Through their family, a child engages in their earliest and closest relationships and it is within these relationships that children experience the cultural belief system of their parents and family. These cultural belief systems are translated into parenting practices and guidance for child development. The home culture, including language/s, creates the background for all interactions and early learning within the family. In addition, the family culture provides the child with a sense of identity and a framework for interpreting the world. Every family has its own cultural and linguistic background and brings its unique experience, values, and beliefs to being a family and raising young children. The family’s cultural influence on health, growth and development, child-rearing, family relationships, and learning expectations shapes the child’s (and family’s) development, school readiness and school success.

The Illinois Early Learning Council recently adopted guiding principles related to cultural and linguistic responsiveness in early childhood programming; within these principles is a collective vision that each and every child will have early childhood experiences that promote healthy development that respects, promotes, and builds on their cultural, racial, ethnic, and other family backgrounds and experiences. The Guiding Principles include a commitment to ensuring the following characteristics exist to support services to young children:
•    Early childhood professionals who understand that developing a child’s first language supports the acquisition of a second language.
•    Early childhood classrooms that embrace and include a rich range of diversity, allowing all to learn from it and enhancing all children’s learning and development.
•    Teacher preparation programs that incorporate the individual and unique needs of each child and family and the experiences they bring to the classroom.
•    Programming that incorporates all types of diversity, including but not limited to: gender, culture, language, ethnicity, ability, race and economic status.
•    Policy implementation that reinforces families and communities as children’s first teachers.
•    Diverse state and local organizations and agencies that are meaningfully responsive to each and every child and family they serve.

The Award of Excellence for Linguistic and Culturally Appropriate Practice, part of ExceleRate Illinois, reflects and advances these principles, including the acknowledgment of the fact that supporting dual language learners rests in the very best of all teaching practices and instructional quality. The teaching practices must include a responsiveness to the children and regard for their perspective, a sensitivity to their needs, and an ability to utilize a variety of instructional formats to reach and engage the children.


Please visit the following links for more information on the Award of Excellence for Linguistically and Culturally Appropriate Practice.

Linguistically and Culturally Appropriate Practice Standards (299 KB)

Linguistically and Culturally Appropriate Practice Standards and Requirements (151 KB)

Frequently Asked Questions (315 KB)

School-Based Prerequisite Application and Supplement

Licensed Child Care Center Prerequisite Application and Supplement   

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