Saturday, August 15, 2015

Welcoming the Family from Slovakia

In an homage to my father’s heritage, I am choosing to welcome a family from Slovakia into my classroom. Here are some of the ways I would welcome the child and the family into the Kindergarten classroom. The classroom activities would depend on a number of factors such as the grade of the classroom and whether the new student is already speaking English. Additionally, it would also depend on whether I have local resources to tap into such as a community of speakers.

I would inform my class of the new student coming in on Monday. Then we would look at the map. We will look for their capital, Bratislava and mark it. I would also show pictures of some of the their known points of interest such as Bratislava Castle, HighTatras, and Michael’s Gate. We would keep the map up on the wall and create a welcoming sign. It would be put up next to the map.

If I could, I would have a translator come to the classroom to interpret for both our class and the family when we welcome the child and the family to the classroom. I would ask the family to introduce themselves in their native language and have the children introduce themselves as well. Then possibly, we would ask the parents to teach us how to pronounce the child’s first and last names.

We would have either one of the family members or a Slovakian community member talk about the history of Slovakia and use the welcoming map that we have on the wall.

We would then read a children’s book about Slovakia; possibly someone from the community of Slovakian speakers can read the book in Slovakia and then again in English. Slovakia: Picture Book is a great choice, and so is Ogistis ak souri li or Augustus and his Smile.

In consultation with the family, I would host a day when we would eat Slovakia food in the classroom. Although I know we eat stuffed cabbages, I would check with the family to make sure they still eat the same type of food as I did.

There is a list of folk festivals – usually during the summer months -- with dancing, local costumes, and food. I would consult with the family to see which folk festival or tradition that is important to them. Then invite them to host it for the class and if appropriate for the entire school body. I could ask the PTA to sponsor the event if it becomes a school-wide event.

Finally, even if the child has been welcomed into the classroom, I would periodically check in with the family to make sure they are adjusting to life in the United States and in the community where they live, whether there is anything they would like to know more about. Whether they think if their child is doing fine in the classroom. Whether there’s anything we could be doing more of for the child and the family.

The attention to the individual child benefits the child and the family by our communicating through our actions that the child is important and worth our taking actions to ensure that the child is adjusting and having her/his needs met.


  1. Hello Marla
    When children and their families are from other countries it is important to make them feel welcome and comfortable. I like your idea of the map and having a translator in the class. It is very important to have that open line of communication with the families in order for them to ensure their child is having their needs met.

  2. Hi Marla,

    Enjoyed reading your post, your ideas would make every child feel welcomed and part of the class. I also support establishing and keeping the lines of communications between home and school open. I welcome and appreciate your idea of inviting some one from a similar ethnic group.
    It is always so much more interesting hearing information first hand.

  3. Hi Marla,
    I really liked your idea of posting the map and creating a welcome sign. I would make sure the welcome sign was in both English and in the Slovak language so that the family feels welcomed in their native language and in the primary language of their new country. .

  4. Marla,
    I like the idea of having a translator to help with communicating. A translator can definitely make you and the family feel comfortable about dialoguing. Translators are sometimes hard to come by. Where I work, we use to have them but due to the budget we have to use a phone service. The phone service do not allow both parties to form a relationship because we are talking through a phone and not each other. A translator will make it much easier to ask questions.

  5. Marla-
    I like how you thought about letting the class participate in welcoming the student. I'm sure that, that would make the new student settle into their new environment.