School can be stressful for any child between homework, tests and making friends, but for foster children it can be particularly difficult. Along with facing the typical challenges of the school year, your foster daughter must do so while coping with her past and possibly worrying about her future. This additional burden can shift her focus away from her education and lead to struggles throughout the school year. As a foster parent, there are several things you can do to help your foster child achieve academic success.
Connecting with the School
Forming a good working relationship with your foster daughter’s teachers, school counselors and administrators will go a long way in helping your foster child achieve academic success. Let the staff know they can always contact you with any updates, concerns or questions about your foster daughter. For this line of contact to be as effective as possible, it needs to flow both ways. Informing the school staff when your foster daughter has been dealing with issues at home can aid them in being ready to help her through it at school. You should let the school know about upcoming visitations your foster daughter has with her biological parents so the teachers and counselors are aware that she may be distracted or anxious at school.
Helping with School Work
The need for academic support doesn’t end when your foster daughter leaves school for the day. To help your foster child achieve academic success, the support needs to continue at home. Along with offering to help with homework and studying, look for other outlets to continue teaching her in her downtime. Brenda Morton, an associate professor of education at George Fox University, reported that 64 percent of foster children with an average age of 17.5 were reading at or under an 8th grade level. To help her catch up with her classmates, read books with her at night and let her read parts out loud. Doing so not only helps her develop her reading ability, but it also develops her confidence in public speaking situations.
Work with your foster daughter and her teachers to set realistic academic goals for her to achieve throughout the school year. Encourage her along the way, and celebrate every achievement to keep her motivated.
Participating in School Activities
Forming friendships may not be on your foster child’s mind as she works her way through everything life has thrown at her. However new friendships with classmates will give her a fun reason to want to go to school and may help her feel like every other child. One of the best ways to do this is to get your foster daughter involved in extracurricular activities, such as school sports, clubs, and art-centric programs. These programs will not only help her make new friends but also help her develop new skills and possibly discover a new passion.
Participating in school activities isn’t limited to just your foster daughter’s involvement. Dr. John DeGarmo, director of the Foster Care Institute, reports that, “children who have parents who volunteer generally have better grades, score higher on tests and have better social skills and behavior.” Your involvement with the school doesn’t need to take up all of your free time; it can be for as long as you are able. Your continual presence at school events shows your foster daughter that you’re around to support her and can help keep her motivated throughout the school year.
Dr. DeGarmo reports that, “55 percent of children in foster care will drop out of school and not graduate with a high school diploma.” Foster children deal with the added stress and anxiety caused by their past and must cope with those issues while also facing a full course load at school. Sharing this burden with your foster daughter is the first step to helping her overcome this statistic. Being actively involved in her academic life can help your foster child achieve academic success and motivate her to not only graduate high school, but also college. Showing your interest in her school work, offering a helping hand and encouraging involvement may not seem like the most impactful gestures to you, but to her, they might make all the difference.
One thought on “How to Help Your Foster Child Achieve Academic Success”
For my teenage foster son who’s in GED prep classes, I made a chart showing four 30-minute study blocks per week and posted it on the fridge. To add an element of competition, my name is on there too, because my goal is to study my second language for the same amount of time (but I’m not really part of the contest–he’s only “competing” against himself). Every time he studies, he writes the date next to one of the blocks of time on the chart. At the end of the month, if he’s completed all the blocks of study time, I’ll take him out for ice cream or a burger!