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Immigrant

© Beverley Paine, August 2007

[this article forms part of a series on Geography you can buy as a Practical Homeschooling booklet from Always Learning Books]

This activity can take as long as you like and can be presented as a discussion or conversation, or as a project or extended unit study depending on how interested your children are and where they want to take it. There is an enormous amount of learning that can springboard from this activity so consider it a 'starter'.

This activity can be done revisited every couple of years using different countries as points of origins. Your children will consolidate past knowledge, skills and understanding and will also deepen their awareness of the many issues relating to migration.

Have on hand an atlas and world almanac, and perhaps access to a set of encyclopedias or the internet. Visit the travel agent a week or so before you introduce the activity and pick up some brochures on your chosen countries. If you don't already have a 'people picture file' in your resources cupboard it's a good time to start one. Collect images of people and children from different regions around the world: collect images that show occupations and leisure activities as well as photos of smiling faces.

A good way to introduce this activity is with a current affairs clipping from a newspaper about migrant workers, illegal immigrants, refugee resettlement, or family reunification. This activity is a great way to follow up interest shown by watching the news, a documentary or a current affairs program.

To start the activity gather the materials you'll need as mentioned above.

You can prepare four or five cards with the name of a different country on each (or make a pack of them with two dozen or so countries) and ask the children to pick a card. You can choose to work on one country that is topical if you like, but if you have more than one child they might like to do a different country each.

Explain that you are each a person that has come from another country and you have just arrived by aeroplane this morning. Pick a category, either refugee, family reunification, illegal immigrant, illegal immigrant recently granted a temporary visa and released into the community, or a migrant worker.

Working on their own, in pairs or in small groups, have your children take five to ten minutes to briefly answer the following questions:

  • What were you able to bring with you?
  • Do you know anyone in Australia?
  • What services are available to you to help you settle?
  • What language(s) do you speak?
  • What is your ethnic background? There may be many different ethnic groups in your homeland and this might be one reason why you are in Australia.
  • What might be some of the most difficult things about living so closely to the other country?
  • What types of jobs might you hold?
  • Where do you think you will be able to find work?
  • How would things be different if there were no borders between countries?

You can add more interest, especially if you have several children over for an afternoon gathering, or are at a homeschooling group, by role playing. Prepare role playing cards beforehand: Centrelink official, immigration officer, employer, real estate agent/landlord, etc. You may need to provide situational prompts or problems that need to be resolved.

Try the activity again but this time everyone is a child, rather than an adult. How different is the experience?

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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!

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