Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Using Your Students’ Backgrounds: Funds of Knowledge

Have you ever heard the term, funds of knowledge?  When we learn about the funds of knowledge that children have, we are learning about the background knowledge and the culture of our students. This allows them to function in their homes and neighborhoods. The idea behind this key phrase is that our students bring a rich background of knowledge and cultural awareness to our classrooms. When we understand this, we can make connections and learning will be more efficient and richer.

Head Start personnel conduct home visits, as do many other teachers. As these home visits are held, we can and should let go of the deficit lens that we often use. Teachers naturally want to “fix” things so we look at what is missing rather than what is there. We have to shed this tendency to determine the funds of knowledge our students bring us. Is the home bilingual or multilingual? This is helpful for brain development. If the family speaks one language, how can the vocabulary be used to enrich lessons? How does the food of the family contribute to your curriculum? What folktales and other stories does the child know? How can these be used in the classroom? Once we look at what a child brings to us, we can build on these positives.    

We want to encourage the home language of the child. In order to do that, we can provide literacy materials for the family. This link will take you to two books, one in English and the other in Spanish. They are complete with suggestions for the family. We hope you will share these as you gather more information about each child’s funds of knowledge.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC – 2.D.01
Head Start – II.

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