Multilingual School-Related Resources for Refugee Families

  1. 7 Resources for Parents & Schools. Washington State Office of the Education Ombudsman . 2009. Cambodian Chinese English Korean Russian Somali Spanish Vietnamese .

    This collection of multilingual family guides includes:

    • A Voice for Everyone
    • Resolving Conflict at School
    • Parent and Student Rights
    • Participate in Your Child's Education
    • Make the Most of a Parent-Teacher Conferences
    • Bullying at School
    • How Does a School District Work?

  2. A Guide to Your Children's Schools: A Parent Handbook. Adult Learning Resource Center 37 page s . February 2002. Arabic Burmese Chinese English French Gujarati Korean Nepali Polish Spanish Tagalog Urdu Vietnamese .

    Presents general information about the school system in the United States for newcomers to the U.S. Parents and guardians of immigrant or refugee children can peruse a question-and-answer format to learn about: (1) the organization and types of schools in the U.S., including the relationship between school districts and school boards as well as alternative schooling for children who do not finish high school; (2) procedures for enrolling children in school, including required medical forms and examinations; (3) the school calendar and school day; (4) transportation options; (5) school procedures, including policies regarding illness, absence, and fees for activities such as field trips; (6) the roles of administrators, teachers, and support staff; (7) instructional programs, including English as a second language (ESL) and bilingual classes, basic curricula for elementary, middle, and high school, and special-needs programs; (8) parents' roles in their children's education and learning, including participating in parent-teacher conferences, parent workshops, family learning activities, and volunteer programs as well as engaging children in discussion about and helping them with their homework; and (9) adult education, including English and literacy classes. Parents and guardians who understand how the U.S. school system works are better able to help their children succeed.

    For translations, please click on the second link and then on "Communication with Families".

  3. A New Day: Refugee Families in the United States. Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) page s . 2006. English .

    Illustrates the challenges facing new refugee families as they adjust to the realities of living in the United States, by using a short video with scenes and conversations from their daily life. Families from Burma, Somalia, Liberia, Iran, Armenia, and Russia describe the oppression, violence, and fear they faced in their native countries. Each family expresses a tremendous desire to improve their children's lives by taking advantage of educational and economic opportunities. Yet, one man describes life in America as "better, but difficult". Resettlement professionals discuss the stress caused by changing roles that upset the traditional balance of power in the family, such as when the wife becomes the bread winner or the children learn English quickly and become translators for their elders. Learning to speak English is a dominant topic, and scenes from English as a Second Language classes are included. Teens emphasize that knowledge of the language is the key to academic and social success. Different Western parenting approaches, especially in the areas of discipline and physical punishment, as well as tolerance of clothing and hair style trends, are explained. The clash between the image of American life and the reality - with many refugees living in low-income neighborhoods with high crime rates - can be disheartening, but the families remain confident that their choices were correct and hold dreams for their future generations. (IP-CW)

  4. Anna Goes to School. Teague, Kati 26 page s . 1991. Bengali Chinese English Greek Hindi Punjabi Somali Turkish Urdu Vietnamese This resource may be free from your local library or purchased from the publisher.

    When it is time for Anna to start school, she is not too happy. But after her first day, she is ready for more. (Description from source.)

    Recommended for ages 4-7.

  5. Attending School in the Anchorage School District. Anchorage School District page s . 2010. English Hmong Nepali Nuer Russian Samoan Somali Spanish Tagalog .

    This online video is shown to immigrant and refugee families when they register for school in Anchorage, Alaska.  Their Web site also includes video success stories from students who attend their district's Newcomers' Center.

  6. Be Who You Are: Refugee Youth in the United States. Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) page s . 2006. English .

    Presents a short video on topics for teen refugees and resettlement workers that focuses on the realities of integrating into American society and provides a snapshot of what to expect as a new member of the U.S. population. Teen refugees from several families and different cultures talk candidly about daily life. Not speaking English is described as a frightening and isolating experience, and each teen emphasizes that learning the language paves the way to educational achievement and new friendships. School settings make bright, interactive environments with helpful teachers and offer a variety of ways to learn such as through physical education, art, and music. Religious and cultural differences place high expectations on academic achievement as well as create different dating and friendships rules. One teen advises new refugees to just be themselves and they will find friends that accept them. Many teen refugees take on family responsibilities, such as helping with younger siblings and preparing meals. (IP-CW)

  7. Bilingual Glossaries. The New York State Education Department page s . n.d.. Arabic Bengali Bosnian Burmese Chinese English French Haitian Creole Korean Polish Punjabi Romanian Russian Serbo-Croatian Spanish Ukrainian Urdu Vietnamese .

    These glossaries were created for teachers, LEP students, test translators, and curricula developers.  The glossaries are available in a number of languages; note that the math glossaries are available in Burmese.   Glossaries include: U.S. History/Government; Global History; Math; Algebra/Trigonometry; Geometry; Earth Science; Chemistry; and Physics.

  8. Child Abuse and Neglect: A Reference for Medical Professionals (2nd Edition). Office for Children and Families 178 page s . 2005. English .

    In order to begin the intervention necessary to protect the child and help the family, the medical and health professional must be knowledgeable in recognizing cases of child abuse and neglect and the proper methods of handling evaluation and referral. This booklet has been developed to
    address the most frequent child abuse and neglect issues which confront the medical and health
    professional. (Description from source)

  9. Clearinghouse for Multilingual Documents (Web site). California Department of Education page s . 2011. Albanian Arabic Armenian Bangla Bengali Bosnian Burmese Cambodian Chinese Croatian Dutch English Farsi Filipino French German Greek Gujarati Hebrew Hindi Hmong Hungarian Indonesian Italian Japanese Khmer Korean Kurdish Lao Pashto Polish Portuguese Punjabi Romanian Russian Samoan Serbo-Croatian Somali Spanish Thai Tigrigna Tongan Turkish Ukrainian Urdu Vietnamese .

    This clearinghouse houses hundreds of resources that facilitate communication with immigrant parents.  Within each topic is a list of currently available parental notifications related to that topic. By selecting a title, viewers will be led to a list of "Available Translations" for that title.  These documents may be useful to others throughout the U.S. because the translations are provided in generic form so that schools and districts can modify them to suit local needs.

  10. Creating a Refuge From Bullying. ECDC/African Community Center of Denver's Youth Outreach Anti-Bullying Project page s . 2006. English This resource may be free from your local library or purchased from the publisher.

    This video explores the refugee condition as a product of bullying on a global scale. Refugee children have experienced persecution in all its forms-causing them to lose their heritage, culture, and sense of security. When they enter the American school system, they are often bullied or excluded based on their lack of English or cultural differences. Creating a Refuge from Bullying features Amjaad and Il Gude, an Iraqi boy and Somali Bantu girl, who describe their experiences with American peers as they try to assimilate into the American school system and culture. The film also
    helps identify and address bullying on a more general level as a problem that every student can help solve, whether they are victims, bystanders, or bullies themselves.

  11. Educational Handbook for Refugee Parents. International Rescue Committee 82 page s . 2006. Burmese English French Somali Spanish .

    Acquaints refugee parents with the U.S. school system; school grade levels; expectations of students at each level in terms of academics and personal conduct; and parents' responsibilities in ensuring that their children meet the school system expectations. The International Rescue Committee encourages parents to meet with their children's teachers and frequently talk with their children about their schoolwork, as well as urge their children to pursue college. Step-by-step instructions clarify the procedures for choosing a college, the application process, and securing financial aid. An appendix details resources that address parents' specific needs: finding an interpreter; scheduling meetings with teachers or administrators; obtaining permission for a child's absence or late arrival; requesting a fee waiver or free lunch; and requesting resources for families learning English.

    The handbook is also available in Spanish, French, Somali, and Burmese.

  12. Emergency and Community Health Outreach. Emergency and Community Health Outreach (ECHO) page s . 2004. English Hmong Khmer Lao Somali Spanish Vietnamese .

    ECHO is a collaborative Web site providing health and safety information during emergency and non-emergency times to people with limited English language skills. BRYCS audiences may be interested in topics covered such as: Back to School Immunizations, Calling 9-1-1 in an Emergency, Child Safety Seats, Early Childhood Screening, Lead Poisoning, Mental Health Help, How to Talk to Kids About Crisis, and more. Each topic is covered in video format and is available in multiple languages. Click the language of your choice at the top of the Web page and the whole page (including the videos) will be in the language selected.

  13. Family Involvement Tools. . Amharic Cambodian English Oromo Somali Spanish Vietnamese .

    This is a collection of multilingual audio clips for newcomer parents that address parent involvement in the schools. The clips discuss getting involved with children's education through volunteering, home school communication, learning at home, collaborating with the community, and parent/teacher conferences. Though they were created for Washington state, they may be useful in other parts of the country.

  14. Guidebook for Parents of English Language Learners. Houston Independent School District 33 page s . 2007. Arabic Chinese English Farsi French Somali Spanish Swahili Urdu Vietnamese .

    This multilingual resource provides parents of English language learners in the Houston schools with basic information about school programs their children may be eligible for.  It may also be helpful to other school districts seeking to create similar handbooks.

  15. How to Navigate the Oakland Unified School District. Oakland Unified School District 49 page s . 2008. Arabic Burmese Cambodian Chinese English French Nepali Spanish Vietnamese .

    This handbook for refugee and asylee families, service providers and support people includes the following sections:

    • Overview of the U.S. school system
    • Understanding the Oakland Unified School District
    • Communicating with your child's school
    • Helping your child succeed in school
    • Tools for communicating with your child's school

    Much of the information is applicable to those in other areas of the country.

  16. Illinois’ Refugee Children School Impact Grant Video Tool Kit. Illinois' Refugee Children School Impact Grant (RCSIG) Partnership, Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Illinois Department of Human Services, Chicago Public Schools page s . 2005. Arabic English Maay Maay Somali Spanish Swahili .

    This toolkit includes In Our Country: Educating Newcomers in America and Welcoming New Learners: A Professional Development Tool. Schools struggle with the challenge of welcoming and adjusting to this entering population. Teachers and administrators must search for ways to make these new students feel safe and secure while instilling the standards of behavior and achievement expected from all. The new arrivals and their parents have no understanding of the American educational process, the school policies and resources, or what to expect from the classroom experience. Both school personnel and refugees have a profound need to understand one another. In order to help facilitate the integration of refugees into the classroom, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Human Services/Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services have created these two videos.

  17. Limited English Proficient (LEP) Parent Involvement Project: A Guide for Connecting Immigrant Parents and Schools. Dixon, Janet 171 page s . 2001. Cambodian English Hmong Lao Russian Spanish Vietnamese .

    "The LEP Parent Involvement Project was developed to be used in various adult education settings such as ESL classes, community-based organizations and parent groups for the purposes of helping parents and caretakers with limited English see themselves as active participants in their children's learning. In designing the materials we had the following goals in mind: 1. To build on what people already know from their experience as parents and caretakers in their own countries. 2. To help parents restore their own vision of themselves as first and primary teachers. (This vision is often lost in the immigration process.). 3. To create opportunities for parents to explore similarities and differences between their new and native countries and to build bridges that will link the two experiences. 4. To encourage parents to define and keep values and traditions, which are meaningful parts of their culture." - Publisher's description CONTENTS User's Guide Module 1 Bridging Cultures Module 2 Schools are Part of the Culture Module 3 Parents are Teachers Module 4 Discipline Module 5 Life at School Module 6 Families

  18. Needs Assessment and Planning for Asylum Seeking and Refugee Young People: A Good Practice Note. National Children's Bureau 16 page s . March 2006. English .

    The following practice note is aimed at professionals who carry out needs assessments and create pathway plans for asylum seeking and refugee young people. The main aim is to highlight the additional areas that should be considered, and to compliment existing material that has been created for working with young people leaving care. (Description from source)

  19. PACER Center's National Center for Bullying Prevention (Web site). Pacer Center, Inc. page s . 2007. English Hmong Somali Spanish .

    This Web site provides free handouts for English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali speaking parents. Topics include talking to your children about bullying, talking with school administrators, record-keeping and bullying, and IEPs and bullying. Click on "Translated Content" at the bottom or on "Resources for Parents and Professionals" for many translated materials.

  20. Parent Curriculum: Module 1. Cotton, Jessica , Lutheran Social Services of Michigan 34 page s . October 2007. English Arabic Bosnian - Serbian - Croatian .

    This manual was created by Lutheran Social Services of Michigan's Senior School Impact Specialist as a part of their Refugee School Impact Program. It was designed for refugee parents to provide them with information they need to prepare their children for school and to be involved in their education. It includes sections on: structure of the American school system, getting involved in your child's education, parent-teacher conferences, getting ready for school, understanding the American culture, federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, overview of the youth orientation/support sessions, LSSM ESL classes, and resources used and information available.

    This booklet is available in English, Bosnian, and Arabic

  21. Parent involvement materials. Drum Publishing Group page s . 2010. English Karen .

    These materials are based on the Parent Institute for Quality Education Program (PIQE) in California and are available in Karen through Drum Publications. Lessons include home-school collaboration; home, motivation and self-esteem; communication and discipline; academic standards; how the elementary school system functions; and the road to college.

  22. Parent Outreach Publications (Brochures and Handouts). PACER Center page s . 2008. English Hmong Russian Somali Spanish .

    Advises parents of young children to contact the PACER Center and their school districts to learn about districts' early childhood intervention and special education services. These services can help parents better understand their children and identify how to best meet individual children's needs. Services can also identify if a child has special needs, which parents should determine as soon as possible because early intervention will allow for the child to be better helped and more ready to learn upon entering kindergarten. Schools will provide service coordinators to individually plan with parents of special needs children for the support services and therapies their children will need, offer tips on how to help their children develop skills at home, and help locate effective community resources and services outside school systems. Lists benchmarks of typical developmental milestones and encourages parents to monitor their child's early development and to seek help immediately if concerns arise. Consultations are free and parents have final decision-making power in application and use of all services.

  23. Raising Children in a New Country: An Illustrated Handbook. Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS) 36 page s . September 2007. Arabic Burmese English Hmong Karen Nepali Somali Spanish .

    This booklet was created for agencies serving refugees and immigrants in order to support their efforts to ensure that newcomer parents have the basic information they need about U.S. laws and parenting practices. Although newcomers may find the booklet useful by itself, it is primarily intended for case managers and other service providers to use together with their refugee and immigrant clients. The booklet is targeted to newcomer parents with low levels of English proficiency and/or low literacy levels. Since the often complex concepts illustrated here are necessarily simplified, the resource section (pages 28-31) provides easy-to-access information for service providers to supplement the basic points in this booklet. For best results, BRYCS recommends using this booklet in culturally appropriate parent support groups, preferably run by at least one experienced newcomer parent of the same ethnicity and one U.S.-born parent, where refugee and immigrant parents can ask questions, try out new behaviors, and find positive support to help ease their transition. (See the BRYCS publication Parenting in a New Country: A Toolkit for Working with Newcomer Parents for more information on parent support groups, including curricula and other educational information).

    This booklet has also been translated into Burmese, Karen, Nepali, Spanish,and White Hmong by local refugee agencies and public schools but you must email for copies of these translations.

  24. Refugee Family Engagement Project DVD Set. Denver Public Schools . 2010. Arabic Burmese French Karen Nepali Somali .

    This is a set of two DVDs.  The first is a professional development DVD for educators, administrators, and staff and provides background information on the U.S. refugee resettlement program.  Denver Public Schools staff describe their best practices and communication strategies to inform and engage refugee families, and identify resources for schools and families.

    The second DVD is for newcomer families.  It invites families to participate in school activities and informs refugees about American school culture.  It covers attendance policies, health policies, after-school programs, parent-teacher conferences, and adult education opportunities.  It describes services available at schools and in the greater community.

  25. Registering Your Child For School. Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians 2 page s . 2008. Arabic Chinese English French Haitian Creole Russian Spanish Tigrigna .

    Provides parents with a brief overview of the records required to enroll a child in school and the time requirement that schools must adhere to, in order to register a child. Records include proof of a child's age; proof of address; and immunization records, and at the time of registration, parents must sign a sworn statement as to any disciplinary records. Schools may not require other records such as photo identification, Social Security numbers, or immigration documents.

  26. Sam's First Day. Mills, David , Finlay, Lizzie 24 page s . 2000. Albanian Arabic Bengali Chinese Czech English Farsi French Gujarati Portuguese Somali Spanish Tamil Turkish Urdu Vietnamese This resource may be free from your local library or purchased from the publisher.

    Sam loved to talk. On his first day at school he talked and talked all the way there. But when Sam got to school, he stopped talking. Sam enjoyed writing. He enjoyed playing games. He enjoyed reading. But he just would not talk! Until... A gently told tale for all children new to school or the newcomer to the classroom. (Description from source.)

    Recommended for ages 6 and up.

  27. Tom and Sofia Start School. Barkow, Henriette , Lamont, Priscilla 32 page s . 2006. Albanian Arabic Bengali Chinese English Farsi French German Greek Gujarati Hindi Italian Japanese Kurdish Polish Portuguese Punjabi Russian Somali Spanish Tagalog Turkish Urdu Vietnamese This resource may be free from your local library or purchased from the publisher.

    This children's book goes through a school day through the eyes of two young children - including circle time, art, snack, bathroom, lunch, recess, games, and clean up. The illustrations are diverse and include Muslim and Jewish students as well as those with disabilities. Some of the English words used are British (such as "Mum"), but is otherwise appropriate for students in the U.S. 

    Recommended for ages: 4-8.

  28. Tukwila School District Parent Handbook. International Rescue Committee - Seattle 67 page s . 2007. English .

    This handbook includes basic information about schools through simple text and photos. Though some pages are specific to the Tukwila School District, many pages include photos that would be useful to refugee parents with children in any school in the U.S.

  29. Welcome to AACPS. Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Office of School and Family Partnerships, International Student Services Office . November 2015. English Spanish .

     A video that explains enrollment, absences, transportation and meals among other topics to parents. A Spanish version of the video is currently available and additional translations are coming soon.

  30. Welcome to Our Schools Kit. New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance (BRIA) page s . 2013. Arabic Burmese English Karen Maay Maay Russian Swahili Vietnamese .

    The Welcome to Our Schools Kit is designed to ease the transition of refugee children into the elementary and secondary schools of New York State, and to empower their parents to be effective partners in the education of their children. This kit includes: 1) Curriculum for the Refugee Academy, Parent Programs, Professional Development, and Mini-Academies; 2) Welcome to Our Schools posters for posting and distribution to students; 3) USA puzzles for use in Module 4; 4) Beach ball for use in Module 1; 5) Bus Number stickers for use in Module 3; 6) DVDs for use in all Modules; 7) Handouts for use in all Modules; and 8) Pencils, crayons, and colored pencils for use in all Modules. The DVDs include 5 segments: 1) A Day in Elementary School; 2) A Day in Middle School; 3) A Day in High School; 4) Student Interviews; and 5) Parent Interviews.  Contact BRIA to order a copy. 

    Updated in 2013, the kit is designed to ease the transition of refugee children into the elementary and secondary schools of New York State, and to empower their parents to be effective partners in the education of their children. New resources include brochures for teachers, nurses, school counselors and parents, resources on domestic abuse, anti-bullying, and peer mentoring, as well as curriculum supplements.

  31. Welcome to School. Granite School District page s . March 7, 2016. Arabic Burmese Dari English Farsi French Karen Nepali Portuguese Somali Spanish Swahili Tigrinya Vietnamese .

    This video is an orientation video to the school district where newcomer parents and their children can get a sense of what a typical school day is like. The video is available in multiple refugee languages.

  32. Working with your Child's School. Christensen, Sandy 4 page s . 2000. English Hmong Spanish .

    A short overview for Hmong parents on how to work with their child's school.

  33. You Can Help Your Child in School. Minnesota Department of Education page s . 2001. Amharic Arabic English Hmong Nuer Oromo Russian Somali Spanish This resource may be free from your local library or purchased from the publisher.

    This instructional video is designed for schools, teachers, community groups, etc. as a tool for use with refugee and immigrant parents. The video serves as a brief overview to the many facets of school which might be new or different for refugees and immigrant parents, including suggestions for what parents might do at home to support school learning. 

    This video is available on DVD, along with its counterpart, "You Can Talk to Your Child's School."  Both videos come on one DVD and each DVD holds three languages (English, Arabic, and Nuer; English, Hmong, and Oromo; English, Russian, and Somali).  The Amharic and Spanish versions of the videos are only available in VHS.  Order the videos from the Minnesota Bookstore

  34. You Can Talk to Your Child's School. Minnesota Department of Education page s . 2001. Amharic Arabic English Hmong Nuer Oromo Russian Somali Spanish This resource may be free from your local library or purchased from the publisher.

    This instructional video is designed for schools, teachers, community groups, etc. as a tool for use with refugee and immigrant parents. The video focuses on the willingness of school personnel to talk with parents. Sample conversations between parents and school staff are portrayed. 

    This video is available on DVD, along with its counterpart, "You Can Help Your Child in School." Both videos come on one DVD and each DVD holds three languages (English, Arabic, and Nuer; English, Hmong, and Oromo; English, Russian, and Somali). The Amharic and Spanish versions of the videos are only available in VHS. Order the videos from the Minnesota Bookstore.