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How to Help Your Children Adapt to the U.S.

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Moving to a new country is a monumental event. You have to start over by finding a new job, a new home, new friends, and new routines. And you’re not alone: leaving the familiar behind and immigrating to a new country is especially difficult for your children too. Adapting to a new school system surrounded by a completely new culture can be overwhelming.

Though your children may be new to this country, they have the same rights, such as the right to an education, as any child born in the United States. Many resources, including Golden Beacon USA, are available to help your children transition to life in America, not the least of which is you! Check out the various ways you can help your children adapt to their new community and new country by checking out our recommendations below.

Continue Their Education

No matter their immigration status, every child has the same legal right to an education. This right was guaranteed by the 1982 case Plyler vs. Doe when the Supreme Court ruled that immigrants cannot be denied a free public education due to their legal status.

Depending on their age and English proficiency level, school can be a massive undertaking for children and teens. But the U.S. public school system, with its English as a Second Language programs, ensures that your child won’t be left behind. If you recently immigrated to the United States and do not speak English or are a U.S. citizen with limited English proficiency, your child may be placed in these ESL programs to get extra help and attention in learning English. When your child becomes proficient in the language, he or she can then use it in the English-speaking classroom, thus meeting the same academic standards as their native English-speaking peers. From the 2000-2001 school year to the 2016 – 2017 school year, an estimated 4.9 million students participated in English learning programs. In addition, these ESL programs often teach American culture, helping your child to adjust to their new environment.  

Learning English is not the only challenge facing immigrant children in U.S. schools today. Teasing and bullying from peers is an unfortunate possibility. Combat this early by checking in with your child about school and their social lives. Get involved with their education by joining their school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), or a school association run by parents and teachers to discuss matters that affect the children and to organize events to raise money. Be the voice for your child when your child’s needs are not being met.

Encourage After School Activities

Schools provide a stable and healthy environment for your children to learn about American society and become a part of it. Encourage your children to get involved in student government, clubs, sports, or the arts. But don’t stop there! Look into other programs, such as at your local library or youth centers, for more opportunities for your children to not only get involved with the world around them but also to establish friendships.

Maintain Your Heritage

Despite your desire to embrace American society, do not let your children forget where they come from. Moving away from their native language and heritage could harm their cultural identity development and impair the familial bond. You might be eager for your children to integrate into American society, but keeping a balance between maintaining your heritage and ‘becoming American’ is critical. Encourage your children to be bilingual. Celebrate your cultural holidays together. If possible, befriend other families who share your culture. Be sure to keep your culture preserved.

Want to learn more about the US school system? Check out our e-learning video on this topic or buy a Resource Referrals package today so we can help you find the right school environment for your child. Golden Beacon USA’s products and services are here to make you and your family’s transition to America as easy as possible! Questions? Contact me today at laura@goldenbeaconusa.com or call or text (866) 403-7173. Remember, you are not alone!


 

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