As the end of the summer holidays approaches, it’s natural for foster children to start feeling a little apprehensive about going back to school. The summer is a time to kick back and relax and the prospect of early mornings, meeting new people and being back in a classroom setting can feel daunting for many children.
These feelings may be particularly acute for foster children, who may have had to face many difficult circumstances already in their lives and who may have had to change school or leave school friends behind.
As a foster carer, there are some things you can do to reassure children and help to make the transition to the new school term as smooth and easy as possible. Our education experts recommend:
- Talking to your foster child about how they’re feeling
They may or may not open up to you but invite them to talk about their feelings and concerns and let them know that they are not alone and that you care about them. Once you discover what is actually worrying them, you may be able to offer reassurance or take action to allay or reduce their fears.
- Let the school know they are a foster child
You don’t need to go into details but if you can talk to the child’s teacher before the start of term and explain that the child is in foster care, it can really help them to understand the challenges the child is facing. It may also help to let the school know when the child will be visiting their birth family as these visits can be tough for children and it can sometimes impact their behaviour and demeanour.
- Focus on the positives
You know what it’s like yourself when you are apprehensive about something, but if you can find some positive things to look forward to it can make it feel a bit less daunting. Find out a bit about the school they are going to. Maybe there are art classes or sports they can get involved with. Or you could make plans for things to do at the weekend that the child will enjoy. Talking to them about these things can help to balance out the things they are anxious about.
- Visit the school
If you can, take them to look around the school so they can get a feel for where they are going to be. Talk to the school to find out if you can bring them in before the start of term to have a look at their classroom and familiarise themselves with the layout of the school so they feel more confident on their first day.
- Prepare in advance
Minimise the stress of their first day by making sure that everything is ready well in advance. Make sure they have everything they need in their school bag and buy their uniform in plenty of time. Once they have their new timetable you can pin it up in the kitchen so you know exactly which days they will need their PE kit and so on. Preparing a packed lunch the night before can help to prevent a last-minute panic in the morning. If they like to eat particular things, make sure you stock up on these before the start of term.Add Image
If you have serious concerns about your foster child coming up to the start of term, talk to their social worker. It is a good idea, if you can, to develop a positive ongoing relationship with the school and their teacher. Share regular communication about how the child is doing and what would be helpful to support them.
As a foster carer with National Fostering Group you have access to a network of support, training and advice throughout the year. For more information about fostering with us, click here.