Ten Ways to Help Your Foster Child Succeed in School
As the new school year progresses there may be some bumps in the road for your foster child. Here are some tips to help them get back on track.
- Know their history. How have they done in school previously? Has their education been stable or have they had to move from school to school do to changes in their living situation?
- Know their teachers. Take advantage of opportunities to get to know their teachers. Doing so will make communication better when and if problems arise. You will be a better advocate if you have an established relationship with their teachers.
- Remember the basics. Getting enough sleep, eating well and being physically active are important for any child to succeed in school. When things are difficult in school they are even more important.
- Have a homework plan. Make sure your foster child is clear about expectations for getting their homework done. Having a regular routine in terms of when and where they do their homework can prevent some conflicts. Give them as much input as possible in setting up the routine.
- Help them find something in school they enjoy. Participating in a school-based sport, an activity such as chorus or band or joining a club can help your student feel more positive about school.
- Support their efforts to make friends. Especially for students who are new to a school, making a friend can go a long way toward helping them have something to look forward to each school day. Look for signs that they are connecting with other kids and find ways to support their budding friendships.
- Stick to a morning routine on school days. Some morning melt- downs can be prevented by having a consistent schedule for waking up, getting dressed and eating breakfast.
- Have a plan for helping your foster child when they resist going to school. Be matter-of-fact about school attendance…..”in our family we give school a try unless you have a fever”. At the same time, empathize with their feelings about wanting to stay home.
- Take advantage of opportunities to hear their thoughts about how things are going for them in school. “How was school today?” almost always gets nothing more than a one word answer. Take advantage of more relaxed times such as bedtime or when they are in the car with you to discuss how they are experiencing school.
- Remember to measure progress in baby steps. Just as in any other area of foster parenting progress in school will not occur in big dramatic leaps. Be attentive to small gains such as fewer meltdowns and less intense battles over homework. Make sure your foster child knows that you see that progress is being made.
And hang in there. Your support of your foster child’s education will make a difference. And, June will come again.
Written by Diane Kindler