Supporting Our Youngest Newcomers

If you’re like most folks, when you hear the word ‘newcomer’ you likely envision an adult person bravely setting out to build a new life in a new place. Most of us realize the that inevitable challenges will come with acclimating to a foreign country, to surprising new social norms, to a foreign language and everything that beginning life in a new place might entail.

Some of us, though, may forget to consider what being a ‘newcomer’ might feel like to a young child.  If we haven’t had that experience ourselves, we likely can’t even imagine what it may encompass.  What were the circumstances that led up to child’s family relocating in the first place? What conversations did children overhear when decisions were being made by trusted adults? What went through their little minds as bags were being packed or as a treasured trinket was being left behind? Whom did they, perhaps, give one last kiss or hug goodbye to as they left what they knew as ‘home’? Through the eyes of a young child, the emotional toll of the journey …whether on foot, or by plane or boat…may be something that we’ve not spent much time wondering about. Certainly, we can agree that there are lots of unknowns at play here, right? What we can be certain of, though, is that every child living in the US, no matter how they may have arrived in this country of ours, will attend our schools. And while as educators we can’t control our students’ family dynamics, how they’re received by politicians or by their new next-door-neighbors, we CAN control how they’re received and supported in our schools and in our classrooms.

We’ve been charged with the task of meeting  ALL of our students ‘where they are,’ academically and even socially, and to provide multiple opportunities for them to  learn and to thrive. Helping our students to feel safe, secure and valued all while providing a platform for academic success is what every educator strives for and wants to do well. Not a minor responsibility by any means!

Let’s talk academics from the vantage point of a young, early elementary newcomer. Learning to hear sounds in English, phonics & phonemic awareness, rhyme, conversational skills that over time will lead to reading and writing, Concepts about Print, high frequency words, new vocabulary and numerous other foundational literacy skills are all a ‘must’. It’s no secret that into today’s schools every content area revolves around being able to listen, to speak, to read, to write, and to comprehend. Now let’s talk social interaction. Newcomer children often are apprehensive when it comes to the ‘unknown’. After all, even under the best of circumstances, they’ve very likely just experienced some level of uncertainty, confusion and perhaps even fear. Maybe they’ve even stood by and witnessed their own parents or grandparents as they felt some confusion and fear, too!  How about anxiety that might come with the prospect of making a new friend when they aren’t quite sure how to introduce themselves or to confidently name simple words in that other child’s language? Phew! Where to begin?

Believe it or not, there’s an Oral Language Acquisition program out there that addresses all of this, and it’s called GrapeSEED. “All of this, really? Come on!’, you may be saying to yourself. Yes, all of this. Through thoughtfully created student centered Units and Daily Lesson Plans that include joy infused & interactive songs, stories, chants, action activities, shared reading poems, big books and more, GrapeSEED students quickly acquire immediately useful vocabulary and language expressions that will boost their confidence, have them interacting in English and growing in their literacy related learning at an unexpected pace. Your English Language Learners will grow as they engage during their daily teacher-led lesson and with their student app. And guess what else? A GrapeSEED Coach/Professional Learning Specialist will be there to support you every step of the way.

Want to learn more about GrapeSEED?  Just click here!

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