Often, despite our best efforts, children in foster care can experience stigma and discrimination in school with their peers seeing them as different. Some children in foster care are also required to move school frequently making it hard for them to understand the curriculum and make friends. This often means that motivation can waiver and, in some cases, truancy can occur.
That’s why it’s so important, as a foster carer, to support your child through their education and ensure they have clear goals that can be met. Read on for our compilation of the top 10 tips for supporting your foster child and their education.
Foster children may not be as disciplined or motivated to do homework, as their biological parents may not have encouraged them before they were in foster care. Equally, when children encounter homework hurdles without support, it can be easy for them to give up. It is important that you both encourage homework discipline and show you are always on hand to help. Set aside time every night as homework time – for an hour, make sure you are in the same room as them and ready to support if they need it.
During this time, you should not smother or sit over them, but be ready to help if they require. Perhaps bring some of your own work to do – maybe read, focus on a personal project or work through expenses. Just ensure that you are available for them if they need you.
Establishing clear guidelines and expectations around school performance is important as it gives your child something to aim for. Make sure your child to knows exactly what you expect of them in terms of homework, uniform, attendance and, of course, grades. This will give then clear goalposts to aspire towards – making them care more about putting in the work to achieve academic success in school.
When we reflect on our time at school, we tend to remember the school trips and extra curriculars as the highlights. Make sure your foster child doesn’t miss out on these by setting aside some money monthly and keeping a pot of money just to support their extra curriculars.
It is also important to show your support through action. For example, if your foster child takes an intertest in performing and joins the drama club, make sure to watch each production. If they choose to play football, show up to their matches. It is important to show that you are proud of their achievements.
School friendships are tricky enough to navigate at the best of times but as a foster child, they will have to deal with unfair stereotypes and stigmas. Help your child understand how to make, and keep, friends, and allow them to visit them outside of school hours too, to strengthen their relationship. Asking your child if they want to host friends will encourage them to maintain relationships.
As well as having a set up at school, it is important that there are some basic learning materials always available at home. Ensure that you have a computer with internet access, stationary and a quiet place to work.
If your foster child is struggling at school, they may not be comfortable enough to communicate this with you. That’s why it’s so important that you have clear, constant communication with the school on their current situation and progress. With this kind of visibility, you will be able to tailor your approach to their education based on the facts. For example, if they are performing particularly well, you can ease off, but if they are not hitting your expectations, you can work through it with them.
Make sure you attend all open events and parent-teacher evenings as well as encouraging open lines of communication with their form tutor.
While at school, it can be hard to fathom how important education is, especially without long term goals. Take your foster child aside and have an open discussion about their career goals. Don’t say anything disparaging - just show support and talk them through how school can support their future hopes and ambitions.
Moving from primary to secondary school can be a daunting experience, so it’s important you prepare your child for the big jump. We recommend doing the following things to ensure your child is ready for the next stage in their schooling career:
For more advice on how to prepare your foster child for secondary school, read our helpful blog post.
Truancy can happen for a number of reasons such as bullying, problems at home or struggling with schoolwork, but it is important you are armed with the tools to prevent it. If you are informed that your foster child is skipping school, start by having a conversation with them – ask them why they are skipping and try not to get angry, as this could make them defensive.
Once you have ascertained the cause of the truancy, it is up to you how to proceed – you might need to involve the school or, if you want outside help, your Capstone supervising social worker will be able to offer you advice.
Reading is a fundamental skill to have – it helps build your child’s vocabulary and improve their general listening skills. If you look after young foster children, it is important that you encourage them to read to grow their abilities. When young children gain a passion for reading, they often carry this forward into later life.
If you’re struggling to help your children to read, check out our compilation of the 20 most recommended books for foster children and their carers.
If you have any more questions about the best ways you can support your child in their education, or about fostering in general, get in touch with our friendly team today.
If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
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