Barratt-Pugh is Professor of Early Childhood in the School of Education at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia. She is a national leader in language and literacy research programs. She has published widely and presented at national and international conferences and is a member of several professional literacy organisations.
Working at the cultural interface: Creating a third space for literacy learning with Aboriginal families in Western Australia.
Aboriginal families and educators worked together, on a school based site, to create culturally and linguistically relevant learning spaces. The confluence of knowledges led to positive literacy experiences in a space where families, children and educators thrived through a relevant, appropriate and stimulating literacy curriculum. However, working at the cultural interface was complex and multifaceted and led to significant challenges.
KindiLink is a Western Australian play-and-learn initiative, held on school sites for three-year-old Aboriginal children, who attend with a family member. Families and educators jointly construct the program as a means of developing cross-cultural understanding of ways of being, knowing and doing. Language and literacy are central components of the initiative, creating a bridge between home and school. Using a mixed method, including surveys, case studies and reflective journals, families, Aboriginal Islander Education Assistants, teachers and principals were invited to take part in an evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of KindiLink on 37 sites. Evidence suggests that the joint construction of the program helped to create a third safe place for learning. Families reported an increase in capacity and confidence as their child’s first educator, as they integrated their language and literacy knowledge into the KindiLink program and incorporated KindiLink activities into home literacy practices. Families indicated that sharing and making two-way books, telling stories and singing songs in their community language and creating a literacy rich environment which reflected their practices, had increased their child’s engagement in learning and sense of belonging. A number of challenges were identified which included deep and equitable exchange and understating of language and literacy practices. The potential of KindiLink to make a difference to some families and schools is clear, however, the shift of power is a complex and will take time, commitment and deep understanding between families and schools. Listening to the voices of families was the beginning of that journey for KindiLink.