With the end of August approaching us, it can only mean one thing: it’s back to school. For a lot of parents, this is somewhat of a relief, as there’s more time to get things done and take a breather while the children are away. However, maybe this is the first time you have a child attending school, or this first time navigating school with a foster kid- which will bring a new set of challenges.
You might face resistance with homework, or it may break your heart to see the tinge of fear on your kiddo’s face as you drive away after dropping them off. This is all normal and in a way, bittersweet. Later on, as your kids grow up, you’ll start to miss these things.
Talk to your child about school and why it’s important that they go. Try to paint it in a positive light, highlighting how they’ll meet new friends, do fun science experiments, and that one day- because they went to school- they’ll be able to be a firefighter, doctor, astronaut, or whatever they desire to be. Build their excitement!
Include them in decisions regarding school. Take them to pick out a backpack, lunch box and folders to use. If they need a lunch, let them make a decision into what goes in it! Allow them to express themselves through the clothes that they wear. Letting your children make their own choices and see the results of them sharpens their decision-making skills and promotes maturity. It also gives them a feeling of importance which makes them want to go to school, instead of feeling like we’re making them go.
Also, it’s important to develop a routine that your child starts to expect. Set a bedtime and stick to it- this will make the school season much easier because they know that they go to bed at the same time every night, and lessen the grumbling (eventually). Use alarms for their wake up time, and try to encourage them to get out of bed without you making them. For homework, set expectations that your child finishes their homework before they’re allowed to play games, watch tv or hang out with friends. This gives them freedom, while still practicing discipline.
If you’re worried about your child adjusting to school- keep an open stream of communication with their teachers and stay involved. Let them know about your situation and ask how they’re doing in class. When it comes to school, it takes some kids longer to adjust than others- every child is unique. Reach out to some other foster families in your community for tips or any questions you may have.