Engaging with Families and Communities

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSES2021034

Semester and Year Offered: Semester II Year 1

Course Coordinator and Team: Monimalika Day

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None


This course will enable students to deepen their understanding of children and their families, in the context of their socio-cultural environment, their communities. These contexts are dynamic systems influenced by social, cultural and political forces. The concept of ecology is traditionally applied to the study of plants and environments but is equally important to consider, as we try to understand the complex processes of development and learning. This involves examining the psychological, biological, social and cultural context in which a child lives and grows. Context maybe studied through a different number of lenses. In this course, students will become aware of socio-cultural perspective, the ecological systems theory and the family systems theory. Moreover, students will learn how to develop a posture of reciprocity and engage with families and community members to develop culturally responsive programs for children. Begins to explore how ecology and socialization influence development and learning of young children.

Course Outcomes:

  1. Understands the complexity of engaging with families from various socio cultural background.
  2.  Knows the basic theories and research that support family centered approach in early childhood programs.
  3. Knows how to obtain information from families and synthesize information received from various sources.
  4.  Reflects on one’s own ability to engage with families from diverse backgrounds
  5.  Engages with families and communities through respectful and reciprocal relationship.
  6. Examines ethical issues related to engaging with families of young children.


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1: The changing nature of families and communities: ecological systems perspective (4 Weeks)

This unit focuses on how the family works from a systems perspective. The relationships between family members are such that whatever happens to one member of a family influences all others. The goal is to engage students in reflective practice and provide different conceptual frameworks that will help them to understand and empathize with families.

  • The importance of working with families
  • Theories on children and families: the ecological theory
  • Examining socialization in the context of families, education programs, and communities
  • Ecology of socialization
  • Family systems perspective
  • Family life cycle
  • · Historical and current roles of families


Unit 2:Approaches to working with families and communities (4 weeks)

Professionals and researchers need to be familiar with existing approaches to work effectively with families and form collaborative relationships and acquire the necessary skills.

  • Appropriate methods of obtaining information from families
  • Principles of family centred practices
  • The process of cultural reciprocity
  • The concept of third space
  • Mapping resources and developing responsive programs


Assessment Details with weights:

S. No.








Individual or group

Mode and Percentage


Class Participation

Attending classes in a regular and timely manner. Participation in class discussion and in class assignments based on reading the literature from the required texts.






Family Systems Theory

Interview a family member and write a paper reflecting on the Family Systems Theory proposed by Turnbull et al. (2006). Briefly describe the theory and attempt to apply the framework to understand your family’s composition and interactions. Critique the theory based on your experience of connecting it to your own family situation.





Community Assignment

This assignment gives you an opportunity to visit a community that is unfamiliar to you and engage in dialogues with community members to learn about the history, demographics, current activities and major concerns of this group.


Furthermore, you need to learn about the lives of young children in these communities through observing them in their natural settings, interviews with families, and informal conversations with children. You will work in small groups to gather information, analyze information to understand existing power hierarchies, and conduct a group presentation in class.

Group: Interview and observe your peers interviewing families and provide critical feedback. Together create a poster following the community walk and share your what you learned in a group presentation.


Individual: Each student will interview two families and write a report on their findings. The information must be analyzed based on class readings. Specifically, explore and try to identify examples of parental ethnotheories. In addition all students are required to write a short reflective paper.

Please see detailed guidelines for assignment.



Group Presentation: 20 points


Final Report: 30 points





Reading List:

Module I

  • Harkness,S., Super, C. M., Bermudez, M.R., Moscardino, U., Rha, J., Mavridis,C.J.,
  • Bonichini,S., Huitron,B., Welles-Nystrom,B., Palacios,J., Hyun, O., Soriano,G., Zylicz,P.O. Parental ethno theories of children’s learning. In The anthropology of learning in childhood, edited by D.F Lancy., J. Bock., S. Gaskins. U.K: Alta Mira Press. Retrieved from
  • Kagitcibasi, C. (2007). Family , self and human development across cultures: Theory and applications. New Jersey, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Chapter 1: Introduction (1-23 pgs.)
  • Chapter 2: Development in context ( 27-56 pgs)
  • Turnbull, A., Turnbull, R., Erwin, E., & Soodak, L., Shogren, K.A.(2010) Families, professionals, and exceptionality: Positive outcomes through partnership and trust. Columbus, OH: Prentice Hall. ISBN-13: 9780137070480
  • Chapter 2: Family Interaction (27-30 pgs)
  • Chapter 3: Family functions (49-69 pgs)
  • Winnicott, D.W. (1964) The child, the family and the outside world. England: Penguin Books.
  • A man looks at motherhood (15-18 pgs)
  • What about father (113-118pgs)
  • Needs of Under-Fives (179-188 pgs)

Module II

  • Anandalakshmy, N. Chaudhary and N. Sharma. (1999). Researching families and children: Culturally appropriate methods. (pp. 233 - 241). New Delhi: Sage.
  • Barrera. I & Corso, Kramer, L., Macpherson, D., Paris, C (2003). Skilled Dialogue: Strategies for responding to cultural diversity in early childhood (second edition). Paul.H. Brookes: Baltimore. ISBN: 978-159857164
  1. Chapter 4: Skilled dialogue: foundational concepts (41-51pgs.)
  2. Chapter 5: Anchored understanding of diversity (53-74pgs.)
  3. Chapter 6: 3rd Space (75-88pgs.)

Day, M., Demulder, E.K., & Stribling S. M. (2010). Using the process of cultural reciprocity to create multicultural, democratic classrooms. In Salili, F., & R. Hoosain

(Eds.), Democracy and Multicultural Education. Information Age Publishing.


Module I

  • Berns, M. (2012). Child, family, school and community: Socialization and support. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning
  • Chaudhary, N. (2013). Parent beliefs, socialisation practices and children’s development inIndian families.Unpublished report of a major research project funded by the University Grants Commission, New Delhi.
  • Gottlieb, A. (2009). Who Minds the Baby? Beng Perspectives on Mothers, Neighbors, and Strangers as Caretakers. In, G. Bentley and R. Mace (Eds.), Substitute Parents: Alloparenting in Human Societies. (Pp 115 – 138). Oxford: Bergahn (Biosocial Society Symposium Series).
  • Gulzar, M. (2007). The ‘reel’ Indian family: Reflections from celluloid. In, M. Lal& S Kakar, S., &Kakar, K. (2007).The Indians: Portrait of a people. New Delhi: Penguin.
  • Jain, A., &Belsky, J. (1997). Fathering and acculturation: Immigrant Indian families with young children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 59, 873 – 883.
  • Kapadia, S. (2008). Cultural perspectives on parenting in the context of globalization and acculturation: Viewpoints from India and Canada. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 3(10), 171-178.
  • Mullatti, L. (1995). Families in India: Beliefs and realities. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 26(1), 11 – 25.

Module II

  • Chatterji, S. A. (2007). The family in flux: The decimated family in Rituparna Ghosh’s films. In, M. Lal& S. Dasgupta (eds.), The Indian family in transition: Reading literary and cultural texts. (pp. 243 – 279). New Delhi: Sage.
  • Chaudhary, N. (2007). The family: Negotiating cultural values. In J. Valsiner and A. Rosa.Cambridge handbook of social psychology. (pp. 524 – 539). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
  • Chaudhary, N. (2009). Families and children in poverty: Objective definitions, subjective lives. In A. C. Bastos& E. P. Rabinovich (Ed.), Living in poverty: Developmental poetics of cultural lives. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
  • Chaudhary, N. (2012). Father’s role in the Indian family: A story that must be told. In D. Shwalb, B. Shwalb, & M. Lamb (Eds.), The father’s role: Cultural perspectives. New York: Routledge.
  • Chaudhary, N. & Bhargava, P. (2006).Mamta: The transformation of meaning in everyday usage. Contributions to Indian Sociology, 40(3), 343 – 375.
  • Nair, S., Niranjan, S. & Roy, T. K. (2005).A socio-demographic analysis of size and structure of the family in India.Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 36(4), 623 – 651.
  • Gonzalez-Mena, J.(2009). Child, family, and community: Family-Centered early care and education. Pearson
  • Uberoi, P. (2003). The family in India: Beyond the nuclear and joint debate. In V. Das, (Ed.) The Oxford India companion to Sociology and Social Anthropology. Pp.1061 – 1103. New Delhi Oxford University Press.