Elder inclusion in ECD Settings from the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society
What You Need to Know About the Inclusion of Elders in Early Childhood Development Settings is a new resource sheet available from the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society. The downloadable pamphlet sets the scene for elder inclusion in ECD programming as follows:
Elders have special status in First Nations and other Aboriginal communities. The esteem shown to Elders is a core cultural value and source of strength. Elders in Indigenous communities have always shared their knowledge of language and cultural traditions with children. Today, Elder participation in early childhood programs yields benefits for the children, for the Elders themselves, and for the community as a whole. The children learn from the Elders, the educators model the protocols of respectful interactions with Elders, and overall community wellbeing is enhanced. Elders who become involved in early childhood programs experience the satisfactions that come with enriching the lives of children. Elder involvement is essential to addressing the culture and language component of Aboriginal Head Start and BC First Nations Head Start and it is an indicator of quality in all Aboriginal early childhood programs.
The resource sheet looks at how children should be prepared to respectfully interact with Elders, including:
- Behaviour expectations
- Showing appreciation
Benefits of Elder participation are outlined and suggestions given on a range of ways in which Elders might participate in programming:
- As occasional visitors
- As volunteer cultural consultants
- As hired cultural consultants
- As employees with early childhood qualifications
Information is provided on how ECD programs can assist Elders through the criminal record check process, where their participation meets the “ordinarily present” criteria, and how to accommodate participation at an occasional level where an Elder considers the requirement to be insulting or uncomfortable.
The pamphlet offers a number of suggested ways in which ECD programs that do not have established relationships with Elders can reach out to Elders in the community.