Presentation of the project

The recent wave of immigration to Europe had been carrying with it big issues concerning the inclusion of migrants in the host countries. Although school is considered as a medium for integration, learning different subjects often meets barriers, not only those of language but even of understanding how things work in the new country.

Older children arriving have difficulties learning the new language (or becoming literate) as well at catching up with the curriculum. A lot of focus has been put on just this category, in some countries attending preparatory classes before being able to integrate the compulsory school or the upper secondary school, in others more or less directly put into ordinary classes, with variable success.

Meanwhile, very little focus has been put on younger children in the age of attending nursery school or preschool. For different reasons, some migrant families choose not to put very young children at school. A consequence of such a choice is that the child for example risks beginning compulsory education with no or poor knowledge about the language of the host country as well as social codes and practices (even hidden ones). As the person taking care of the child often is the mother, another consequence is that she will also have more difficulties with social inclusion or with getting access to tools for inclusion, for example by attending classes to learn the language of the host country.

The reason for choosing preschool as a focus is that preschool, although it is not compulsory in our countries seems to be a possible way for migrant families to better integrate and be included in the host country. For instance, parents or some member of the family usually bring younger children to school and are therefore given the possibility to come into contact with teachers and other parents, as well as to become familiar with the habits, traditions and way of life of the new country. In other words, preschool -or kindergarten- can be considered as a possible threshold to better inclusion not only of the children, but also their family. The main target group of the project is families with infants and children aged 6 months-7 years.

At every level, this project also aims at changing attitudes towards migrants and their families and at developing educational tools and professional development courses to facilitate the inclusion of migrants. It is also aimed at migrants themselves to help them understand different cultural codes, in order to become confident social actors in the host country.

One important and in our eyes original goal is to develop tools to facilitate the cooperation between different social actors such as municipalities, stakeholders, social workers, child and mother care centers, NGOs, libraries or other cultural meeting places, families of children from the host country to interact with school around the inclusion of recently arrived families. In other words, the global aim of the project is to promote preschool as a social and cultural meeting place and a tool for early inclusion for migrant families. Another objective is to compare the practices in different contexts and, although the situation may vary from one country to the other, develop common tools to improve the inclusion of immigrants in the host countries which may even be used at a European level. The different mappings and the educational tools developed through the project will therefore result in courses aimed for existing or future preschool personal and widely spread.