How the young children of immigrants experience their early school years may in large part determine their academic future and negatively affect their emotional, social, and mental development. Children benefit from a positive, supportive learning environment where their contributions are valued; many from immigrant families, however, experience discrimination in school during their early, impressionable years.
The experiences that children have in their first classrooms are foundational to how they think about themselves as learners, students, and members of the larger communities around them. Any experiences of discrimination at this vulnerable age can negatively affect personal development and academic trajectories, and limit the emotional benefits of early childhood education.
This report, part of a research series supported by the Foundation for Child Development, maps the types of personal and structural discrimination that young children of immigrants may experience at school, and the consequences of discrimination for children, their families, and schools. It begins by describing how discrimination in the early years can affect a child’s development, academic performance, and later mobility. The report then outlines types of discrimination that young children of immigrants may experience at school. The report concludes with recommendations that focus on training teachers, building relationships between schools and immigrant communities, and encouraging more varied, culturally sensitive learning experiences.
Table of Contents
II. How Discrimination in School Affects Young Children
A. The Effects of Discrimination on Children’s Development and Academic Performance
B. Discrimination and Parental Engagement in SchoolC. The Role of Local Contexts and Attitudes
III. Types of Discrimination Experienced
A. Personal Forms of Discrimination
B. Structural Forms of Discrimination
IV. Reasons for Discrimination in the Early School Years
A. Lack of Meaningful Connections with Immigrant Communities
B. Focus on Immigrant Families’ Deficits Rather than Assets
C. Inadequate Teacher Preparation and Recruitment
D. Testing Pressures in the Early Grades
E. Negative Labels and Concerns over School Readiness
Source: Migration Policy Institute