As Summer Break comes to an end and the focus shifts to Back to School night, new clothes, and catching up with school friends, it’s natural for kids to get excited for the start of a new school year.  While children in foster care might also feel the excitement, there’s a high probability that returning to school could be met with trepidation. Their anxiety is understandable.  We’ve provided a list of several ways to help your foster child transition to a new school.

  1. Allow Time for Your Foster Child to Prepare – Consider contacting your foster child’s school and asking for a private tour before Back to School Night.  Arrange in-person meetings with the people your foster child will frequently interact with once school is in session. This not only allows your foster child the opportunity to know what to expect the first day, but it also affords them the opportunity to take in everything without the added pressure of unfamiliar faces and crowds.
  2. Create a Schedule –  Be proactive and define the “new normal” by merging their current and familiar schedule, with a newer, simplified schedule of what your foster child can expect now that Summer Break is coming to an end.  Depending on their age, the schedule could include details such as wake-up times, transportation, bedtimes, and their homework schedule.  Be sure to pencil in a time to chat each day!
  3. Shop Together –  While Back to School shopping may not be a favorite activity for parents, try to make it fun this year!  Invite your foster child to be part of the process from choosing new clothes to selecting their favorite school supplies.  Print a copy of their school supply list, hand them a pen, and let them find, select, and cross off the items.
  4.  Get Involved – Schools often need parent volunteers for various projects.  PTA/PTO, special events, picture day, etc…  If you have room in your schedule, sign up!  Active parent participation will show your foster child that school is a fun and safe place.

Above all, don’t expect instant results and allow room for flexibility as the transition begins.  Be transparent and predictable.  Children thrive in stable and familiar environments during times of change and, ultimately, look to you for guidance, love, and support.

Best wishes to you and yours as you embark on this fulfilling journey together!