Preparing for the Challenges that Come with the New School Year for Fostered and Adopted Youth

Preparing for the Challenges that Come with the New School Year for Fostered and Adopted Youth

For some, the new school year has come with anticipation, excitement, and the promise of learning new things. For fostered and adopted youth, all too often it means the exact opposite and knowing what to anticipate and how to navigate are keys to ensuring the best possible experience for youth in your care.

There are central themes to help children succeed in school. Among the most prominent is knowing and understanding individual children and their needs. This responsibility falls on the school system, child welfare system and families – birth, kinship, foster and adoptive – of the children to understand who the child is and how they learn. Sometimes schools will be proactive in doing assessments that will help determine if there are special education needs. Too often, with foster and adopted children these assessments are bypassed.

The results can be mixed when the assessments are bypassed. Children can end up not receiving special education support which causes them to struggle and fall behind. There are other children who because of their perceived circumstances will be automatically placed in special education which can cause boredom and resentment because they do not need the support. For these and other reasons advocating for a proper assessment of needs is critical for children.

Beyond the importance of a formal skills assessment, the Pine Rest Newsroom offers 8 Tips for Helping Children with Back to School Concerns:

  1. Listen to worries and problem solve.
  2. Attend school open house together.
  3. Make back-to-school shopping fun.
  4. Start school routines at least a week before school starts.
  5. Involve your child in decisions when possible.
  6. Discuss school rules and routines.
  7. Help your child focus on the positive!
  8. Model positive coping skills by managing your own stress.

In addition to these eight tips, we would also offer the following:

  1. Advocate for your child’s needs.
  2. Help educate your teachers and schools on positive adoption and foster care language.
  3. Be prepared for school assignments that deal with families or genetics.

Being prepared for school assignments that deal with families or genetics is crucial in that these types of assignments can be very emotional for fostered and adopted children. An especially useful resource for this situation is Adoption Awareness in School Assignments: A Guide for Parents and Educators. In advocating for your child, when it comes to potentially triggering school assignments this resource is something you can make sure your child’s teachers and school knows about as a resource to help avoid these kinds of situations.

Whether it is the results from an assessment, conversations with your child, or research that you have uncovered yourself; it is easy to see how information is a key to a successful school experience. To offer help in your search for further information, here are additional resources for your back-to-school journey:

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