5 Ideas To Help Your Foster Children With Back To School
As summer winds down it’s time to get in that back to school mode. For some kids in foster care that means attending a new school and meeting new people. School is can be tough place and it can be amplified when in foster care. A child in foster care has all that home stuff to worry about on top of their school work and dealing with their peers. That 20 point assignment seems a lot less important when you’ve been abused for several years, you’re living in a new place, and you’re in limbo on when or if you’re returning home. We all remember how cruel kids are in school and there are a lot of stigmas that come along with being a foster kid. The good news is as a parent you can help make back to school a little easier to deal with. Here are five ideas to help your foster child be more comfortable going back to school.
1. Get you foster kids in groups activities.
One of the toughest parts of school for many kid is dealing with peers and making friends. Getting your foster kids into group activities such as youth group or sports can allow them to make friends before going to school. People pass judgment over appearance or preconceived ideas of what “foster kid” means. I think it’s easier to get to know someone during an activity compared to after just sitting in classroom allowing those preconceived ideas to set in. Having friends before school, even just knowing people, opens the door to networking with even more people.
2. Discuss school expectations.
Discuss with your foster kids what you expect in your home when it comes to school. If this child is new to your home don’t assume that somethings are just common sense. I always think it’s important to put everything out there that your expect from your foster children so there is no misunderstandings. Let your kids know what kind of grades you expect, the behavior expect and also the actions you expect out of them. For example I think that with my help and guidance my kids can AT LEAST be able to get a C+ or above. I expect them to behave in class with respect for both the staff and other kids. I expect them to follow through with the actions of coming straight home after school. Remember as humans we don’t learn well by being told “do this because I said so”. Give a reason the rule is important, not only because it’s less confrontational and more caring, but they understand what the consequences for their actions may be.
3. Let your foster kids get familiar with the area.
One of my bigger anxieties about going to school was not knowing where to go. I would think about embarrassing things that happen, like being that person that was sitting in the wrong class or forgetting where my locker was. My foster parents helped me a lot by letting me get familiar with the school ahead of time. I was able to see where my classes and locker were and also where I would need to go throughout the day. Small things like finding where the restroom was so I didn’t end up getting lost were one less thing to worry about.
4. Discuss social situations and how to handle them.
Some kids have more social issues then others but everyone has something at one point. Whether it’s being a foster kid, a kid of divorced parents, or even losing a parent, we all face things that make our lives different from others. Make sure you take the time to discuss these issues with your foster kids so they know how to respond to them. Also discuss with them what they are able to do with friends. It’s sometimes an awkward thing for kids if they don’t know what they are allowed to do. Let them know if they are allowed to have friends over or would be able to go to a friend’s house if the opportunity arose and things worked out. If they are older you may discuss with them if they are allowed to ride with people or what people they may not need to hang around.
5. Help your foster kids feel comfortable with themselves.
Do what you can to make your foster kids feel comfortable with themselves. Make sure you let them know how much you care and how awesome they are. If you’re able to let them help pick out their clothes, back pack, and school supplies they are more likely to feel comfortable with themselves. As a foster kid you feel like the odd one out. It’s cool to be yourself, but sometimes you just want to fit in. You want to dress like the other kids or have some of the “normal” things like they have. Sometimes being taught that you can be comfortable with yourself is the first step to being comfortable in your atmosphere.