There is a young girl who is going to be coming to my four year old classroom, her name is Kumu and she lives with her Father, Mother and younger brother Akui. The family had recently immigrated to the United States from Mumbai India.
In order to prepare myself to offer Kumu and her family a welcoming entrance into our school I first had them fill out our Family Culture Survey when they completed the enrollment paper.
Secondly, because I found out that Kumu and her mother were English language learners, I found several words in Marathi and practiced how to say things like, welcome, good morning, and other helpful phrases. Because there are over 3000 languages in India, I asked the family specifically which language Kumu was most comfortable with.
I checked my classroom to make sure that there are dolls and other toys that reflect the Kumu’s culture and that there are things she is familiar with.
On the Family culture form I asked Kumu’s family what types of foods they enjoyed and if there were any foods they specifically chose not to eat. The family told me that Kumu was very open to trying new foods, and that she enjoyed many spices such as curry. I asked Kumu’s mother is she would like to come into the classroom and share a recipe with the class through a cooking project. She was a little hesitant but said that she would like to try and participate.
Finally, through my research into the parenting practices of families in Mumbai, I learned that for the most part parents and extended family member spend a great deal of time holding young children. I asked Kumu’s mother if she had a specific toy or article such a blanket that would help her feel more comfortable in our class. We decided that Kumu would like to bring a small photo of her family to keep in her cubby.
By incorporating Kumu’s home language and culture, I hope to make the center a welcoming place for both the child and the family. Through open communication with the family, I let them know that I am open to learning about their practices and supporting them in Kumu’s education.