Advancing School Readiness with the Office of Head Start’s Multicultural Principles Spring to Spring Series


The National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsivenesss (NCCLR) Spring to Spring series is designed to help programs to develop culturally and linguistically competent systems and services. Every other month, the series will highlight one Multicultural Principle. It also will provide corresponding NCCLR resources on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center ECLKC. Staff will learn to use culturally responsive practices when supporting children’s progress toward school readiness.

Multicultural Principle 6

Effective programs for children who speak languages other than English require continued development of the first language while the acquisition of English is facilitated.

Children who speak languages other than English make up one third of the Head Start enrollment. They speak more than 140 languages and are enrolled in nearly nine out of 10 Head Start programs. It is critical that Head Start staff and policy makers understand how to best support the development and school readiness of these young dual language learners DLLs.

Research has found that effective programs for DLLs support the development of children’s home languages while they learn English. It dispels concerns that learning two languages, whether simultaneously or sequentially, may cause delays in either language. In fact, there are multiple benefits to becoming bilingual or multilingual. When children’s home language is supported, knowledge and concepts they learn in their home language are transferred when they learn the vocabulary in English. For example, they may learn shape concepts in their home language and then the names of shapes in English. It is important that Head Start staff understand Multicultural Principle 6 and the science behind it so they can create sound language policies, use effective curriculum methods, and individualize for each DLL.

Featured Resources

Important to Know: Dual Language Learner Facts, Figures, and Findings

Learn the definition of “dual language learner” as defined in the Head Start Act. Find data around the number of DLLs enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start in each of the 12 regions and other key findings.

The Importance of Home Language Series

School readiness for DLLs is tied directly to the mastery of their home language. This series of handouts provides basic information on topics related to children learning two or more languages. The handouts emphasize the benefits of being bilingual, the importance of maintaining home language, and the value of becoming fully bilingual.

Gathering and Using Language Information that Families Share

In order to support the learning and development of young DLLs, staff need to understand children’s backgrounds and experiences with more than one language. This resource helps programs learn to gather accurate and useful language information for assessment and curriculum planning.

Same, Different, and Diverse

DLLs are a diverse group with different languages, experiences, strengths, and gifts. This resource outlines the language similarities among all children. It also points outs the differences between children learning two or more languages and those learning one language.

The Revisiting and Updating the Multicultural Principles for Head Start Programs Serving Children Ages Birth to Five page contains PDFs for each principle. A full version of the resource also is available.

How to Subscribe

Select this link to subscribe to the series and view previous issues:

Please share this message with all staff in your program who may be interested in participating.


If you have questions about these resources or the Spring to Spring series, please contact NCCLR at or

Source: National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness and Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center

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