Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Back To School!

As you prepare to send your child or children back to school, there are many tasks that need to get done as the new school year approaches. If you’re a parent of a child through adoption, your list likely has additional tasks other than just buying school supplies and books for the new year. Each year, children usually have to start over again, with a new teacher and new classmates and when you add adoption into the mix, it complicates the transition even further. Children will likely get questions from new classmates and teachers alike about their family history. If the teacher is not familiar with adoption, it can make things particularly difficult.

Here are some tips to help you and your child with the back to school preparation:

  • Schedule a parent/teacher conference:

    • Give teachers a heads-up and tips for dealing with your child's specific behaviors that might be triggered by things like loud noises, violence, being left alone, food or holidays, etc. However, keep in mind that your child’s story is personal, and that information should only be shared if it's significant to their child’s daily care or education.
  • Provide adoption resources for teachers:

    • Recommend books to help teachers understand more about trauma and adoption.
  • Prepare for difficult assignments:

    • Typical class assignments that require baby photos or family tree exercises may be problematic for children who joined their family through adoption. These assignments can be easily adapted to still meet requirements and accommodate children with different histories.
  • Raise racial awareness:

    • Talk with teachers about enforcing a zero-tolerance policy and taking action to educate students early on to have a positive and knowledgeable racial identity.
  • Review tough questions:

    • There will always be tough questions for your child in new beginnings, especially with new classmates or a new school. Before school starts, it's important to review with your child how to answer questions he or she may be asked and their feelings surrounding these questions.
  • Evaluate Education Plan:

    • Determine if any changes or adjustments need to be made to the child’s current education plan and discuss progress or changes that have occurred with your child over the summer with the teacher.
  • Get involved:

    • Find ways to get involved at your child’s school, like volunteering in the classroom, chaperoning field trips, donating supplies, attending PTO meetings, offering to talk to your student’s class about adoption or sending teachers information on upcoming training sessions.
  • Allow your child to pick out a special outfit and new shoes for his or her first day.

  • Encourage your child to branch out in their interests:

    • Talk with your child and help them look for clubs that might be a good fit or sports teams that they might want to try.
  • Sit down and talk with them:

    • Just let them share their days with you. Ask questions about the class and listen to their answers. Listen to both- to what they are saying and what they aren’t saying. Kids who have recently been adopted from foster care have a hard time trusting adults, so this will take time but it’s crucial!

Other resources and tips can be found at Our Good Family 


Molly Dunlap