Refugee children may have experienced trauma and lived in war zones, and it’s important for teachers of young children to be aware of this, wrote National Louis University’s Sadia Warsi, Ph.D., associate professor in National College of Education’s Special Education program.
Her article appeared in Teaching Young Children, the publication of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Warsi advised creating a safe and welcoming environment for the refugee children by allowing all the children to play together at a non-competitive activity, such as using paints, engaging in a simple game or doing a music activity. This will allow refugee children who may not know English to ease into the classroom and get to know classmates.
She also advised getting to know the children’s home cultures, and to learn whether they come from a subgroup or culture within a certain country.
Teachers can be especially aware of situations that might set off classroom conflicts, such as sharing materials or taking turns. Refugee children have been through such dramatic circumstances that they might react dramatically to even small conflicts, so teachers can guide them in resolving conflicts and calming down.