News

Roma parents in Slovenia are seeing the value of early education and care

In the period between the end of 2021 and spring 2022, National REYNs conducted research in their own countries on the situation of Roma families with young children (REYN Research Study). In Slovenia, the Educational Research Institute led this unique process in the country, which implied involving members of the Roma community along the development of the study. They gathered data from Roma parents, ECEC practitioners, professionals who work with Roma families, and from local and national policy makers.

In this article, we would like to highlight some interesting information obtained through questionnaires and focus groups with Roma parents. Mothers and fathers from Prekmurje and Dolenjska, two Slovenian regions with large populations of Roma, participated in the research which examined various topics, such as health and wellbeing, hygiene and nutrition, play and early learning, responsive parenting, family and living conditions, safety and security, and accessibility, availability and affordability of ECEC services. The main focus of this piece will be on how Roma parents feel about early childhood education and care.

Through the research it became evident that Roma parents are aware of the significant impact that they have on their children in the early years. This is illustrated by one of the fathers who said, “If I were to raise my voice to my wife, the children would hear us and this is not right. What kind of a message am I sending to my children with such behaviour?”

The parents also demonstrated an awareness of the importance of being caring and attuned to their children’s needs. It is important for parents to show affection to their children through a caring attitude, talking to them, and spending quality time with them. Especially for younger children, who cannot yet express themselves verbally, it is very important that parents do their best to interact and connect with the child in order to understand what it is they need. Many parents — mainly mothers — confirmed that they had no problems understanding their children and that they had a feel for what their children wanted to tell them. “A mother just feels what the child needs,” one mother said.

The value of preschool

We often emphasize how important it is for parents to view education as a value and to enrol their children in preschool early — enabling them access to quality education and care, and a supportive learning environment.

Participants in the studies agreed that attending preschool indeed supports children’s development. They witnessed advantages in the children in their acquiring a new language, understanding the daily routine, learning about tolerance and good manners, as well as improving their independence during meals (table preparation, serving the food, cleaning the table after eating etc.), hygiene, and dressing. Additionally, parents recognised that in preschool, children are able to make new friends, and learn how to act in society. All of these skills help children have a smoother transition into school.

Another huge benefit parents in the research saw in preschool education was that it gave their children an opportunity to learn the language of the majority. This is one of the most important factors in helping children to be successful later in school. Otherwise, it is likely that they would have difficulties with understanding the teachers’ lessons, their learning outcomes would be lower, and peers might tease them. All of these things have an impact on the child’s development and level of self-esteem.

Furthermore, some parents were inspired by the amount of effort that certain teachers and peers put into helping their children feel welcome at preschool. One couple shared that, ”Our daughter could not speak Slovene, when she entered school. One boy really tried to help her with the language as much as he could understand her. Then her teacher decided to attend a Romani language course to be able to help our children. All of us respected this noble decision. We also had another teacher, who regularly took our children to the playground and worked with them on their physical condition.”

However, there were also parents who expressed uncertainty about preschool. They feared that their children might not be given as much care as they receive home. For other parents it is difficult to take their children to preschool due to their demanding living conditions. In such cases, it is the duty of REYN Slovenia and the other national REYNs to work for and with these parents with the aim of empowering them, gaining their trust, and ensuring adequate conditions to enable them to enrol their children in preschool as early as possible. 

Authors:
Petra Zgonec, Mateja Mlinar
Researchers at the Educational Research Institute, coordinating institution of REYN Slovenia

8 April – REYN gives visibility to young Roma children affected by the war in Ukraine

This day last year, when we marked the 50th International Roma Day, we enthusiastically looked toward a better Europe for all, emphasizing the fundamental need for equality, inclusion, and participation to fight antigypsyism — we all hoped this year would be different.

But, one year later, the persistent discrimination and social inequalities that Roma in Ukraine face are only exacerbated by war. Roma are encountering additional hardships when seeking humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic needs, even while trying to cross borders to safety.

Today, we want to tell you the stories of young Roma children and their families experiencing additional adversity due to the war and share one organization’s work to bring hope on this 51st International Roma Day.

Hear me – See me – Stand with me tells the story of the REYN Ukraine‘s remarkable work, acknowledging their tireless efforts to create safe and welcoming spaces for Roma families fleeing war zones. A Station of Hope serves as a safe haven; it provides a welcoming environment where children can express themselves, be heard, play, and interact with peers. At the same time, parents can engage with professionals, learn, and support one another. Despite the harsh environment of war, a Station of Hope succeeds in building community and creating a sense of normalcy for children and their families.

Watch the video here. How will you contribute to making 2022 different for young Roma children and their families? Will you hear Roma, see Roma, stand with Roma? Take to Twitter with the hashtag #standwithRoma to join the conversation.

Khetaun sam zoraleder. Opre Roma! / Together, we grow stronger. Rise up Roma! 

Smoothing the Transition of Roma Children from the Trailer Park to School

In the city of Leuven, Belgium, many initiatives have been taken over the years to increase the participation of children of the Rom Traveller[1] families in the nearby schools. The efforts of different welfare organizations ensured that by September of 2021 90% of the Rom children were present by the start of the new school year. Various efforts contributed to this success, including exchange visits organized by REYN Belgium and providing insights and inspiration from the REYN network. The strength of the experience in Leuven is that different social organizations work together towards the same purpose: to ensure that Roma children attend school regularly and feel comfortable there, and that there is good school-parent cooperation. 

At the residential trailer park in Leuven, 30 Rom Traveller families are living permanently. The city of Leuven has made a conscious decision to invest in the establishment of social support services for the Rom families. In concrete terms, this means that two employees of the city are responsible for the entire functioning of the trailer park in consultation with the Rom families. As the employees of the city of Leuven are regularly present at the trailer park, trust has been formed between the families and them over time. Two staff members are the Roma families’ point of contact for support questions in different areas of life. Because of the diversity of questions, there was the need to start a broader network of social professionals. This network –  the so-called ROL team – consists of staff from Agency Child and Family, staff from the family support organization ‘De Mobil’ and social workers from the public centre for social welfare . With this group, two times a week they organize on-site consultations. In this way, they can take concrete action with regard to the families’ requests for support on different life domains, each on the basis of their own expertise. They work together with partners on housing, health, leisure activities for the youngsters. More and more parents by now are convinced that these services might be beneficial for them and their children and are willing to make contact.

Residential trailer park in Leuven

Involving parents in the transition

These partners are also involved in creating smooth and warm transitions from home to the schools in the neighborhoud, and they do it by motivating and reassuring families along the process.

A couple of years ago, members from the family support organization ‘De Mobil’ started to regularly organize a play-and-meet-moment for young parents and their young children (0-5 years). These pre-school activities are still going on where children can play with toys and games, while parents chat and discuss topics on education and family life. Parents can work out a picture book on their families, as a starting point for conversation. In the future, they will be able to lend the toys for a certain period. 

In organizing these activities on a regular basis, the professionals of ‘De Mobil’ have built a strong relationship with the families and have gained their trust. They also support the conversations between the parents themselves. One of the topics is going to school. Parents have many questions: how does it work, a school day? What do children there? How will the teachers react on children’s needs?

The staff of the local Agency Child an Family, who are also members of the ‘ROL team’ are involved in motivating and reassuring the families for school.

“While parents come to our consultation office for the medical check-up of their babies and toddlers, we talk about schooling. At first they think it’s too early for their child, but later they change their mind. We provide information on how to register, when school starts etc. Because they are not familiar with our education system, you’ve got to give them time.”

Hanne, nurse from Child and Family Agency

To put further trust in going to school and as an action due to the pandemic, two schools in Leuven took the initiative to  organize temporarily ‘homeschooling’. Two teachers came to the trailer park with lots of toys and playing-learning materials that are usually present in a toddler’s classroom.

“Parents have many concerns about the school: ‘What if my child is hungry or thirsty? Will somebody notice it and take care?’ By showing in their own environment how a toddler’s class is organized – with lots of toys and playful learning moments – they get acquainted with the benefits of schooling: ‘Look, it seems that he is just playing with little boxes, but he’s learning to count at the same time!’”

Lies, homeschooling teacher

Homeschooling had a positive effect. Parents and children got a better idea of what happens at school. They started to foster the idea of sending their children to school more regular and were more and more reassured that early school participation was important and an added value.

“The homeschooling period was a very good warming up, building positive experiences and gaining more trust in ‘the real thing’. Because of the support of many services and people, this was successful. Other practical problems still remain, such transportation to the school.”

Tim, social worker, city of Leuven

Due to these actions, the school supporting part of the project has been very successful: 90% of the children of the trailer park were attending school on September 1st, 2021. This is the result of many persistent actions of the ROL-team, two homeschooling teachers, other school teachers and directors.

“In August I went to visit all the families at the trailer park. You can call it a ‘motivation visit’. I wanted to prepare them that the first school day is coming. That helps a lot. On the first school days it is important to take away the worries of parents. We send them pictures and texts  to show them that their child is happy here and he’s got a lot of friends. Many parents can’t imagine their children sitting next to non-Travellers-children…”

Annick, school director

Thanks to the efforts of many, the transition from the trailer park to school is now much better. Still, it remains a precarious process, partly due to the corona pandemic, but there is much motivation among all partners to keep up the efforts when children talk about their experiences at school positively.


[1] Rom is one of the three groups of Roma population in Belgium. The other two are Travellers and Manouches/Sinti.

Up to 75% enrolment target for young Roma children in ECEC in Slovakia

Specific Steps of the Slovak Roma Inclusion Strategy 2030

The Strategy for Equality, Inclusion, and Participation of Roma 2030 was approved by the Slovak Government on 7 April 2021. This framework material forms the basis for action plans, which will always be drawn up for a three-year period, i.e., 2022-2024, 2025-2027, and 2028-2030. Representatives from REYN Slovakia have been actively involved in the development of the Strategy and Action Plans.

The Strategy is a framework document that defines the direction of public policies in order to achieve a visible change and improvement in the field of equality and inclusion of Roma in Slovakia. It presents a set of starting points and objectives that aim to stop the segregation of Roma communities and to make a significant positive turn in the social inclusion of Roma.

“The areas of employment, education, health, and housing are key to the fulfillment of the Strategy’s objectives, and special emphasis is also placed on stepping up interventions to combat anti-Roma racism,” state the submitters of the material from the Office of the Plenipotentiary of the Government of the Slovak Republic for Roma Communities.

The subsequent Action Plans propose measures in the same five priority areas that were previously stated in the Strategy.

Strategy and Action Plans

Education


The vision of the Strategy in the field of education is to increase the real participation of children from marginalized Roma communities in care and education. The share of the youngest Roma children under three years of age participating in early childhood education and care programs is to reach at least 30%.

“The proportion of Roma children aged 3-6 in pre-primary education is to be increased from the current 25 to 75%, ” the submitters state.

The Strategy also aims to halve the proportion of children from the marginalized Roma communities who repeat a year in primary or special primary schools, as well as halve the proportion of pupils from the marginalized Roma communities who drop out of school. Conversely, the proportion of Roma with completed upper secondary education is to be doubled to 45% for males and 40% for females.

In the education field, the proposed action plan focuses on the need to improve the results of children from marginalized Roma communities. Besides, it aims to improve the quality and number of teachers and assistants in the education of Roma pupils, to increase the capacity of schools and kindergartens in areas with Roma communities, and support measures for children and pupils from Roma communities with insufficient knowledge of Slovak, which is not their mother tongue.

Housing

The Strategy aims to eliminate significant inequalities in housing between members of the marginalized Roma communities and the majority population of Slovakia.

“By 2030, all residents of the marginalized Roma communities, and therefore all citizens and residents of the Slovak Republic without distinction, should have proper access to safe and potable water. Closely related to this challenge is the gradual legalization of technically compliant dwellings and the settlement of land on which illegal dwellings of marginalized Roma communities residents are located,” the material states. 

With regard to segregated settlements, the vision is to reduce the proportion of Roma living in segregated communities, as well as to reduce the total number of segregated settlements.

As stated in the proposal of the action plan, priority tasks in the area of housing are to reduce the number of illegal dwellings, to improve technical infrastructure and amenities in localities of marginalized Roma communities, but also to implement measures aimed at reducing residential segregation of Roma, for example through the promotion of rental housing in municipalities.

Employment

The Strategy aims to reduce the proportion of Roma aged 16 to 24 who are neither employed nor already in education from the current 68 to 40%, as well as to increase the employment rate of Roma aged 20 to 64 from the current 20 to 45%. In particular, the Strategy and its action plans will address the issue of Roma women’s employment, which is significantly lower than that of men.

The proposed action plan defines measures to increase the chances of Roma on the labor market, but also, for example, targeted support for equal access to self-employment and entrepreneurship, including social entrepreneurship, for persons from marginalized Roma communities.

Health

The global objective of the health strategy is to reduce health inequalities between Roma and the general population of the Slovak Republic, with the aim of reducing the gap in life expectancy between the general and Roma population by 50% over the course of a decade.

The tasks related to health in the action plan are designed to improve health conditions at the community level, and also aim to strengthen the professional qualifications of community health promotion workers.

Anti-Roma racism and support of participation

Besides, the Strategy sets targets for eliminating anti-Roma racism, with the ambition to halve the proportion of Roma who have felt discriminated against in the last 12 months. The Strategy will also use supportive anti-discrimination instruments to reduce the proportion of Slovak citizens who would not want a Roma neighbour from the current 54 to 20%. The aim is also to increase by 30% the confidence of Roma in the police.

In the proposed action plan, the section on combating discrimination against Roma and increasing their inclusion in mainstream society calls for anti-Roma racism to be legally recognized as a specific form of racism. One of the other measures proposed is to increase the participation of young Roma and Roma women in policy-making at all levels.

The Strategy and action plans were developed by thematic working groups in each area, with representation from different government departments and institutions, NGOs, the academic sector, and local authorities.

After a long period of participatory preparation of all materials, and a recent personal change on the position of the Plenipotentiary, the drafts of action plans proposing measures in five priority areas for the period 2022-2024 have been submitted by the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic for the inter-ministerial comment procedure.

More information about the materials and recent developments can be found here.

Photo source: Facebook of Mrs. Andrea Bučková, former Plenipotentiary of the Government of the Slovak Republic for Roma Communities.

The lessons a trainer learns 5: how can we manage biases towards the Roma in teacher training?

Bias is present everywhere towards the Roma, from the earliest years on. If it is hard to cooperate with the family, if the parents don’t attend teacher-parent meetings, if the child displays challenging behaviour, kindergarten staff might say: „It’s because they are Roma.”

It’s so much easier to say then to say that it is hard to cooperate or communicate with them because it takes longer to build trust. But when someone has been living in deprivation for so long with the stigma that it is their fault, then shame builds up. And shame stops us from asking for help, from trusting the other person.

Methods for conflict resolution and building bridges with Roma parents in creches, kindergartens and schools are not part of teacher training curriculum. There are great university initiatives and programs but they are not supported by the state education system in Hungary. This is why it was so important when Laura, a mentee in REYN 4 asked for help when she encountered teacher bias towards the Roma during her training to become a kindergarten assistant. 

She called me and told me that she got in a conflict with one of her teachers at her training the previous week. The teacher was telling a story about a family where the parents did not notice that their child got hold of his dad’s phone where a porn video was open and after that he started to make sexual moves towards the children in his kindergarten group. The teacher said that it is a ”cultural thing with Roma”, this kind of neglect. Laura was deeply shocked and angered by this statement and had the courage to stand up and tell the teacher that this generalisation is shameful. The teacher said she didn’t mean to offend her, this is just her experience but didn’t apologise. Laura got even angrier, raised her voice and started to cry. They argued in front of the class. The lesson ended without the conflict being resolved.

Laura was ashamed that she raised her voice but also outraged by the teacher’s attitude. She wanted to apologise but also wanted the teacher to apologise. Now what? I was afraid to get involved in a conflict between an educational institution and an individual but I felt I had no choice. This was the time to make a difference. I called the principal of the educational institution, told her what happened and asked for an extra hour where I could facilitate a discussion about what happened. Our association, Partners Hungary Foundation has been working with alternative conflict resolution methods for many years. As a trainer and facilitator of Restorative Practices, I realised that this is an important occasion where participants can talk about what happened, how they were affected by the situation and what can be done to make things right. I explained the method of a facilitated Restorative circle, the questions that could be discussed and that everything said by the participants will be kept confidential. To my suprise, the principal said that it sounds great and that he will arrage that extra hour for me. We agreed that he would let the teacer and the whole class know about that discussion ahead. Kudos to his open-mindedness, flexibility and sensitivity.

When I entered the classroom that Saturday, I was very nervous and felt like I was considered as an enemy by many of the people in the room. I asked Laura, who was also present, why some of the people were looking at me like that. She told me that the principal only told about the discussion to the teacher who interpreted that this would be a scolding from a stranger and this is what she passed on to the group. Great start – I thought. I introduced myself to the teacher and explained what is going to happen. That I am not here to judge who is a good or bad person, that we will only discuss how the people in the room were affected by last week’s open conflict and what can be done to make things better in this learning community . I told her that the content of this discussion will be kept confidential. I talked about my role as a mentor for Laura. The teacher’s face started to change – she didn’t look angry any more but rather curious and said she was up for it and we can start. I explained the same things to the students in the room and I also said that participation is voluntary. Some of the students in the room stood up to leave because they said they were still not convinced that this was going to serve their community and that it won’t have a negative effect on their teacher – whom they like a lot for her experience and kindness. It was hard for me to let them leave but could not force them. I told them how sorry I was about it but that I understood their decision.

I sighed. I smiled at the other participants, thanked them for their open-mindedness and asked them to arrange the chairs into a circle. I looked around and searched for eye contact. What I saw was twelve faces, some of them smiling, some of them looking curious and excited. What happened in those 60 minutes that followed exceeded my expectations. Simply sharing how situations affect us emotionally – in a safe space brings such a sense of community and cohesion. Let me share the details with you in the next post, keeping the participants’ anonymity.

The lessons a trainer learns 4: Too old to learn?

Laura was 48 when she applied to participate in the REYN program.

„Am I told old to enter a program like this?” she asked, looking away, as if ashamed of her age.

„Noone is too old to enter this program” – we reassured her, adding that it is admirable that she is ready to get a new qualification and start a new career. Laura sighed with relief. She had already worked in a kindergarten before, as a kitchen aid and sometimes she was also assigned to classrooms to help the kindergarten teacher. Now she was ready to get a training and qualification as a kindergarten assistant.

Laura started her training course in October 2018. Upon our regular mentoring meetings, she was usually cheerful and talkative during out meetings but I felt that something was missing. During the course, participants had to prepare for classes online, material was sent by the instructors by e-mail.  She didn’t tell me for weeks. Shame is a feeling that gets imprinted very easily but is very hard to overwrite with trust and acceptance. During our regular consultations, upon my questions about her progess with the material, she usually told me she is doing fine. I offered her to download and print the material but she said it wasn’t necessary, she can access it. On the third occasion, she admitted that her smartphone stopped working and she had no means to buy a new one but said it wasn’t a big deal since  she would borrow her teenage daughter’s phone to access the training material. However, two weeks before the final exam, when I asked again if she needed any support, she admitted that it is too complicated to access her e-mail inbox, she forgot her password and her daughter is reluctant to lend her phone to her. She didn’t even start reading the material.

At first, I was angry at her and myself. Why didn’t she trust me enough to tell me sooner? Why hadn’t I spotted out sooner this issue? Why didn’t I insist… then I realized: I could have only insisted on doing things she didn’t want me to do. Asking for help and accepting help is not easy at all when you have been told all your life that you are not as worthy as others. When you are „just a Roma woman”. I took a deep breath and set aside all my other work. I told her I understood that using an online platform we have no experience with is challenging. I told her that we can access that I’m glad she told me. That I can help her access her e-mail through my computer. That I will print everything out and we can even go through the material together.

„You would really do that?” she asked in misbelief. She expected me to tell her off. I told her I have time for her and we can meet again in a couple of days and as many times as she needs before her exam. So together we figured out how to set a new password that she would remember. We looked through all the instructors e-mails and printed out the exam material. I asked her to explain the exam structure and we devised a plan, breaking the material into sections and discussing what is the essence of each. She started to enjoy learning once a structure was in place. I started to enjoy her excitement. We met four times in two weeks and spent together a couple of hours where she could show me how she was progressing and we could discuss questions further and bring up real life examples so she could remember the essential points easier. She was especially nervous about the exam because she got in a conflict with one of the instructors who dropped a racist comment on Roma families and Laura did not hold her opinion back – more about this  one in the next blog post! She was afraid that she would fail the exam even if she knew every answer, simply because the instructors hate her. I assured her this could not happed. She looked at me and nodded: „Okay, then I’ll do whatever I can to pass the exam”.

When the exam day came, both of us were nervous. I knew she was ready. She managed to finish the material, she read and understood everything and we agreed that whenever she gets stuck, she would think of an example from her previous work experience in the kindergarten. She promised to text me as soon as the exam is over. At noon, I got a message: „I got a 4! I passed it! Thank God and thank you!”

In Hungary, grades go from 1-5, 5 being the best. 4 is great. Laura did great! We both learned so much on trust. 

Education of Roma children from marginalized communities: the Slovak experience

In Slovakia, ensuring quality education for the whole population is still a problem.

By Prof. Stefan Porubsky, Skola dokoran – Wide Open School

Pupils who come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds show a significant failure rate in PISA tests (OECD 2018). This is because their family background is unable to create good conditions for their home preparation for school tasks.

On the other hand, the schools are not able to use educational strategies that respect the educational needs of these pupils. Pupils from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, with a different mother tongue and a different language code than the one used at school find themselves in the position of outsiders with a high risk of school failure.

This is particularly the case for Roma pupils from marginalized communities who carry all three risk factors (socially disadvantaged environment, different mother tongue, different language code).

Preventing segregation

The problem is that schools are not sufficiently prepared to work with this type of pupils, it is very common to place them (often right at the start of compulsory education at the age of 6) in special classes in mainstream primary schools or special schools, meant for pupils with mental disabilities.

Thus, it is not unusual that special classes in primary schools and classes in special primary schools are made up of Roma pupils only. This creates barriers that prevent the creation of an inclusive environment in schools, and the situation of Roma pupils from marginalized communities is a serious social problem in some localities. The solution requires a comprehensive approach, with changes in approach to the organization of their education.

Two areas are very important

The first area entails creating such conditions that will allow Roma children from marginalized communities to have the same starting point at the beginning of compulsory education as the children from the majority. The solution could be to enable all these children to be included in compulsory pre-school education in kindergartens.

The second area is the gradual and systematic creation of inclusive environment in primary schools to enable these pupils to participate fully in the educational process, taking into account their social and language specificity, as part of the compulsory education.

The law against segreagation

Despite the adoption of a new law introducing compulsory pre-school education from 5 year olds in 2019, which is undoubtedly a sign of progress, the issue still raises some doubts. The most important question is whether the state will create sufficient capacity in kindergartens to train the whole population and, in particular, whether it will create conditions for taking into account the specifics of Roma children from marginalized communities in the process.

Will the preschools have sufficient support staff, such as teacher assistants with Roma language, and will the teaching staff be able to respond in a pedagogically suitable way to the different habits, mother tongue and language code of these children? Besides, neither kindergartens nor primary schools currently have sufficient methodological support to teach Slovak as a second language.

It is as if the law did not expect schools that are not created explicitly for national minorities (for example, the Hungarian national minority in Slovakia, but not the Roma) to teach children whose communication language is not Slovak. These challenges of introducing compulsory pre-school education require not only financial and staffing capacity but also time. It was therefore decided that the Act would not enter into force until January 2021.

Best practices

An even more complex problem than the introduction of compulsory pre-school education is the challenge of creating an inclusive environment in schools to enable Roma children from marginalized communities to be fully integrated into the educational process, taking into account their social, cultural, linguistic, and personal needs. There are many examples of good practice in Slovakia as regards to the creation of inclusive environments in schools, especially in locations with a high concentration of Roma living in disadvantaged social conditions and segregated communities.

One of the successful civil society organizations is the non-profit organization Wide Open School, which has been operating in the field for 25 years. Its activities and programs are targeting Roma children and their families in marginalized Roma communities. A model example of good practice is the cooperation between Wide Open School and the school in Spišský Hrhov .

The municipality of Spišský Hrhov is a model in solving the problems of marginalized Roma communities in Slovakia. It has a comprehensive program that includes the creation of equal opportunities in education. The joint programs of the local elementary school and kindergarten create better conditions for Roma children and pupils and these children achieve better school results. The teachers participate in trainings and workshops to be able to implement educational strategies that respect the cultural, social, linguistic and individual characteristics of this group of children and pupils.

The creation of the TOY for Inclusion Play Hub in the school has strengthened the school’s non-formal activities. The Play Hub provides socially disadvantaged families with the opportunity to borrow toys and games that they could not afford otherwise. Parents of Roma children have the opportunity to experience and understand the function of play in the personal development of their children and learn which games and toys are suitable for their children. At the same time, the barriers between the school and the pupils and families are overcome. Both the children and their parents are gradually getting the feeling of becoming full-fledged members of the school community.