Migrant students are students who move with their families as they search for work. These moves across school district lines may occur as many as two or three times each school year. Their parents are usually agricultural workers or fishermen who are compelled to move frequently in order to harvest and/or process seasonal crops and fish for a living. A family who spends the winter in Florida picking oranges begins to move north in the spring to pick peaches in Georgia and then to New York in the fall to pick apples. Once the apples are picked and the cold weather comes, the migrant family heads back to Florida until the following spring, when the cycle begins again. Other migrant families may fish during the fishing season in the Gulf of Mexico and move throughout the gulf coast states looking for work when fishing is in season.
While many migrant children were born in the United States, the majority of mobile migrants are primarily of Mexican, Central American, Puerto Rican, or Haitian origin. Many of these migrant students will move through a school district without ever finishing a grade and may or may not come back the following year after encounters with other schools. Irregular school attendance, traveling from one temporary site to another, and limited English language proficiency can limit the school success rate of these students.
Many of the U.S.-born middle and high school migrant students are fluent in English, but they have trouble succeeding in school because of the many risk factors associated with their highly mobile lifestyle. These students face the challenge of adapting to a new school, new teachers, new school rules and curricula, and new classmates many times each year. Migrant children draw a lot of strength from their family, which is the focal point and the one constant in their lives.
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