Diversity training supports educational mediators in working with families and communities

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Smooth adaptation from home to educational institution is a key prerequisite for accelerating the progress of Roma children, for two-thirds of whom Bulgarian is a second language, different from the language they first learn at home. Early parental support for learning at home, as well as the early formation of positive attitudes and habits towards the education system, are also significant factors in children’s educational achievement at school. In this process, educational mediators in kindergartens play an important role in helping children and parents to adapt-especially in sparsely populated, hard-to-reach and socio-economically vulnerable communities.

Educational mediators in kindergartens help build trust between families and the kindergarten and serve as an effective channel of communication. They encourage parents to attend regularly and re-enroll at drop-off, and generally help build a learning community and children’s sense of comfort and belonging in that community. Through their work, mediators act as a role model in the community, not only for the children but also for the parents.

Against the background of these important functions and roles of educational mediators, it is important that they are supported systematically to increase their knowledge and skills in working with children and their families. The TSA advocates the need for a targeted policy towards professional qualifications and career development opportunities for educational mediators, in particular those working in kindergartens.

As part of this effort, in 2023 we adapted and piloted a two-day training program for educational mediators in kindergartens under the “Together in a Colorful World’ model within the REYN Network.

“Together in a Colourful World” is a model for professional training and support for education professionals and those working with children, ensuring that every child and their family are included, respected and valued in a shared process of achieving educational goals. By guiding participants through a process of personal transformation, “Together in a Colorful World” helps preschool/school professionals become aware of the responsibilities they have and the capacity they possess to effect change toward a society based on social cohesion and inclusion. TSA has been licensed by Step by Step International Association to disseminate the programme in Bulgaria since 2017.

In the summer of 2023, two training groups were held in the town of Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv. Over 30 educational mediators from kindergartens all over the country received knowledge about the role of identity and culture in the socialization and development of children, the harm of prejudice and stereotypes and how to recognize them in a timely manner, as well as concrete ideas for better interaction with the families and communities they work with, including communication with the kindergarten, support for learning at home, etc.

The REYN Network will continue to actively seek opportunities to support educational mediators in kindergartens as an important factor in the success of the interaction between educational institutions and children and families.

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