What to consider when working with diverse families?

Families both across and within cultural groups vary considerably from one another and it is important for service providers and early childhood practitioners to be aware of and sensitive to this diversity. 

Extended family

Language and religion

The CALD groups in Australia vary greatly in terms of language and religion. It is important to know the language spoken by a family when translation and interpreting services are required. It is also important to consider the religious norms for culturally appropriate service delivery as this may impact on the need for an interpreter from a certain gender or religious orientation.

Communicating respectfully in early childhood services

We all communicate. Each one of us can choose to communicate more effectively and respectfully to contribute to an early childhood environment where families, children and practitioners get a sense of belonging.  Communicating together involves a two-way process of sharing information and developing a common understanding between parents and practitioners in early childhood services. As practitioners we can enhance our communication skills by becoming aware of elements of communication and by demonstrating understanding of the differences in verbal, non-verbal and styles of communication. This may lead to respectful and positive interactions.

Some of the ways we can achieve this is by:

  • Getting to know each other by sharing information
  • Communicating clearly and comfortably. This may be face to face, via email, face book or telephone
  • Seeing things from another person’s perspective
  • Develop a common understanding of child rearing practices
  • Acknowledging and accepting our differences
  • Demonstrating respect and showing genuine interest in the other persons values and beliefs
  • Being aware of other people’s non-verbal communication
  • Valuing others diverse backgrounds and checking in to see if parents have understood the conversation

(Adapted from: Effective communication between families and early childhood staff , Kids Matter)

Watch the following video, filmed by the EMBRACE team at the Queensland Council of Social Service, on sharing new understandings about culture.

Watch this video on StudioQ with a transcript.

Assisting families through translation and interpreting services

InterpreterEffective communication between culturally and linguistically diverse families and service providers is an essential aspect of quality service provision. If you are working with families where English is not their first language, you should try to communicate simply, by using affirmative greetings and short sentences. Once you have identified the language spoken by the family, use translated material if available and use a telephone interpreter service if appropriate. Organise subsequent meetings with an interpreter for complex matters. The use of accredited interpreters empowers both the service provider and the individual and imparts accurate information to families. Practitioners can use phone or onsite face to face interpreting services. 

In order to support the kindergarten participation of children from non-English speaking families, the Queensland Government is funding free access to Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS) for kindergartens. Phone 131450 toll free, from 8 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday in Queensland.

The use of interpreter services for culturally and linguistically diverse families who require linguistic support will help educators to not only ensure smooth dissemination of information, but develop a deeper understanding of the children in their care and help build better relationships with families in their services.

To learn more about translating and interpreting services in Queensland you can work through the online module “Working with interpreters in early childhood services”.

Last modified: Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:03 PM