Early Years Learners and Funds of Knowledge

So What are Funds of Knowledge?
Funds of knowledge can be defined as ‘the bodies of knowledge, including information, skills, and strategies, which underlie houshold functioning, development, and well-being’ (Hedges, 2010 p.189). Every person encompases a funds of knowledge from their own life experiences, their interests and their skills which can be utilised for assisting others or for catering to teaching to ensure motivation and enjoyment. To complete this task the funds of knowledge of this group was drawn upon as we each have various interests and skills which were utilised for the production of the Wiki.
By capitalising on household and other community resources (Moll et al 1992, p.132) teachers can produce quality instruction in the classroom.

Constructivist theorist Les Vygotsky believed children’s ‘informal daily interactions provide a bank of experiences to draw upon’ (Hedges, 2010 p.189) in which to develop formal teaching programmes of interest to that child. By incorporating information that the child has a connection with into thinking and learning in the classroom, teachers are ensuring children are equiped with the knowledge and skills needed for their literacy development. In order to prove this theory, a study (Hedges, 2010 p. 192-198) completed in New Zealand proved the following area’s of a child’s life as ‘powerful primary sources of influence on a child’s funds of knowledge’ thus affecting their interests, inquiries and learning:
  • Families were powerful primary sources of influence on children’s funds ofknowledge-based interests and inquiries.
    • Participation with parents in household and domestic tasks
    • Parents’ occupations
    • Parents’ interests, talents, and leisure activities
    • Parents’ language, values, and beliefs
    • Grandparents’ occupations, leisure activities, and interests
    • Siblings’ and cousins’ activities, interests, and language
  • Holidays and other community experiences
    • Community-based funds of knowledge
    • Popular culture.
Study of funds of knowledge

Placement Examples:
At a local primary school the funds of knowledge of a particular student was utilised to assist teachers and their peers whilst studying Anzac day. This child’s parent is a member of the Army and so has much knowledge and interest in this topic that he was used as a resource. This allowed the child to feel very included in the learning and the teaching processes, providing him with a sense of ownership and pride.

At a second local school one child had extensive knowledge of Australian Rules Football which was a large part of his life as he went to games regularly and was a bonding time for him and his father. This was used by the teachers to keep his interest whilst doing multiplications of six, writing an exposition and many other learning areas.

The teachers tapped into their own funds of knowledge of the local community including the nearby parks and beaches to the people in the area. By understanding what makes up the students local community and what issues they are faced with on a daily basis, teachers show their students an interest in them and their daily lives.

(Boen, J 2009)

Why is it so Important to Know Our Students’ Backgrounds?
  • Links to families
  • Greater learning experiences tap into what they're interested in
  • Shows you care about them
  • Understand their communities
  • Use their knowledge to create learning programs they will thrive in due to interest
Jacobo's story (Genzuk 1999, pp. 12-13)
  • Jacobo lacking in literacy skills
  • Student teachers do home visit to tap into his family life and his interests to see if they can incorporate these into the classroom.
  • They discover a massive interest of his being mechanics - this links to time spent with his dad also
  • The student teachers bring in a journal for him to write in or draw pictures every week to develop his literacy skills, which works for him

Tapping into community funds of knowledge by M. Genzuk

Placement Examples:
Funds of knowledge questioning of two Grade 1 female students and a Grade 2 female student

Children's Interests

Child 1
Child 2
Child 3
Playing computer games
Playing computer games
Hop scotch
Pretend play
Playing with siblings



Playing with animals

Playing with friends

From this table it is clear that each child has various interests, places they go and who they play with whilst some aspects are the same or similar such as the pool, and reading. For teachers, this means that lessons must be developed to ensure the diversity of each of their students is met. This could be by developing a whole class lesson around interests and abilities which majority enjoy or by adapting lessons for individual children to include their interests. The important thing to think about with funds of knowledge is that alot of children may change their interests or adopt new ones over the course of the year. An effective teacher will stay in tune with what their students are doing and what their interests are to include any new areas that will assist them with their learning.

How Do We Incorporate Funds of Knowledge in Our Classrooms?
  • Develop a rapport with students: ask them about their weekends, what they did, who they saw
  • Actively participate in questioning students and their families to find links to skills and interests
  • Create a community sheet where students answer questions about their families: how many in fam, pets, what they do on weekends, play sports, fav places to go etc
  • Ask students to create a comic strip of a typical day/week/weekend for their family: who is involved, where do they go, and what do they do?

  • Use picture book (see below 'In My Family') to create discussions around what their families do at home - differences and similarities with our families
  • Routinesin_my_family_book.jpg
  • Interests - what do they do on weekends? Where do they go?