Real People, Real needs
Schools and early-year settings are often very positive about how the presence of refugee children has enriched the lives of the school community and the learning environment. Refugee families are supportive of schools and their children can be highly motivated to learn and make progress. Some children may be re-settled in other countries like America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and other places with both parents; others may only have one parent caring for them. Some children may live with older brothers and sisters, or with relatives and friends. Some children arrive alone and unaccompanied, without a parent or a guardian.
Schools and early-year providers play a vital role in promoting the well-being of refugee children, helping them to rebuild their self-esteem and friendships, and progress with their learning skills. Our teachers at SHELTER have gained considerable experience in working with refugee children and their families. They have become increasingly aware of their needs, and the necessity for professionals from different services to work closely with them. Refugee children and young people often find it harder to access education compared with other groups. Some children have been left without school places for long periods of time. It is essential that refugee children are provided with support to enable them to enroll in school as quickly as possible. Schools should also ensure that interpreters are provided when necessary. Support for refugee children is not a task for a small group of teachers working in isolation. It is a responsibility of a society.
In our SHELTER Refugee School, young refugee children benefit greatly from access to early-year educational provision. The support, facilities and care provided help them to feel safe and secure, develop confidence and promote their language and communication skills. Refugee parents and guardians with responsibility for young children, particularly women, may be new to a local area and lack family and a community support network. SHELTER welcomes refugee parents and involves them in the life of nursery schools, children’s centres, pre-school groups and other early-year settings which help to reduce isolation and assist their integration into the local communities.
Young refugee children come to early-year educational settings with diverse backgrounds and needs. In learning environments that are vibrant, purposely, challenging and supportive, they can develop into confident and successful learners and reach their full potential. By contributing to the community, young refugee children and their families are able to integrate fully. The early-year educational settings provide safe and secure environments for the children and their families, together with opportunities to make friends in the community. They also play an important role in raising awareness in the host community of the benefits of cultural diversity.