S.O.S: Signs of Distress in Immigrant Children &
how we can help: Resources for Educators
By: Beta Group

Teachers have the opportunity to be one of the most stable influences in the everyday lives of the immigrant children in their classrooms. However, teachers may not have a firm understanding of the challenges that these students face in the areas of social interaction, emotional well being, home and family life, and academics. The resources provided here look to address the whole child since one challenge area does not act independently of the rest. Instability in a student’s life clearly demonstrates this fact, since it not only affects the student’s home and family life but also their social, emotional and academic well being. It is our hope that the provided resources will enable teachers to gain additional insights into the challenges that their students face everyday.
Please note: Because of the strong interrelationships among the education, social, family and home life and emotional concerns of immigrant children, we have listed our Essential Questions first and then presented our resources.

Essential Questions:
Analyze how certain perspectives of educators, when combined with appropriate school-related strategies, will help immigrant children succeed academically. Explain how an immigrant child’s education can be characterized as successful.
Keywords: educators, education, teachers, teaching, immigrant children, immigrant students, education of immigrants, educational strategies, academic success, teacher’s perspectives

In what ways can educators strive to reach immigrant children with varying cultural backgrounds? What can educators do about immigrant students who are experiencing a lack of social acceptance? What can be done, by educators, to address immigrant students' lack of sufficient social support networks, while still respecting their privacy?
Keywords: acculturation, assimilation, education, educating immigrant students, immigrant students, psychosocial affects

How can educators ease the emotional distress that immigrant children face in their transition into an American classroom? How can teachers anticipate the additional stress and anxiety immigrant children endure, and to what degree should they intervene into their students' emotional worlds? Can teachers prevent prejudice towards immigrant students, and in what ways can they integrate diversity into their lesson plans?
Keywords: educators, emotional distress, immigrant children, transition, teachers, stress, anxiety, emotional worlds, prejudice, immigrant students, diversity, lesson plans

Using prior knowledge, select those characteristics and strategies that make up a stable classroom environment, then develop a plan using new knowledge that allows family members to transfer those strategies into their home and family life.
Keywords: economically disadvantaged, family life, family school relationship, immigrant children, poverty, social mobility, socioeconomic status.

Journal Articles:
Bollin, G. (2007). Preparing teachers for Hispanic immigrant children: A service learning approach. Journal of Latinos & Education, 6(2), 177-189.
This article focused on a study of undergraduate, education majors who tutored young immigrant students as part of a course. As a result of tutoring, the undergraduate students came to new realizations about immigrant experiences and existing stereotypes. The undergraduate students became more confident about teaching diverse student populations and better prepared to teach immigrant children. (BD)

Borjas, G. J. (2006). Making it in America: Social mobility in the immigrant population. The Future of Children, 16 (2), 55–71.
The article explorers the role socioeconomic status plays in the lives of immigrant children. The second generation of immigrants realize the greatest gains in relative wages, often 5 to 10 times that of their parents. However, fifty percent of the economic disparity found in the parent’s generation remains into the second generation. Researchers look into the mechanics of what is driving this trend and the role that education and acculturation may play in social mobility of future generations of immigrant families. (JB)

Brodkin, A. (2006). Helping the child whose culture and background differs from her classroom peers’. Early Childhood Today, 21(3), 22-23.
This article discusses how both teachers and parents can help immigrant children “fit in” to their new school environment. Dr. Adele Brodkin, a psychologist and consultant, includes the teacher’s story and parents’ (translated) story of 3½ year old Katrina’s difficulty adjusting to preschool after moving to America only five months before. Dr. Brodkin suggests that teachers build a rapport with parents as early as possible to make immigrant students feel more comfortable in their new setting. (JE)

Gougeon, T.D. (1993). Urban schools and immigrant families: Teacher perspectives. The Urban Review, 25(4), 251-87.
This article focuses on ESL (English as second language) minority students. Gougeon explains that ESL students tend to feel alienated and displaced, which can have negative effects on their academic capabilities. The author suggests that school administrators and teachers develop policies that reflect an awareness of inter-cultural problems, and suggests ways that teachers can make students feel more connected to their new learning environment. (JE)

James, D. (1997). Coping with a new society: The unique psychosocial problems of immigrant youth. Journal of School Health, 67, 98-102.
The physical and emotional adjustments that immigrant students have to make after moving to the U.S. leaves them at an increased risk for psychosocial problems, academic difficulties, drug use, and other risk-taking behaviors. The author discusses the unique emotional problems that immigrant children face including culture shock, ethnic identity confusion, acculturation, and social-behavioral difficulties. Her suggestions for educators include participating in cross-cultural in-services, and initiating peer counseling between students. (JE)

Kirova, A. (2001). Loneliness in immigrant children: Implications for classroom practice. Childhood Education, 77(5), 260-67.
This article discusses immigrant children’s tendency to encounter loneliness in their transition to a new country and school. Kirova stresses the need for teachers to understand how loneliness cannot only affect immigrant children’s quality of life, but also their ability to learn. Strategies to help students overcome loneliness and become an accepted member of their new school are offered. (JE)

Kopala, M., & Esquivel, G. (1994). Counseling approaches for immigrant children: Facilitating the acculturative process. School Counselor, 41, 352.
This article addresses what can be done to alleviate the stresses of the acculturation process of immigrant students simultaneously undergoing changes in their physical surroundings and social environment. What types of interventions may be necessary for students experiencing lack of acceptance by their peers and teachers and also negative perceptions about their minority group? (CB)

Orozco, G. L. (2008). Understanding the culture of low-income immigrant Latino parents: Key to involvement. The School Community Journal, 18 (1), 21–37
The study grew out of eleven hours of radio talk show discussions concerning low income immigrant families and what they value in their home lives. The study revealed four major themes that the participants value most in their homes. The common themes shared by the study participates were (1) the special place of children, (2) knowledge is power; (3) where there is a will, there is a way; and (4) the importance of culture and of being bilingual. Ultimately, the researcher recommends that teachers use strength based approaches when approaching parents and their involvement in student learning. (JB)

Rousseau, C., Drapeau, A., Lacroix, L, Bagilishya, P., & Heusch, N. (2005). Evaluation of a classroom program of extensive expression for refugee and immigrant children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(2), 180-85.
This study focuses on 138 children, ages 7 to 13, registered in either integration classrooms for immigrant children (which involved regular creativity workshops) and regular classrooms. Results show that teachers in integrated classrooms report higher levels of self-esteem in students, particularly in boys. The authors show that by encouraging creativity in the classroom, teachers can make immigrant students feel more comfortable among their peers, as well transform their own perceptions of immigrant students. (JE)

Sassler, S. L. (2006). School participation among Immigrant youths: The case of segmented assimilation in the early 20th century. Sociology of Education, 79, 1-24.
Compares the assimilation process for white ethnic youths in the 1920s to the current assimilation of immigrant children. It has long been suggested that earlier waves of immigrant students were more easily assimilated into the American educational system. New research, however, suggests that there are actually many parallels between previous generations of immigrant student’s assimilation process and that of the current wave of immigrant students. (CB)

Schaller, A., Rocha, L., & Barshinger, D. (2007, April). Maternal attitudes and parent education: How immigrant mothers support their child’s education despite their own low levels of education. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(5), 351-356.
This article focuses on immigrant mothers with low levels of education and how they can be successful partners with their children to ensure academic success. When they are taught how to help, the mothers can assist their children. In fact, they may have higher levels of educational aspirations for their children than native born parents do. (BD)

Souto-Manning, M. (2007). Immigrant Families and Children (Re) Develop Identities in a New Context. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34, 399-405.
This is a case study addressing an immigrant family struggling with a new cultural and linguistic environment. The article chronicles the story of the mother of a first grade Mexican immigrant student who renamed her son before he started first grade in order to avoid “the widespread stereotypes and academic stagnation” that plagues many immigrant students. Additionally, it outlines some of the negative impacts of assimilation on family life. (CB)

Vang, C. T. (2006, summer) Minority parents should know more about school culture and its impact on their children’s education. Multicultural Education, 20–26
The article explorers the role played by the hidden curriculum when analyzing the educational process and experience of immigrant students. Many parents bring their cultural values to how they perceive teachers and their role in education. Educators, through this parental trust, have the ability to bridge the gap into an immigrant child’s home life and reach their student’s. However, the article points out how educators have thus far used the hidden curriculum to limit immigrant students. The article closes by providing educators with some ideas that can bring out the best in their students while bridging the gap between a student’s home life and school. (JB)

Web Sources:
(2008). Center for Applied Linguistics. Retrieved from Center for Applied Linguistics Web site: http://www.cal.org/index.html
The Web site of The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), a private nonprofit organization, focuses on language acquisition. The site has many resources for teachers, including professional development opportunities and some downloadable resources, which are both practical and scholarly. “English Language Learners” is an important effort of CAL. (BD)

(2007) Children in immigrant families: A California data brief. Retrieved from Children Now website: http://publications.childrennow.org/assets/pdf/policy/immigrantkids-2007.pdf
This brief examines the immigrant population of California by looking at the overall well-being of the children that make up this segment of the population. Many aspects of a child’s life have been included in the document which includes the linguistic composition of the household, amount of adult education, preschool attendance, healthcare, immigrant earnings gap, and household overcrowding. Each section contains a brief description of why the topic matters and what the key findings were concerning the welfare of the children in the home. (JB)

(2007) Children Now. Retrieved from http://www.childrennow.org/index.html
Children Now is a California based Web site that is designed to provide information which promotes the overall well-being of all children. The site provides a wealth of information and programs concerning the health, education, research, and media concerns of children. All kinds of groups including parents, academics, and policy makers have sought out Children Now’s hi-quality bi-partisan research. (JB)

Corredor, M. (n.d.). Climbing the school ladder: a challenging task for immigrant
Latino students. Retrieved from http://learnnc.org/lp/pages/934.
The author discusses the critical role that teachers play in helping immigrant children adjust to a new school. She talks about the wide range of emotions that immigrant children encounter in their transition to a new home, including: confusion, excitement, anxiety, sadness, disorientation, and fear. The article includes a list of ways that educators can ease an immigrant child’s stress and anxiety in adapting to their new school. (JE)

Friedman, D. (2002). Special programs greet immigrant students: Classes help ease transition to U.S. schools, culture. Retrieved from http://archives.cnn.com/2002/fyi/teachers.ednews/08/21/immigrant.education/index.html. This CNN article focuses on the need for tolerance and open-mindedness in classrooms with immigrant students. The author says that teachers must act as “diplomats” in making the transition for students new to the country as easy as possible. Suggestions include treating the presence of an immigrant child in your classroom as a way to expose students to other cultures and get a different perspective on the world. (JE)

Hernandez, D. J., Denton, N. A., & Macartney, S. E. (2007). Children in immigrant families – The U.S. and 50 states national origins, language, and early education. Retrieved from [[http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends%3C/span%3E2007_04_01_RB_ChildrenImmigrant.pdf|http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends2007_04_01_RB_ChildrenImmigrant.pdf]]
The brief examines the composition of immigrants on a national and statewide level. Several factors are explored as they relate to social mobility in the brief; they include the length of time immigrant parents have lived in the United States, the level of English fluency present in immigrant households, and the importance of early education programs for the children of immigrant families. Several recommendations are made for educators to consider so that immigrant families can benefit from the diverse talents they bring to our nation. (JB)

Kurts-Costes, B., Pungello, E. (2000) Acculturation and immigrant children: Implications for educators. Retrieved from the National Council of Social Studies Web site http://members.ncss.org/se/6402/640210.html
This article explores the factors that may ease or complicate the acculturation process for immigrant children. Mitigating factors can include how much contact they have previously had with the new society and the level of disparity between the previous and new societal situation. Additionally, it includes recommendations for educators. (CB)

(2007). Lanternfish ESL. Retrieved July 13, 2008, from Lanternfish ESL Web
site: http://bogglesworldesl.com/
Lanternfish ESL, formerly called Bogglesworld ESL, contains an array of downloadable resources for teachers of English as a second language, including appropriate items for younger children. Permission is given on the site to reproduce the items for classroom or teaching use. Lanternfish , which was created by ESL teachers, also contains some useful links for educators. (BD)

(2008) NCCP (National Center for Children in Poverty) / Immigrant Children. Retrieved from: http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_657.html
The NCCP was found in 1989 as part of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. This group has a three pronged approach to addressing the well-being of low income families and children that currently live in poverty. The three goal areas encompass families that are economically secure, strong and nurturing, and have healthy children. Sources available through the site’s search engine provide researchers with a wide variety of information concerning the lives of immigrant children and can be accessed at the following web address: http://www.nccp.org/publications/immigrantfamilies_pubs.html (JB)

(2008). National Education Association. Retrieved from National Education Association Web site: http://www.nea.org/index.html
The National Education Association (NEA) Web site contains news articles and fact sheets about current issues concerning immigrant students, such as an effort for immunization and immigrants not graduating from high school. The site also has in-depth resources about immigrant children, including achievement gaps. Lesson plans covering immigration are contained within the site. (BD)

Nunez, A., Jueau Mahan,G. (n.d.) Facilitating Acculturation Among School-Age Latino Immigrant Children. Retrieved from http://www.angelfire.com/journal2/njca/ NunezGary.html
This is a discussion of what factors can impact the acculturation process for immigrant families and children. It outlines steps educators can take to ease this process. Recommendations include the utilization of school based support groups. (CB)

Pulido-Tobiassen, D., Gonzalez-Mena, J. (1999). Teaching Diversity: A place to begin.
Retrieved from: http://tinyurl.com/6857m2
Found on Scholastic.com, this article offers teachers suggestions for weaving diversity into their daily lesson plans. This article focuses on developing cultural sensitivity in students, which is the first step in preventing prejudice against immigrant minority students. Included at the end of the article is a booklist for materials that deal with diversity. (JE)

(2008). Reports and fact sheets: Education. Retrieved from Pew Hispanic Center Web site: http://pewhispanic.org/topics/index.php?TopicID=4
Pew Hispanic Center, a nonprofit project funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, bills itself as a “fact tank” aimed at improving understanding of the Hispanic population. Education is one of center’s research topics. The Web site contains in-depth reports about the issue of English language learners and other topics affecting the Latino population and schools. (BD)

The ABCs of ‘We the People’ (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/teach/activities/activity.jsp?ar=864&pa=5
The Teaching Tolerance website aims to provide teachers with resources for preventing prejudice and supporting equity in the school environment. This article provides teachers with specific activities and opportunities for discussion that revolve around immigrants. There are activities for various grade levels, as well as suggestions for adapting activities for other grades. (JE)

Crosnoe, R. (2006). Mexican roots, American schools helping Mexican immigrant children succeed. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
Mexican Roots, American Schools Helping Mexican Immigrant Children Succeed by Robert Crosnoe explains that when immigrant children enter elementary school, there are small academic differences based on background. These small differences become much larger over time. The book, based on a study, advocates targeted assistance, such as preschool programs aligned with curriculum. These interventions could be directly linked to schools. (BD)

DebBurman, N. (2005). Immigrant education Variations by generation, age-at-immigration, and country of origin. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC.
Immigrant Education Variations by Generation, Age-At-Immigration, and Country of Origin by Noyna DebBurman, an immigrant herself, examines the educational achievement of immigrant adults and children using the factors in the title. The book draws conclusions about immigrant education, such as teenage immigrants complete fewer years of school and first generation immigrants have high preschool and high school enrollment levels. It also examines the complex topic of education by country of origin. (BD)

Dentler, R. A. & Hafner, A. L. (1997). Hosting newcomers Structuring educational opportunities for immigrant children. New York: Teachers College Press.
Hosting Newcomers Structuring Educational Opportunities for Immigrant Children describes school districts that are successfully educating large numbers of immigrant students. The book identifies specific political, cultural, staff and instructional features, among other items, connected to high student achievement. Based on a study of 11 school districts in metropolitan areas of Arizona, California and Nevada, the book aims to offer successful models for replication. (BD)

Igoa, C. (1995). The inner world of the immigrant child. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Igoa’s book tells the tale of one teacher’s quest to understand the emotional experiences of an immigrant child and how to create a suitable learning environment in response. Topics include culture shock, the feeling of being uprooted from one’s home, and adjusting to a new life. Igoa describes the cultural, academic, and psychological assistance that educators should provide when working with immigrant students. (JE)

Lansford, J. E., Deater-Deckard, K., & Bornstein, M. H. (2007) Immigrant families in contemporary society: The Duke series in child development and public policy series. Guilford Press: New York.
The text offers a multitude of information in all areas of an immigrant family’s life. The range of topics covered including culture, religion, early school education, familial relationships, and acculturation. The chapters are written by a variety of expects in the fields of economics, sociology, health care, and educational development. The text enables educators to see the entire picture when developing a plan to reach the students of a given class, regardless of cultural status. (JB)

Olsen, L. (2008). Made in America: Immigrant students in our public schools, 10th anniversary ed. New York: New Press.
Laurie Olsen’s book takes readers into a California high school where more than twenty percent of the students were born in another country, and more than one-third come from non-English speaking or limited-English speaking homes. This book offers an inside view of how immigrant teens deal with life in a public school -- great background information for any educator! (JE)

Sadowski, M. (Ed.). (2004). Teaching immigrant and second-language students: Strategies for success. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Teaching Immigrant and Second-Language Students Strategies for Success, edited by Michael Sadowski, contains chapters on a variety of relevant issues in immigrant children’s education. These include assessment of young immigrant students, how educators can help immigrants on high-stakes tests and creating strong relationships between home and school. (BD)

Stanton-Salazar, R. D. (2001). Manufacturing hope and despair The school and kin support networks of U.S.-Mexican youth. New York: Teachers College Press.
Manufacturing Hope and Despair The School and Kin Support Networks of U.S.-Mexican Youth by Ricardo D. Stanton-Salazar investigates social forces that can prevent these adolescents from seeking help in school. The book shows how schools can build on home-based social networks and create academic success. The author also examines how these teenagers do not receive equal services, for example guidance in choosing colleges. (BD)

Suarez-Orozco, C., Suarez-Orozco, M. M., & Todorova, I. (2008). Learning in a New Land: Immigrant students in American society. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
Based on a study that follows roughly 400 newly arrived students from countries all over the world. The study follows the students for five years and chronicles their experiences as well as their frustrations. The book addresses the challenges of educating these new immigrants in a new and changing environment. (CB)

All web links were checked and current July 10-14, 2008