6). Springer Science & Business Media.


STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 25%
Presentation (15 Minutes) Yes 25%
Case Study (take home) No 50%

LECTURER/S Barbara Baschiera
Daniela R. Gatt
Valerie Ruth Scerri

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.