Teachers and schools which value diversity have a big impact on the academic experiences of Latino immigrant children living in predominantly white communities. This finding was the result of a new study by researchers at the University of Kentucky titled, “Children From Immigrant Families: Introduction to the Special Section”. The study appears in a special section of the September/October 2012 issue of Child Development on children from immigrant families.
According to the study, which looked at more than 200 third and fourth graders, primarily first- and second-generation immigrants from Mexico, in 19 U.S. elementary schools, with teachers valuing diversity, children felt more positively about their ethnicity and ultimately performed better than children whose teacher did not have the same values.
Christia Spears Brown, associate professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, who led the study, said, “This is important because feeling positively about their ethnicity was associated with children valuing school more, enjoying school more, feeling like they belonged at school more, and getting better grades.”
Teachers who value diversity are said to routinely discourage students from teasing their peers because of their ethnicity.
“Although schools can’t change their ethnic composition to make immigrant children feel less of a minority, they can show that they support multiculturalism,” Brown said. “They can help teachers see the value of diversity, and they can help their students feel positively about their ethnic group.”