Psychological Adjustment of Immigrant Children in the classroom


Adjustment difficulties

Nowadays, the number of immigrant students increases. The “foreign” child often feels “incomplete”, “different”, “empty”, believing that he has to learn as fast as he can the language of the host country and as well as its culture. Furthermore the child may believe that his native language is a barrier for him to adjust into the new country, and may even consider it as socially inferior or as a defect and thus he wants to abolish the bond with it and tries to repel it.

In particular, the student-immigrant usually reacts negatively to the lack of understanding by the others around him, goes into isolation, he becomes introverted, reacts aggressively, and puts himself in the margins of school life.

Learning the new language is the main problem that needs an immediate solution. Sometimes the student-immigrant may experience a long period of silence and exhibit a preference to be a passive observer of the school life rather than an active participant.

How to Welcome Immigrant Students Into the Classroom

For these reasons it is necessary to enhance the confidence and self-esteem of these students through the recognition and acceptance of their  own language and cultural difference. 

Create an inclusive classroom

Teach your students about the diversity and that, regardless of immigration status, they have a right to attend your school and are welcomed. Bring in guest lecturers to foster diversity in your class. Treat each student as an individual, and respect each student for who he or she is and ask from your students to do the same for their classmates. 

Seek support from mental health professionals and community groups

Having a school counselor is a good idea not only to help students adjust to a different culture, but also to process any trauma, if encountered. Some students may need support for how to deal with difficult situations.

Involve parents/guardians

A parent/guardian may work long hours, or they may be afraid to talk with you because of a language barrier, their own immigration status, etc. However, ask them first to come to the school and meet them in person. 

Ask your students’ experience

Ask them how they feel about their school work, what they miss about their home country, what they like and don’t like in the host country, and what questions they have. Give them daily or weekly opportunities to write and/or talk about their immigration experience with you and fellow students. Get a sense of how students feel about the cultural climate in your classroom. Tell them that you want to hear from them if any aspect of the course is making them uncomfortable.

Use games and art

Decorate your classroom or school walls with photos of diverse role models, including those of immigrants and find engaging ways to learn about immigration through images and games.

Friendly Conversation

Create mixed-student small groups. Students may feel more comfortable sharing and building new friendships in smaller groups or with partners, as appropriate to your lesson.

Similarities and Differences

Identify shared values and differences in the classroom. Plan for opportunities where students can voice their personal values and beliefs to create a sense of belonging.

Aim for an inclusive curriculum that reflects the perspectives and experiences of a pluralistic society

Offer one-on-one assistance when possible and assign a peer partner.


Here is a video which describes strategies that teachers can use to create a welcoming classroom environment for their immigrant students





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