If you have had a chance to search the CLAS Materials section, we hope you have found a variety of resources to share with families and colleagues in your community. Many of these materials have been reviewed for cultural and linguistic appropriateness by the CLAS project, but you may want to keep in mind that some of these materials may be more appropriate or useful than others for families and service providers from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Because selecting appropriate materials is so important--and so difficult--we suggest that you first get to know your audience. One way to do that is to get to know yourself and how you differ from the families and children whom you serve. It is important to realize that few materials are likely to match the exact needs of individuals in your community. In many instances you may wish to make some simple adaptations to the materials before using them. We have included several suggestions for choosing materials that you also may wish to consider.
Based on the work of the CLAS Institute, we have developed a series of Review Guidelines to help practitioners select culturally and linguistically appropriate materials in the following areas:
After you have considered your audience, the Review Guidelines are designed to help you determine the congruence between the beliefs, values, and practices of the families in your community and current recommended practices in early childhood education and early childhood special education.
Each set of Review Guidelines will help you consider the overall effectiveness of presentation of a material, including whether the information is easy to follow and the extent to which the graphics, illustrations, or photographs are appropriate for the intended audience. Using the 1996 Division of Early Childhood's (DEC) Recommended Practices as a guiding framework, over 100 experts and professionals from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds in the field of early childhood/special education, bilingual education, and deaf education, were utilized to develop the Review Guidelines.
Special attention was given to considering issues of cultural and linguistic diversity, and a separate set of Review Guidelines is available to help select materials that have been translated from one language to another. The Review Guidelines were created with the current IDEA (1997) mandates in mind. It is our hope that you will use these Review Guidelines to stimulate meaningful dialogue with families and colleagues in your community, as you decide which materials to use in your early childhood setting.