Using funds of knowledge to build trust between a teacher and parents of language-delayed preschoolers
Preschool children with language delays often struggle to learn new concepts. Proven strategies such as modeling, prompting, reinforcing responses, direct teaching, and hands-on experience matter to young children with language delays. Also important are social interactions and shared experiences with more knowledgeable persons. Within a cultural context Funds of Knowledge, that is the talents, traditions, and abilities families possess and pass down to their children may be a context for these. However, despite their importance the value Funds of Knowledge have has not been explored with parents of children with special needs. This action research study used a mixed-methods design to understand if Funds of Knowledge could be used as context to improve communication between parents and their children and build trust between parents and a teacher. Seven families participated in the study. Quantitative data were gathered with surveys and were analyzed with descriptive statistics. Qualitative data consisted of transcripts from home-visit interviews, parent presentations, and a focus group, and were analyzed with a grounded theory approach. Results indicate parents entered the study with trust in the teacher especially in terms of having competence in her abilities. Data also show that parents used the language strategies provided to improve communication with their children. Data also indicate that the use of a Funds of Knowledge activity allowed parents to share their knowledge and interests with their children and children in the classroom, feel empowered, and express emotions. From these findings, implication for practice and further research are provided.