Sheila Nutkins, Catriona McDonald, and Kirsten Darling-McQuistan have been successful in an EU Erasmus + bid (Strategic Partnerships in Higher Education) with a total of 193,000 Euros. The partner universities are Uppsala, Sweden, Vienna, Austria and Prague, Czech Republic. The aim of the project is to increase knowledge about local, national and European strategies and good practice around the inclusion of young migrants (aged 6 months to 7 years) in some form of kindergarten / pre-school education as a means to encourage better opportunities for them and their families in terms of social orientation and inclusion in the host country.
The recent wave of immigration to Europe has been accompanied by many problems concerning the inclusion of migrants in the host countries. Although schools are considered to be a medium for integration, learning different subjects often presents barriers, not only those of language but even of understanding of customs and culture in the new country. To date little focus has been put on younger children in their pre-school years. Although attendance at nursery is not compulsory in any of the partner countries, we suggest that this is a way for migrant families to better integrate and be included in society in the host country. Other family members are generally responsible for taking children to and collecting from preschool provision and therefore do have the possibility of coming into regular contact with staff in the setting and other parents. We suggest that there is an important role for the preschool in supporting families to become familiar with the habits, traditions and way of life in the host country; in other words, a possible threshold to better inclusion, not only of the children, but also of their families.