Teaching refugee children is a new challenge for some elementary school teachers, who are already experienced with teaching children who come from other countries. Refugee children need special attention due to gaps in their education and their experiences.
At Washington Elementary School in Wichita, Kansas, Marcela Richardson teaches a “newcomers” class of children new to the USA. Her 20 students range in age from 6 to 10 and come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia. Uganda, Turkey, Mexico, and Vietnam.
Richardson’s students are not only having to learn lessons, they are having to learn how to say them. The Wichita school district is asking the state of Kansas to teach the more than 200 refugee children they will serve this year.
9 year old Moses Kamanzi is a typical example of the challenges refugee children face. He is from Uganda, and is supposed to be in third grade. He has difficulty waiting in line. He speaks no English, and neither do his parents. He has never heard of sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on the carpet. Richardson has seen children with these difficulties before. Last year, Abida Fnu of Afghanistan was in the same position. This year, she is a top student.