Chapter 4 - Strategies to build ties with immigrant parents

Educators need new skills to work with refugee and migrant children.

In different countries, teachers can be trained to work with immigrant children and their parents.

There are many ways how to bond with immigrant parents. Countries around the world have similar approaches but there can be differences from country to country. Here are some ideas:

  1. All parents and children who interact with prekindergarten staff must be treated in a friendly manner and with respect. Staff should learn at least to say hello in their language.
  2. A trained interpreter who shares the cultural background of the parents, helps building strong communication between parents and programs.
  3. If possible: all staff should clearly communicate with immigrants: from bus drivers to administrators to teachers, that the program intends to be inclusive of all children in the community, whatever their backgrounds.
  4. Cultural sensitivity training for teachers and staff are very useful.
  5. Inviting parents into their kindergartens/schools for a variety of activities.
  6. Parents sometimes may not be familiar with how kindergartens operate and what they expect from parents.
  7. “Cultural nights,” where parents can share food from their home country.
  8. Monthly breakfast, where parents can stay at school after dropping off their kids, enjoy some food, and hear from a local celebrity, such as someone from the local news station.
  9. Educational and informational sessions, covering topics such as children’s health and discipline, children’s early brain development, and the importance of early education; such programs could be focused on topics of particular interest to immigrant parents.
  10. Programs reported working toward more culturally competent programs through two main strategies: hiring from within diverse communities and training existing staff. Hiring bicultural assistant teachers is also possible. Bringing parent volunteers into the classroom can support cultural competency.

(Julia Gelatt, Gina Adams, and Sandra Huerta, Supporting Immigrant Families’ Access to Prekindergarten; and other authors)