An international project which aims to determine the difficulties that young children face after crossing borders in relation to their identity, role and relationships - and ways educators can best support migrant and refugee children in schools and settings.
EECERA SIG is an international collaboration of five early years researchers who share a commitment to support children and families of refugee or migrant backgrounds within the early years. They are on a mission to "transform Early Childhood Education and Care settings into quality agencies, which are culturally appropriate, safe, welcoming and inclusive societies to achieve better outcomes for refugees and migrant children, and their families."
Part One (completed November 2022)
Using a Froebel Trust grant the project team developed an early years pack to promote awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by migrant and refugee children - as well as to celebrate the skills and attributes these children bring to enrich the learning experience in their school or setting.
The aim of the project is to enhance the development of a sense of belonging and identity for all children - embracing Froebelian principles and sharing the understanding and knowledge of the Froebelian approach to early childhood education.
"The education toolkit is a global play based resource for children aged 2-7 years that aims to approach and mitigate the challenges that refugee or migrant children may face in their new country. It aims to support early years educators by introducing ideas and concepts about refugee and migration experiences in a trauma informed way."
Featured in Nursery World
This research project and the toolkit were featured in Nursery World in July 2023Read the article
"... the toolkit provides a pedagogic means for social learning and cultural cohesion and demonstrates that supporting and listening to young migrant and refugee voices properly, ethically and equitably, is beneficial for all."
"Play helps children to connect with their inner self in relation to feelings, lived experiences and thoughts and therefore helps them to understand not only themselves, but the world and people around them."
The authors of the education toolkit are:
- Jennifer Koutoulas, Early Years Intercultural Association, a registered charity in Australia
- Dr Josie Gabi, senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, England
- Anzhela Popyk, doctoral student at University SWPS, Poland
- Donna Gaywood, doctoral student at Birmingham City University and CREC (Centre for Research in Early Childhood)
- Alison Tobin, doctoral student at Birmingham City University and CREC (Centre for Research in Early Childhood)
The Early Childhood Education Resource Pack was developed by the EECERA SIG members in response to the growth of migration flows worldwide. The pack was inspired by the international event The Walk organised by the Good Chance Theatre in 2021. The Walk presented a path of a Syrian refugee girl, who walked 8,000 km from Syria to the UK seeking peace after witnessing the war.
Part Two: Implementation in Poland and Evaluation Phase (in progress)
The second part of this Froebel Trust funded project focuses on the implementation of the education pack including:
- workshops to support educators working with Ukrainian refugees in Poland
- evaluation of the resource in Poland, Australia, Turkey, Greece and UK.
The play-based Educational Resources Pack for the Early Years aims to approach and mitigate the challenges migrant/refugee children face arriving in new countries. These can include challenges around:
- a sense of safety, stability and familiarity
- a sense of belonging and identity formation, adaptation and socialisation.
The pack allows educators to establish good contact with parents and communities through promoting the awareness and understanding of the challenges migrant and refugee children may face during their journey to and in the host country.
The planned workshops and activities are designed to reinforce children’s agency and empowerment through their active participation and by being listened to.
The research team will be sharing their work at a number of international conferences.
BECERA Birmingham, UK. (Feb, 23)
IMISCOE Warsaw, Poland. (July, 23)
EECERA Lisbon, Portugal. (Aug/Sept 23)
SEBDA Birmingham, UK. (Sept, 23)
Cork University Cork, Ireland. (Sept, 23)
ECA Adelaide, Australia (Oct, 23)