50 Strategies for Communicating and Working with Diverse Families, 3rd Edition

Janet Gonzalez-Mena

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50 Strategies for Communicating and Working with Diverse Families, 3rd Edition

By Janet Gonzalez-Mena
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Janet Gonzalez-Mena
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For courses that cover Parent/Home-School Relations in Early Childhood Education and/or multicultural education in early childhood.


This targeted text offers practical strategies for partnering with families to support, enhance, and maximise the quality of care and education of young children. It presents a plethora of ideas for creating the trust necessary for true collaboration between families and the early childhood professional, and guides the student how to develop useful programs that include all families and individuals. 


50 Strategies for Communicating and Working with Diverse Families, Third Edition presents practical strategies teachers can use to create a positive, family-centered approach to their classrooms. With myriad stories, examples, and vignettes throughout the text to help readers apply the information to real life, this text is based on the idea that a child cannot be separated from the context of the family and its influences, and when programs take a family-centered approach, everyone profits.  It honors diversity and emphasises how to make every child and family feel welcomed and respected. Key family communication issues are discussed in research-based, yet highly accessible prose. Useful strategies to facilitate communication and collaboration are presented in brief 2- or 3-page chapters. Many of the strategies in this book address ideas about how to create a climate of trust by communicating in a collaborative way.  Teachers will love the fifty short chapters with information they can apply immediately.  Practical and easy to use, the goal of the text is to create inclusive programs that respect and honour differences in families and individuals, keeping the welfare of the child at the forefront of all that is said and done. 

Janet Gonzalez-Mena is Retired Faculty in Child and Family Studies, Napa Valley College, Napa California, where for 15 years she was on the full-time faculty until her retirement in 1998. Not only has she taught in the California community college system for 36 years, but also Gonzalez-Mena’s career includes being a preschool teacher in a bilingual program, child care director, and coordinator of a pilot program of therapeutic child care for abused and neglected children.  A prolific author, her textbook achievements include: Child, Family, and Community, 6th ed. (Pearson, 2013); Infants, Toddlers and Caregivers, 9th ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2012); Foundations of Early Childhood Education: Teaching Children in a Diverse Society, 6th ed., (McGraw-Hill, forthcoming); and Diversity in Early Care and Education: Honoring Differences, 4th ed. (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2008).  Janet also co-authored Basics of Developmentally Appropriate Practice: An Introduction for Teachers of Infants and Toddlers (National Association for Education of Young Children, 2011). Currently self-employed as a consultant in early care and education, she also finds the time to write for Young Children and Exchange, and occasionally for publications in Canada and New Zealand.  

  • Be reminded of the most important aspect of relationships—communication. Throughout, the text stresses the integral components of communication between diverse families and teachers or administrators.
  • Discover why it is so important to build and maintain partnerships between teachers and family members, and why partnering truly improves the educational experience for all children by strengthening their identity and increasing the focus on diversity. Most chapters in the text mention the teacher-family partnership, and Chapter 6 is a detailed example, demonstrating some of the benefits of a partnering relationship, offering ideas about how to go about creating these partnerships in a proactive and positive manner.
  • Be aware of the importance of respecting the various diversities and cultures that exist in today’s classrooms. Recognise and be validated in your own personal diversity and family, broaden your mind to the differences felt by many students, gain an increased understanding of the perspectives of those students who feel different.
  • Gain a broader view of diversity, culture, and equity and how they relate to working with all children and their families. Throughout the text, a practical approach to working with children and families is taken when looking at many strategies to make education fit for all students.
Table of contents
  • Section 1: Welcoming Everybody
  •     Chapter 1: Appreciating All Kinds of Families
  •     Chapter 2: Working with Immigrant Families
  •     Chapter 3: Including Families of Children with Special Needs
  •     Chapter 4: Creating an Antibias Environment
  •     Chapter 5: Respecting All Families, Including Those with Same-Sex Parents
  • Section 2: Partnerships with Families
  •     Chapter 6: Building Partnerships
  •     Chapter 7: Removing Barriers to Partnerships
  •     Chapter 8: Minimizing Competition with Parents
  •     Chapter 9: Supporting Attachments
  •     Chapter 10: Considering Authority
  •     Chapter 11: Focusing on Family Strengths
  •     Chapter 12: Helping Parents to Be Advocates for Their Children
  •     Chapter 13: Encouraging Parents to Become Advocates for All Children
  •     Chapter 14: Creating a Sense of Community
  • Section 3: Honoring and Working with Diversity
  •     Chapter 15: Understanding and Appreciating Cultural Differences
  •     Chapter 16: Establishing Culturally Responsive Education and Care
  •     Chapter 17: Working with Conflicts Around Education and Care Practices
  •     Chapter 18: Considering Cultural Differences in Guidance and Discipline
  •     Chapter 19: Working with Families Around What You Believe Are Harmful Practices
  •     Chapter 20: Thinking about Differing Ideas Related to How Children Learn
  •     Chapter 21: Managing Conflicts 
  • Section 4: Family Participation and Education
  •     Chapter 22: Considering Family Participation
  •     Chapter 23: Including Families in the Classroom or Center
  •     Chapter 24: Focusing on Fathers and Grandfathers
  •     Chapter 25: Taking a Transformative Approach to Parent Education
  •     Chapter 26: Working With Families Around Holiday Issues
  •     Chapter 27: Exploring Parents' Role on Decision-Making Boards and Councils
  • Section 5: Communication
  •     Chapter 28: Creating Environments for Communication
  •     Chapter 29: Empowering Self and Others
  •     Chapter 30: Communicating Through Writing
  •     Chapter 31: Holding Ongoing Conversations with Families
  •     Chapter 32: Looking at Nonverbal Communication Across Cultures
  • Section 6: Meetings and Conferences
  •     Chapter 33: Meeting with Families for the First Time
  •     Chapter 34: Thinking About Meetings in General
  •     Chapter 35: Holding Conferences
  •     Chapter 36: Considering Cross-Cultural Conferences
  •     Chapter 37: Talking with Families when Concerns Arise
  • Section 7: Working with Parents around Specific Issues
  •     Chapter 38: Helping teh Child Enter the School or Program
  •     Chapter 39: Maintaining Home Languages
  •     Chapter 40: Easing Children Through Transitions
  •     Chapter 41: Brining Nature into Children's Lives
  •     Chapter 42: Addressing Obesity with Nutrition
  •     Chapter 43: Dealing with Media Issues
  •     Chapter 44: Maintaining Stability During Divorce
  •     Chapter 45: Coping with a Death in the Family
  •     Chapter 46: Finding Community Resources and Making Referrals
  • Section 8: Challenging Conversations
  •     Chapter 47: Working with Parents Who Constantly Complain
  •     Chapter 48: Working with Family Members Who Appear Hostile
  •     Chapter 49: Talking with Families About Behavior Changes
  •     Chapter 50: Referring Families for Abuse or Neglect