After having time to learn, share and rethink how we work with newcomer children, we all left the two-day training in BC with a strong desire to make changes.
Everyone seemed to agree when a participant left saying, “I wish it wasn’t the weekend because I want to go straight to my program and use this new information!”
Led by trainer and author of Supporting the Settlement Needs of Young Immigrant Children & their Families, Julie Dotsch, we went on a journey that filled us with empathy and useful tools for helping newcomer families who require child care supports.
Julie shared her expertise and had a wealth of tips and ideas. Here are a few things we learned:
- try to have ten positive conversations with a parent before having one difficult one
- you know a child is ready for separation from their parent when they can play without the parent for ten minutes and can transition to a second activity within that time
- just because a parent speaks the same language as another parent it doesn’t mean they will get along or want to be friends
- consider your actions – for example, turning lights off as a way to transition children from one activity to another – for a child, lights going out could be a precursor to a bomb going off
- keep music purposeful and limited. For children who do not speak English, having music on makes it hard to focus on learning the new language
- when a child is suffering from culture shock, they may regress to earlier stages of development. Don’t focus on language learning. Instead, focus on increasing their safety and stability
- remember children can go through a period of silence when faced with a new language, don’t assume that because they are not speaking, they cannot speak
- try not to use a lot of different words to describe the same activity or action – like washroom, toilet, bathroom. Pick one and all agree to use it. Julie prefers toilet
The training also included presentations by Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre on supports for immigrant families, and the Ministry of Children and Family Development lead a discussion on child abuse.
We were thrilled to have this opportunity to spend two days in BC with caregivers from across the province. Two days to share the latest research and practices, ask questions and consider what will work best in our programs and how to do things differently-all while laughing, enjoying ourselves and getting to know each other.
If you or one of your teammates are interested in learning more about newcomer children, our website is updated weekly, so check back often for new information and resources!