SIMCUR – Social Integration of imMigrant Children - Uncovering family and school factors promoting Resilience

NORFACE – New Opportunities for Research Funding Co-operation Agency in Europe, is a network of the German Research Council (DFG) and 14 other national research funding organisations in Europe and Canada, co-operating since beginning of 2004. NORFACE has funded 12 transnational research projects on migration in Europe.

SIMCUR is one of these 12 projects. Principal Investigator is Birgit Leyendecker (Psychology Department of the Ruhr University/ International Centre for Family Research ICFR) in cooperation with Axel Schölmerich (RUB), Judi Mesman and Marinus van IJzendoorn (University of Leiden, The Netherlands) and Brit Oppedal (Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway).

Goals and Objectives

The main objective of the proposed research was to uncover the processes underlying developmental resilience in children from immigrant families during the transitions to primary and secondary education in three European countries. We examined these processes on the level of the individual, the family, the school, and the community. By comparing children in Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway, the study will also elucidate the impact of broader societal influences.

Mastering major educational transitions is a critical indicator of social integration and is related to individual psychosocial adaptation. Elucidating the processes underlying migrant children’s adaptation to these transitions provides insights for theories of child development in general, and theories of resilience in migrant children in particular. These insights can be translated into recommendations for suitable ways to support migrant parents, to organise the educational system to foster equal opportunities for children from migrant families, and to construct policies that will facilitate the overall societal success of migrant families.

Design and Participants

German Site:

In a longitudinal cohort design based on the two school transitions, we studied 380 immigrant families with origins in Turkey and 120 non-immigrant German families.

Cohort-sequential design with three cohorts:

In Die 1.jpg

Youngest cohort: before the transition to first grade and again at the end of first and at the end of second grade (ages 5-7/8)

In Die 5.jpg

Middle cohort: before the transition to secondary school (in Germany at the end of fourth grade) and again at the end of 5th and 6th grade

In Die 8.jpg

Oldest cohort: Because transition in the other participating countries took place after 6th grade, we collected data at children and their families at the end of 7th and 8th grade.


At each assessment, variables from all levels of functioning will be measured using multiple methods (observations, interviews, tests, and surveys), obtained from multiple sources (children, mothers, fathers, teachers, and principals).
Data collection at all three sites was finished in summer 2014.
Data publication at GESIS is scheduled for summer 2016.

Publications (German site only)

Spiegler, O., Sonnenberg, K., Fassbender, I., & Leyendecker, B. (in press). School adaptation and cultural identity change. International Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.

Spiegler, O. & Leyendecker, B. (2017). Balanced cultural identitites promote cognitive flexibility among immigrant children. Frontiers in Psychology, Section Cultural Psychology. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01579.


Willard, J.A., Hammer, C.S., Bitetti, D., Cycyk, L.M., & Leyendecker, B. (im Druck/ 2017). Mothers’ depressive symptoms and their children’s Turkish heritage language vocabulary development. International Journal of Bilingualism. DOI: 10.1177/1367006917709095

Jaekel, J., Leyendecker, B., & Agache, A. (2016, in press). Inconsistent paternal behavior predicts Turkish immigrant and German children’s and adolescents’ mental health. Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior, 4(4), 1-5. doi: 10.4172/2375-4494.1000307

Spiegler, O., Güngör, D., & Leyendecker, B. (2016). Muslim immigrant parents’ social status moderates the link between religious parenting and children’s identification with the heritage and host culture. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, online first, 1-19. doi: 10.1177/0022022116665170

 Spiegler, O., Verkuyten, M., Thijs, J., & Leyendecker, B. (2016). Low ethnic identity exploration undermines positive inter-ethnic relations: A study among Turkish immigrant-origin youth. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. DOI: 10.1037/cdp0000090

Leyendecker, B. & Agache, A. (2016). Engagement türkischstämmiger Väter im Familien- und Erziehungsalltag fördert das subjektive Wohlbefinden von Kindern. Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychiatrie (65), 57-74.

Kohl, K., Jäkel, J., & Leyendecker, B. (2015). Schlüsselfaktor elterliche Beteiligung: Warum Lehrkräfte türkischstämmige und deutsche Kinder aus belasteten Familien häufig als verhaltensauffällig einstufen. (Parental involvement in school is the key to teacher judgement of Turkish immigrant and German children’s behavior problems). Zeitschrift für Familienforschung/ Journal of Family Research. 193-207.

Spiegler, O., Leyendecker, B., & Kohl, K. (2015). Acculturation gaps between Immigrant Turkish Marriage Partners: Resource or source of distress? Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Online first, 1-17. DOI: 10.117/0022022115578686

Jäkel, J., Leyendecker, B., & Agache, A. (2015). Family and individual factors associated with Turkish immigrant and German children’s and adolescents mental health. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24 (4), 1097-1105. DOI 10.1007/s10826-014-9918-3,

 Spiegler, O., Willard, J., Kohl. K., & Leyendecker, B. (accepted for publication). Acculturation gaps in Turkish immigrant couples: Resource or a source of distress? International Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.

Jäkel, J., Leyendecker, B., & Agache, A. (2014). Family and individual factors associated with Turkish immigrant and German children’s and adolescents mental health. Journal of Child and Family Studies,

Willard, J., Agache, A., Jäkel, J., Glück. C., &  Leyendecker, B. (2014) Family factors predicting vocabulary in Turkish as a heritage language. Applied Psycholinguistics, 1-24.

Kohl. K., Jäkel, J., Spiegler, O., Willard, J., & Leyendecker, B. (2014). Eltern und Schule – wie beurteilen türkischstämmige und deutsche Mütter sowie deutsche Lehrer elterliche Verantwortung und Beteiligung? Psychologie in Erziehung und Unterricht, 61(2), 96-111.

Leyendecker, B.( 2011). Children from immigrant families – adaptation, development, and resilience. Current trends in the study of migration in Europe. International Journal of Developmental Science, 5, 3-9.