With forced displacement reaching historic levels, schools all over the world are welcoming increasing numbers of refugee children. Teachers are facing new challenges in making sense of forced displacement and its complexities. Refugees and migrants regularly make headlines and the internet is bustling with information on the topic. Explaining the situation of refugees and migrants to primary and secondary school children has become part of many educators’ daily work.
In addition, training and guidance for teachers with refugees in their classrooms is not always based on best practice, and is not always easily available.
On this UNHCR Teaching About Refugees page you can find free-of-charge and adaptable UNHCR teaching materials on refugees, asylum, migration and statelessness and a section dedicated to professional development and guidance for primary and secondary school teachers on including refugee children in their classes. Use and combine these materials as you see fit in your lessons about the topic.
Understanding the terms refugees, migration and asylum begins with understanding a few basics. The word refugee is often used as a blanket term for people displaced by war, violence or persecution. But there are different categories of displaced people, each with specific needs. Knowing what these categories mean exactly is important and will contribute to better understanding of this complex topic.
Watch these explainer animations yourself as a preparation for your lesson or training. Choose which sections you need, and use them in your own lesson plans as well. The animations are suitable for use as teaching material for pupils age 12 and over.
Returnees are people who have returned home after being displaced.
Here you can find teaching materials about refugees, asylum, migration and statelessness for all age groups in primary and secondary education.
Click on the age category and find lesson plans, activity guides, videos and other materials to use in your class.
With forced displacement at a record high since World War II, many teachers now have refugees or asylum-seekers in their classroom. Teaching newcomers often comes with specific needs relating to language acquisition and adaptation to a new culture and environment. Some refugee children may suffer from stress or trauma preventing them from participating fully in school activities, and requiring specific support.
Below you will find some professional guidance to support you
Effects of stress and trauma on children
Executive function is often compromised when children experience stress and trauma. This video by Harvard University 's Center on the Developing Child explains some challenges that children suffering from stress and trauma may experience.
- Watch the video by the Harvard Centre on the Developing Child
- Download the activity guide for 5-7 year olds
- Download the activity guide for 7-12 year olds
Successfully including children experiencing stress and trauma in your classroom
This guide provides guidance on including these children in your class and school.
- Download UNHCR's Guidance for teachers and schools
- Activity sheet: download the cards for the number matching activity
Many organisations have created excellent teaching resources on refugees, asylum, migration and statelessness.
On this page you’ll find a curated selection of teaching materials from NGOs, governments and other organizations, which you can search by language and age group.