Refugee children come to face with many adversities (both in quantity and in quality). They often experience trauma of war, expatriation and, in many cases, violent separation from their families.
Four domains of challenges faced by refugee children: emotional, linguistic, academic, and social.
pre-arrival trauma, conflict and violence can cause severe stress for refugee children and affect their cognitive functions and academic performance. Refugee children often become mentally withdrawn in class, aggressive towards their peers or find it difficult to concentrate.
language distance can also cause difficulties for refugee children. Lack of knowledge of the country’s arrival language, illiteracy and little or no formal schooling can further exacerbate the barriers to refugee children’s school integration by affecting their ability to learn a new language and cognitive test performance. They are more likely to fail or drop out altogether. due to their limited language skills, it is much more difficult for them to blend in and make friends, especially where competition among peers is prominent. Children who feel that they can’t fit in, may be more susceptible to bullying, which in turn alienates them even more, creating a vicious circle.
expectation on the part of the children to adapt to new teaching practices, school routines and learning styles in the host country. Plus, many refugee students experience discrimination in schools not only from their peers, but also from teachers.
Refugee students in schools often feel uncomfortable expressing their issues and concerns to teachers and administrators who are primarily English speaking, and racially white (study in Canada: Ryan, Pollock, and Antonelli (2009). Children can feel distanced also from their parents who lack native language skills and may not be familiar with a certain school system.
*Enculturation is how an individual, usually a child, develops his/her views about the world. Children are first enculturated at home through the influence of their parents. As they grow, their enculturation process involves teachers, friends, and other individuals. On the other hand, acculturation is when one learns about and becomes assimilated to a culture other than their native one. Both processes are crucial for individuals in developing their own culture, becoming a member of their chosen cultural group. It is also how individuals become accepted in their local community. An educational model that best incorporates the above processes is the ‘multi-cultural school’ approach.
The aim of this workshop is to encourage educators to understand and connect with the experience of migration and assist refugee students in communicating their past in the classroom. It is inspired by object-based learning, a popular technique among museum educators that overcomes the language barrier between refugee and native students.