Early Literacy Experiences of Punjabi Children in

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Suman, Annie
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This study examined the perspectives and experiences of Punjabi parents of sending their children to school in Brampton, Ontario. The data was analyzed in terms of the differences in socio-cultural practices that impacted the integration of Punjabi children in the 'westernized' school culture of Ontario. Cultural differences in students within a dominant school discourse are often misunderstood or misinterpreted as impoverished skills and knowledge. Consequently, children whose skills are not congruent with that of the mainstream culture are seen as less successful and they have to make substantial efforts to 'integrate for success' in the school discourse. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with a small parent sample drawn from the Punjabi community from the researcher's Grade One class. The analysis highlighted three themes in terms of socio-cultural differences: cultural models, social identity, literacy traditions; that reflected aspects of the Punjabi ethnic culture which were consistent with, or deviant from, the mainstream school culture. The study reflected on the social and educational realities that Punjabi children brought to school and concluded that their perceptions, knowledge and skills shaped by their early enculturation into the Punjabi community can facilitate or inhibit their enculturation into the 'westernized' school culture. The findings are helpful in giving a better understanding of the challenges Punjabi children face when adapting to the new dominant school discourse in Ontario.
Primary education , Punjabi children , Brampton, Ontario , Literacy