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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Challenge or opportunity? : Strengths and resources of culturally and linguistically diverse young children and their families: home, school, and community beliefs Wakefield, P. Jane


The strengths and resources available to children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families have often been ignored as important contributions to school success, suggesting a divide exists between our knowledge of children’s lives and educational policy and practice. This descriptive embedded case study, set in an urban school in a CALD neighbourhood, addresses this divide by examining the perspectives of stakeholders about those strengths and resources. Specifically, the study examines family, community, and school beliefs about the strengths and resources that CALD children and families bring to children’s transition to the first year of school. Bourdieu’s concepts of family habitus and cultural capital in considering children’s strengths and resources and Bronfenbrenner’s ecological framework to attend to the developing child’s concentric contexts, along with reinterpretations of Bourdieu, informed the study’s approach to the positive resources that children can contribute to schooling, through their families and communities. Data sources included demographic questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with 34 participants. The interview findings were coded into nine descriptive themes across participant groups which were subsequently categorized and presented under four constructs drawn from the study’s theoretical and research framework: 1) Negotiating Cultural Identity 2) Opportunities to Access Capital: Barriers and Facilitators 3) Roles and Responsibilities in Supporting CALD Children and Families 4) Practices that Support CALD Children and Families A description of beliefs and expectations about this topic helps shed light upon how the strengths and resources that CALD children and families bring to schooling can help enhance educational opportunity. It also points the way to the consideration of collaborative and culturally responsive practices that can reduce inequities across children’s contexts. The perspectives shared by participants in this study provided valuable insight into the beliefs that family, school, and community stakeholders hold about the strengths and resources of CALD children and families. These beliefs also point the way toward more contextually and culturally nuanced insights into the multiple levels of interactions amongst families, schools, and communities.

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