Back to School Advice for Foster Carers
Back to School Advice
The summer holidays have drawn to a close, and the return to school is looming. But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, things are going to be a little bit different this year. Usually, back to school advice consists of gathering supplies or seasonal clothes, registering for activities or helping children manage their excitement or worries.
It’s understandable that Foster Carers and young people may be experiencing greater levels of anxiety and stress than usual. You may be frustrated about vague re-opening plans from the school; and worried about whether children will be able to understand and follow social distancing rules.
For foster children, a change in routine can sometimes be challenging and it can take time for them to adjust. Foster Carers will play an influential role in helping young people cope, encouraging a positive back-to-school transition and helping to reduce their anxiety and worries. We’ve put a couple of tips together that may help you and your foster child with adjusting to this new routine.
Have honest, open discussions
Although you may both be worries about certain things, avoiding important conversations can lead to more persistent feelings of anxiety. Have honest, open conversations around the facts of Covid-19 and it’s effects on returning to school. The depth of your conversation should be based on the age and maturity level of the young person.
Start by talking through what might look and feel different for them this year in school, like seating plans, class sizes and hygiene facilities. Ask about their concerns, and whether they have any questions for you. Talk through their worries with them and reassure them that you are there to discuss anything that crosses their mind.
Build a predictable routine
Usually, if we can control something it makes us feel safe because it becomes predictable. If something falls out of our control, it can lead to feelings of anxiety because of the unpredictability.
Foster Carers can help children and young people build feelings of safety and security during COVID-19 by creating a predictable daily routine. Start with consistent times for meals, getting up in the morning and going to sleep in the evening.
Before or after school, try to do planned, shared activities with your foster child like making breakfast, reading together or going to the park.
Focus on the good things
As much as it is important to acknowledge the worries young people may have; focusing on the things they are looking forward to should encourage them to feel more positive. They will likely be excited to see their friends and Teachers again, and might be looking forward to having more of a normal routine.
Before school starts, you can ask, “What are you looking forward to on your first day of school?” or “What have you missed about school?” Once school starts, you can ask: “What was the best thing that happened today?”
These questions will help to promote a positive outlook for young people when thinking about school; and should help them to reflect more openly about their day.
While this year’s back to school transition is a little different, you can help children feel optimistic by listening to and validating their worries, teaching them coping strategies, reviewing safety protocols and supporting them when they find things difficult. Ultimately, young people need us to lead the way for a successful back to school transition and to develop the lifelong skills they need for navigating challenges.