Stimulus Question 22.

What are the unique experiences and needs of asylum-seeker and refugee children and their families in early childhood education settings? How do these experiences and needs also impact the transition to school process?


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One comment on “Stimulus Question 22.”

  1. Meni T says:

    It is important as early childhood professionals we are aware of, sensitive to and well equipped to tailor our programs, our support and inclusive practices around the unique issues and challenges that have affected the refugee children and families in our early childhood education community.
    The journey of every refugee child and their family is unique.

    We can work towards ensuring that their early childhood and transition to school experience is supported and inclusive by:

    • Gaining a broad understanding of their refugee experience. As educators put yourself in the shoes of the child and reflect on the journey they have made, prior to turning up at your Service.

    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their child’s needs, likes, dislikes and what matters to them about the care and education you will be providing to their child.

    • Tap into Inclusion Support Programmes such as the Bicultural Support Program. Bicultural Support Workers are a human resource, that can play a critical role in supporting refugee children in care. They have received specific training on working with refugee children, and some may be of refugee status themselves. They work on various levels, supporting children with settling in, language support, feeling comfortable and safe, acting as a communication and information bridge between the parents and staff, providing strategies to assist with cultural transition and ways to connect with refugee communities.

    In terms of appropriate Transition to School experiences – it’s one thing to provide information to families in their language about the process, but another to actually physically support them through this often overwhelming, unfamiliar journey. Bicultural Support Workers have successfully supported families during this process (including support with school readiness, assistance with school enrolment etc).

    • Develop inclusive programs for all the children at your service, that structure discussions about refugees, promote empathy, diversity, mutual respect and social justice. Ensure that the voices of your refugee children are heard.

    • Design and implement programs that nurture and instil the ‘Being, Belonging and Becoming’ of refugee children in your care. Create a sense of ‘Belonging’ by providing and maintaining a safe, nurturing, familiar and predictable environment and one where the refugee child feels comfortable and safe in their experiences and identity.

    • Provide culturally appropriate services for your refugee families (Bicultural Support Workers, bilingual staff, interpreters, translated information) and deliver culturally and linguistically relevant activities that promote the child’s home language and cultural self esteem . Display and use key child care survival words in the relevant dialects.

    • Offer creative ways to assist children’s feelings and anxieties through calm, relaxing experiences and activities such as music, water play, yoga, breathing exercises. Create an environment in which refugee children feel safe, welcome and valued.

    • Access specialist support services, resources and ongoing professional development opportunities that can assist you to become better equipped in working with CALD children and families.

    • Develop links with staff from local ethnic and multicultural support services, compile a directory of services available for your refugee families and participate in local Multicultural child, family and community services interagency meetings.

    • Find ways to celebrate, include and encourage your refugee families to participate at your Service.

    (article adapted from Early Childhood Australia Journal, Every Child, Meni Tsambouniaris (2016)