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Advice for working with Muslim parents

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by jonny10, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. Hi
    I'm starting a new job in a school (Rec class) with mainly Muslim families & need some advice as I haven't taught in this type of school before. Any tips? Any thing I definitely shouldn't do?
    When I spent the day there this week there were some Mums who spoke no English & there were no staff who spoke their home languages- advice greatly appreciated on this as well
  2. Hi
    I'm starting a new job in a school (Rec class) with mainly Muslim families & need some advice as I haven't taught in this type of school before. Any tips? Any thing I definitely shouldn't do?
    When I spent the day there this week there were some Mums who spoke no English & there were no staff who spoke their home languages- advice greatly appreciated on this as well
  3. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Check sweets for gelatine! You'd be amazed how many contain it. Double check that letters about trips etc are understood - other parents can help here, or older sibs at the school.

  4. Try this site for language resources:
  5. breadmaker

    breadmaker New commenter

    Be sensitive to the issue of pigs- some Muslim parents have no problem with them- they are just an animal, but others take great exception to the mention of the word and in front of their children, they prefer them to be referred to- if they have to be mentioned at all, as p-i-g-s.
  6. Congratulations for securing the job. Your best bet is to talk to the other staff and see if they can give you advise.
    There are two separate issue.s
    The first is language
    I work in a similar school and before we had support staff who could speak the families home language I identified one or two parents who could speak English as well as their home language and asked them to help explain things to those who needed it. In general the families are very supportive of each other. Also older siblings can be very helpfulif you would rather not involve other families in what you want to say. However there is usually one parent who can speak English (often the Dads in my school).
    Also in my experience it is far better to try to communicate verbally than to rely on written information even for the families who have good spoken English.
    Secondly you have the issue of the Islamic religion. It would be really useful to do some homework on this as the more you understand the better equipped you are to avoid any difficult situations. Other posters have mentioned a couple of pitfalls like gelatine in sweets (don't give them anything to eat unless it says suitable for vegetarians as this avoids the possibility of giving them anything which is not halal) , and pigs (some families are over sensitive about this - in reality pigs are considered to be dirty animals - as are dogs - so meat from pigs is not eaten although pigs exist and this fact needs to be acknowledged).
    Don't be suprised if Muslims do not offer to shake your hand - or avoid shaking yours. I'm not sure why but most Muslims don't do this. Unfortunately there as many different attitudes as there are families so your best bet is to respect the views of the families and equip yourself with as much knowledge about thioer faith as possible.
    Best of luck
  7. Hi, Ij've worked with a lot of Muslim families and like any other families, there are a wide range of people, good and bad. In general you are likely to find the children better behaved than their non-asian/muslim counterparts which makes life easier. Be aware that if you need to tell a child off, they probably won't look you in the eye as this can be seen as disrespectful, also they may smile which should be interpreted as apology rather than cheek!
    If you get a child who chooses not to speak at all, be aware that this is a stage that many children learning english as a second language go through. Elective mutes are often taking language in but still feel unable to speak, particularly in group situations. Speak to parents if you feel concerned that the child cannot speak at all, rather than is choosing not to.
    Getting changed for p.e. can be problematic but you probably won't come across this in reception.
    Use lots of puppets and other visual resources when telling stories to give interest to all children.
    I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy your new job.
  8. We have a lot of muslim families at our school and they vary greatly in the amount of English they speak and also their attitude. your school may have an interpretor or EAL support worker in school or connected to help translate.
    Model lots of language, use visual aids when working with children. Communicate in print is a great resource as you type in a word and it shows a symbol -ask school if threy have it.
    Beware when doing xmas plays/parties etc we have muslims who love fact their child has been chosen (even when the play does not have a religious theme) and others that won't let their children take part in rehersals and are not allowed to come to parties.
  9. You treat them like you would any other parent in any school! Regardless of ethnicity, beliefs, language barriers and so on!
    Is your concern about EAL or their ethnicity? Surely your school will have a SEND co-ordinator with whom you could speak to?
  10. inky

    inky Lead commenter

  11. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Of course, any teacher worth their salt will do some research into what is new to them, whatever the religion, culture and ethnicity of their charges.
    And let's not muddle up those three.
  12. Equal opportunities does not mean treating everyone the same. It's about treating everyone equally and meeting their particular needs, so finding out what those needs are likely to be means you are starting from a better informed position. All parents are not alike and teachers rightly go out of their way to find as much general information as possible before entering into a situation which is new to them. Of course all Muslim parents are not the same but there are some situations which are common in schools where most parents are Muslim which are unlikely to come up in a non Muslim school. It is very easy to give offence through ignorance and this forum is a good place to gain knowledge and understanding from more experienced practitioners.
  13. Story of Easter is more of an issue than Christmas. Muslims do not believe in ressurection although they do believe in Christams story to some degree- minus Joseph.
    I have moved out of a mainly muslim school to a more leafy suburb recently and I miss the vibe and enthusiasm that such multi ethnic schooosl can have. Use this potential barrier of langauge as an asset. I used to get lots of parents to come and help in the classroom - Buddy them up with a dual langauge parent and get them to support in school or run clubs during lunchtime etc. We had parents running sewing, art and cooking clubs. They are also a good resource for you to access the community - they would often go out and get us freebies for cooking etc.
    Embrace the experience. I loved it!

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