7 Tips for Supporting Immigrant Students and Families. Having to deal with life’s challenges is difficult, but the hardest are those where we feel we have no control; same is the situation of vulnerable immigrant students and families. Schools, however, can respond to such fragility and ensure academic, social, and emotional well-being of the student.
Read on to find how educators can support immigrant students and families.
Table of Contents
Be their informal immigration agent
Being conscious of the current policies and events goes a long way. Depending on the country and state, openly discussing immigrant students’ rights may or may not be permitted. Still, you can distribute “Know your rights” guides to all staff members, students, and their families. For instance, according to US laws:
- ICE cannot talk to the family without a warrant.
- ICE cannot force them to speak nor demand them to sign anything.
This guide will ensure that students and their families will be protected under the law when ICE comes knocking on their doors.
Create an immigration raid emergency plan: Immigrant families do not plan for such events; guide and take necessary measures to make them proactive.
Overcome language barriers
Language is the significant factor that distinguishes an immigrant student. It makes communication and learning hard, but it doesn’t mean that educators cannot overcome that challenge. Take the help of an interpreter to facilitate the students and families with easy communication. Moreover, make the staff members mindful of language differences and discuss how you can address the gaps.
Preferred communication channel: know about the family’s preferred communication channel and try to use that mode. Also, take the help of in-house interpreters while communicating with the family.
ESL classes for families and students: enhance ESL courses and distribute necessary materials not only to the students but also the families.
Shaping a cross-culture curriculum will allow immigrant students to engage more in the new environment. Note that an all-inclusive curriculum doesn’t mean sharing a vision only academically it also extends to activities happening outside the class. Schools should mind everyone’s perspectives—teachers, other students, counselors—and articulate practices that address diversity.
However, this will not be achievable if everyone doesn’t have a moral commitment towards inclusive school culture; so, work collectively.
Reach out to Non-profit Organizations
Communities provide valuable support to immigrant families and are also aware of many aspects related to immigration. Connecting the families with such alliances will help them meet their needs. Likewise, the presence of immigrant agents in such communities will also aid the family with legal support.
Social and Emotional Support
Migration poses challenges to students and families on different levels; thus, stress, fear, trauma, and depression are common among immigrant students. And, the ideal manner to overcome this is by intensifying relationships. Educators can arrange recurrent sittings with the student (if possible, the families) and provide them with professional development in various topics.
Another aspect that schools should focus on is the student’s willingness; migrant students assume that they will get deported and lose motivation to focus on their academic and social life. Additionally, educators can take the help of the immigration agent and inform their status clearly to the students.
Avoid special education classes
According to the OECD PISA survey, migration students who enroll in preparatory classes perform poorer when compared to the students who have enrolled in mainstream classes right from the start. Yes, it is critical to provide them with language training but offering such training in addition to, not instead of, regular classes is the right approach. Besides, each student’s needs differ from others—so, assess students on an individual basis and accordingly implement strategies to help them.
Foster cultural awareness and encourage engagement
Immigrant students will feel more welcomed if educators acquaint them with their cultural heritage. And in turn, learn about theirs from the immigrant students. Besides being relevant to academics, teaching the immigration students about culture allows them to explore the new world and inspires them to connect with other students on an emotional level.
Teach them about their role as citizens: if the student’s age approves, familiarizing them with their roles as citizens is another way to incorporate the new culture into their lifestyle.
Civic engagement: states require immigrants to take different tests before granting them nationality; without the active commitment, of both students and their families, integration into the host country will be challenging. So, become aware of any such tests (posted by the state) and help students participate in the new social norms.
Stories from across the world are proving that the active involvement of schools is making a real difference in the lives of immigrant students and families. Simply, creating a small professional network and forming a relationship with the family can make a big difference in the student’s life.