- What language does the majority of this community speak?
- Are there any linguistic or ethnic minorities in this area?
- How many people of this community are impoverished?
- How many kindergartens are located within this area?
- What effort does the local government take to promote childhood education?
- Are there educational institutions for children with disabilities?
- How many playgrounds are located within this district?
- Can families, living in this district, receive any free help consultation about the educational problems?
- Is there anything that this community lacks for the promotion of childhood education?
- Which properties of this community promote children’s social and psychological development?
The first person, whom I interviewed, was James Barton, a social worker, who has lived in this area for almost ten years. He works in the family center where families can receive consultations from experienced psychologists and educators. I chose him for this interview mostly because of his occupation. His experience of working with children is four years. As a social worker, he is more likely to know more about the problems of these people.
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He says that the majority of people, who live in this area, are English-speakers, while only a small part of the population (approximately 10 percent) speaks Spanish. In his opinion, the area has no shortage of kindergartens, there are at least 12 of them, and at this point none of them is overcrowded. Apart from that, he points out there are numerous playgrounds in this area, and this is particularly beneficial for toddlers and their parents.
Nonetheless, he also argues that the problem of children with disabilities merit much more attention, especially, if we are speaking about children with visual impairments or moving disorders. James Barton says that normal playgrounds are poorly accommodated for the needs of these children. Besides, few family centers can help these families. This is the key issue that has to be addressed by the local authorities.
Additionally, the interviewee thinks that the key strength of this community is strong social cohesion, which means the majority of the population dwells in this place for a long time, and each member is interested in the improvement of work and living conditions. This view is supported by many scholars who maintain that strong social bonds are conducive to the promotion of early childhood education (Barbarin & Wasik, 2009, p 250).
The second person with whom I discussed the challenges faced by this community was Ann Shaw. She was born in this area, and at this moment she acts as a school board member. I decided to interview her because she has lived in this district for her entire life, and she is aware of those difficulties, encountered by the inhabitants. Furthermore, she worked as an educator for more than twenty years, and she can throw light on many of the problem factors, affecting parents and children. She confirmed much of the information, provided by James Barton but she also noticed that some important issues had been overlooked.
Namely, she attracted my attention to the needs of linguistic minorities. In her opinion, many schools do not provide the necessary support to these people. The schools are oriented toward students, who can speak English as their native language but very little is being done for ESL learners, especially when they enter pre-school. When they proceed to primary school, their academic performance is not as successful as it can be mostly due to the language barrier (Willey, Lee, & Rumberger, 2009). Ann Shaw says that the point the city council is developing a new educational program. However, she did not specify how exactly this program would be implemented.
Barbarin O. & Wasik B. (2009). Handbook of child development and early education: research to practice. London: Guilford Press.
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Willey T. Lee J. & Rumberger R. (2009) The education of language minority immigrants in the United States. NY: Multilingual Matters.