DESCRIPTION OF THE EXPERIENCE
This is the case story of two Ukrainian students in Portugal. The first is a Ukrainian student resident in Portugal since 2010, and who was integrated in the Portuguese school system since at the age of six. She´s nine years now and attends the 4th grade successfully and, based on her academic record at João Roiz school, she has been awarded the title of a merit student.
The student’s young parents, both German teachers, required a residence permit to the SEF-Service of Foreigners and Borders, through an employment contract for the father who worked as a metal professional. Currently he is unemployed. The parents were advised to register in the Portuguese Social Security System in order to access to benefits like health system care; child benefit, and unemployment benefit.
The mother is at home, and the couple has already another daughter (who is three years old), who is attending a kindergarten at the same cluster of schools as her sister. At this time the family consists of 4 people.
The major initial problem the young girl faced at school was linguistic. However, the student managed to overcome it easily with the support received from her 1st grade teacher, who lent the family books with images and matching words in Portuguese. The writing and reading process came easily, the student started writing and reading naturally without any kind of difficulty. During the integration process she felt the support of her mother, who studied and learnt the Portuguese language with her daughter, so that the student never needed specific support at school. The student’s mother and the teachers represented a great affective support and were very important elements to the positive reinforcement of the student’s learning, having contributed greatly to her success at school and in her social integration.
At school, the student benefits from a social program that provides school meals as well as school materials.
The student integrated well both in class and at school, as she was very interested and enthusiastic, with initiative and great sense of responsibility, very organized, revealing good social skills and group skills by respecting and valuing the opinions of colleagues. Therefore there were no problems in acquiring knowledge or on becoming autonomous.
The student participates in cultural, artistic, sports and other activities promoted by the school, she is also at the school Dance Club, and shows great interest in all these activities. On the whole this students displays an overall good biological, psychological, social and affective development.
This family came to Portugal with another Ukrainian family, with daughters of similar ages. The mutual support between the two families has contributed to a better integration in the country and at school which they attend successfully.
This brings us to the story of the second Ukrainian student, a six year old student, who came to Portugal in 2010, and enrolled in school since the 1st grade. Currently she is 9 years old and attends the 4th grade at João Roiz School. She has a good academic record, but she does not stand out as much as her Ukrainian friend.
Her young parents, both graduates, came to Portugal under the same conditions as the parents of the other Ukrainian student: the father, who worked in construction, is unemployed at the moment. The family also applied for Social security protection, and at school the parents were advised to apply for educational grants for food and books, which the student currently benefits from.
Initially there were some linguistic issues, because at home they spoke only Ukrainian. The 1st grade teacher lent, also, this family some books with images and matching words in Portuguese, so that the writing and reading process came easily. The student started writing and reading naturally without any kind of difficulties and no need of specific support at school.
Mother and daughter were supported by the other family, and this interaction, which involved mothers and daughters, and primary school teachers, contributed very positively to the successful integration of this student in the country and in the education system.
She is a good student, interested and willing to learn to better integrate. Although she may be reserved in expressing emotions, she’s able to work well in group, by valuing the colleagues’ opinions.
The student participates in cultural, artistic, sports and other activities promoted by the school. For a child living in a country with different language and customs, her personal, social and affective integration can be considered successful.