Involving Immigrant and Refugee Families in Their Children's Schools: Barriers, Challenges, and Successful Strategies
Adult Learning Resource Center
Des Plaines, IL: Adult Learning Resource Center
2003, 13 pages
Outlines effective strategies for getting immigrant and refugee families involved in their children's schools. Among the many factors that cause some immigrant and refugee parents to be isolated from the community at large are limited English language skills, fear of violence in the community, demanding work schedules, family trauma, and lack of a welcoming atmosphere in the schools. Proven strategies that educational and social service agency practitioners can use to overcome these challenges, include: (1) partnering with community-based organizations and refugee resettlement agencies to provide translation assistance; (2) developing welcome videos and offering orientation sessions in different languages and in locations other than school that are familiar to refugee families; (3) producing parent handbooks in a variety of languages; (4) mentoring new families and conducting home visits with bilingual staff; (5) providing on-site programs to teach parents English language skills; (6) varying the time and day of parent activities to accommodate parents' changing work schedules; (7) hosting social events; and (8) providing in-service training of school personnel on effective methods of communicating with immigrant and refugee parents. In order for these steps to be successful, the principal wholeheartedly needs to support the school's outreach efforts.