In describing a child's journey to self-realization, Gonzalez-Mena, and Eyer (2015), relate cultural influence to potential barriers and progress inducers in the caregiver/ family relationship. This was reiterated by Grace (Laureate Education, 2011) during an explanation of the need for cultural representation of families participating in home-visit interviews, such as those provided by Head Start/Early Head Start (National Head Start Association n. d.). With changing definitions of ethnic minority status, and the growing number of culturally diverse families contributing to society (Laureate Education), the call for early childhood education as a "profession...to reflect the demographics" (00:06:05) of the served community when completing home visits manifests instant agreement followed by an awareness of the need for personal reflective thought on the subject. Gonzalez-Mena and Eyer detail how cultural identity affects the success of meeting social/emotional widely held expectations of establishing and maintaining a relationship with client families (Heroman, Burts, Berke, K-Lee, Bickart & Dodge, 2010). Manipulating physical, emotional, and verbal responses to the visiting educator, the perception caused by cultural experiences prior to the initial interaction is an indicator of the need for family educators and community helpers that enter client family homes to "reflect those that they are going to visit; in terms of what they look like; how they talk; Understanding of their culture" (00:05:54). This poses a question that may never be answered; How can we meet the expectations of cultural competence for our clients when a family observing our physical characteristics, mannerisms, and verbal/body language can possibly result in adverse consequences?
An adjoining challenge is that of encouraging families to participate in ways their cultural practices are made known (Laureate Education, 2011). In agreement with Grace's professional development statements on the subject, authentic project learning (Helm, & Katz, 2011) can link a home visit with in-class family participation. Phase two of Helm and Katz's Project Approach calls for experts in the field to speak and participate actively. In personal experience, this led to teacher team growth, a project study focused on the cultural diversity of our classroom, and a domino effect as several more parents volunteered from our roster that included 75% ESL and four languages in addition to English (Wolfe, personal communication, 2010).
Gonzalez-Mena, J., & Eyer, D. (2015). Infants, toddlers, and caregivers. New York [u.a.]: McGraw-Hill Education.
Helm, J. H., & Katz, L. G. (2011). Young investigators: the project approach in the early years. New York: Teachers College Press.
Heroman, C., Burts, D. C., Berke, K.-leé, Bickart, T. S., & Dodge, D. T. (2010). The creative curriculum for preschool. birth through kindergarten. Washington, DC: Teaching Strategies.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2011). Issues and trends in the early childhood field: The effects of changing demographics and diversity on children, families, and the EC field. Baltimore, MD: Author.
National Head Start Association (n. d). http://www.nhsa.org