Children teaching parents about Aboriginal culture: Canadian study

Apr 16, 2012

In a unique role reversal, children in literacy programs for indigenous families are learning about Aboriginal culture and language and teaching it to their parents – many of whom are missing this knowledge because of Canada’s history of residential schools and child welfare removal policies. This reversal is identified in a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

UBC Faculty of Education researchers Jan Hare and graduate student Nicola Friedrich studied the role of family literacy programming for Indigenous children and families taking part in Canada’s national Aboriginal early intervention program, Aboriginal Head Start (AHS).

“This study suggests that for families from diverse cultural and linguistic communities, there are multiple pathways to learning,” says Hare, who is presenting this research at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting in Vancouver. “Children become knowledge brokers, helping their parents navigate the expectations and norms within their families, schools and communities.”

Residential schools were established across Canada from 1850 to 1950.

“The residential school system disrupted the transmission of cultural knowledge and from parent to child across the generations,” says Hare, an associate professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education. “Today, many Aboriginal parents living in urban areas are dislocated from their culture, language and identity.”

The AHS program in Canada serves Aboriginal children and families in more than 130 urban and rural communities and nearly 350 First Nations communities.

AHS focuses on health promotion, social support, nutrition, family involvement, school readiness and culture and language. The program was developed as an early intervention strategy to address the learning and developmental needs of young children living in urban, rural and First Nations communities.

Hare, who studied the outcomes of eight AHS programs in central and western Canadian cities, found that children were sharing what they learned about culture and language from AHS with their parents.

“The transmission of knowledge from child to parent is significant,” says Hare. “It flips the mainstream model that family literacy programs tend to be based on, where teach .”

Explore further: Long-term survey to follow college students' experiences with faith, diversity

Related Stories

Understanding causes of obesity in Aboriginal children

Jan 24, 2012

To fully understand the causes of the obesity epidemic in Aboriginal children requires an understanding of the unique social and historical factors that shape the Aboriginal community. A review article published in Applied Ph ...

'Motherese' important for children's language development

May 06, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Talking to children has always been fundamental to language development, but new research reveals that the way we talk to children is key to building their ability to understand and create ...

Strong social networks mean less stress for parents

Nov 10, 2011

A U of A professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy has found that those conversations with fellow parents around the barbeque or at the playground can be important to maintaining a happy family.

ParentCorps helps children do better in school

Feb 04, 2011

Researchers at the NYU Child Study Center demonstrated that a brief program for families of Pre-Kindergarten students attending schools in disadvantaged urban communities improved children's behavior at school. The study, ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals a common beat in global music

Jun 29, 2015

A new study carried out by the University of Exeter and Tokyo University of the Arts has found that songs from around the world tend to share features, including a strong rhythm, that enable coordination ...

When times are tough, parents favor daughters over sons

Jun 29, 2015

In tough economic times, parents financially favor daughters over sons, according to researchers at the Carlson School of Management and Rutgers Business School. Their study, forthcoming in the Journal of ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.