Reaching Out to Their Cultures: Building Communication with Asian-American Families
This paper discusses some misconceptions about Asian American elementary school and secondary school students, and describes ways of building effective communication with the families of these students. The essay begins by noting the stereotyping of Asian American students as "whiz kids" and discussing the damaging effect of that characterization for individual Asian American students. In reality, many Asian American students are not intellectually gifted, and many difficulties and problems exist among newly-immigrated families. A second section gives an overview of some key Asian American cultural values, focusing on views of family and the relationships between parents and children as they differ from mainstream U.S. culture. Also considered are Asian American parents' attitudes toward school, their expectation that schooling should be in the hands of educational professionals, parental sacrifice for children, and parents' imposition of guilt on their children. Recommendations for improved practice include language help with communication for parents, staff training in Asian American and Asian culture, special orientation for Asian American parents, school communication and interaction with the Asian American community, and face-to-face conversations and home visits. Included are 10 references.