Today’s children are the most ethnically and racially diverse of any age group in the United States, according to a 2011 article in the journal Future of Children. And immigration is fueling that diversity; by 2050, one-third of all U.S. children will be immigrants or the children of immigrants.
This rich and growing population brings a wide array of skills and strengths to classrooms and communities. Immigrant students speak two, three, and sometimes as many as six or seven languages. Many have navigated multiple countries and schools, and their persistence is striking. Some have demonstrated tremendous resilience, surviving wars, refugee camps, and gang fighting.
In my own practice, I’ve seen how these students often act as linguistic and cultural translators for their families, helping parents with government or medical paperwork. In school, they support classmates, bridging the gap between teachers and the most recent arrivals, or helping new families during the enrollment process. Outside of class, they often work long hours to help support their families, or they act as essential caregivers to younger siblings.