Immigrant children face the same overwhelming changes as their parents including a new home, culture and language. On top of these big changes, immigrant children must keep up in school with kids their age. 25 percent of children in America are immigrants, and 1 million of them are undocumented. These millions of children from other countries have a lot to overcome to achieve an education in America.
Language barriers make learning and communication hard
While speaking more than one language has been proven to be beneficial to children, the process can be difficult. Children are thrown into a classroom based on age and are expected to keep up with the class and learn a whole new language. This can be frustrating and confusing to kids.
If they already have a strong understanding of English then they still have to face language barriers at home. If their parents have limited English-speaking skills then homework help is pretty much out of the question. Parents can feel shut out from their child's education. It is difficult to communicate with teachers about their child's performance.
Parents might have less education
It is common for families to immigrate to the U.S. to find a better life for their children. Some people have to choose between education and getting paid. Because of this some immigrant parents have lower levels of education and therefore have a hard time helping their children with school work. This can have an impact on how children perform at school.
Discrimination in the classroom
Children from other countries already have a hard time adjusting to a new home. On top of that, many kids face discrimination from classmates and even staff. Some kids get teased in class and feel increasingly isolated. This can give children a bad attitude towards school and their classmates, which reflects in their schoolwork. It is common for teachers not to understand their immigrant student's unique struggles.
How can parents help?
Parents often feel helpless when their children struggle in school, especially if there is a language barrier. They can also feel disappointed when their kids cannot keep up in class. It helps to keep an open communication with teachers. Even if parent-teacher meetings are filled with nothing but frustration, it can help to push through the barriers. Get your children after-school lessons to catch up.
At home talk with your kids and give them patience as they settle. Understand that they might feel scared, confused or isolated in this new place. Give them space to talk and encourage them to keep trying. If you or your children are not yet citizens then you can help build your family's future by seeking a status adjustment, a visa or citizenship with an attorney.