Foster Care

Foster Care Education: 8 Tips to Support Your Child

What’s the best way to help children in foster care succeed in school? Our 8 tips can help you give your child the best possible chance at success.

Foster care provides much needed support to children and teens across a wide variety of backgrounds. If you’re a foster parent or interested in becoming one, there can be a lot to learn!

Mentor Foster Care, a part of Sevita’s companies, provides foster care services to those in need. In turn, we receive many questions about what it means to be a foster parent and what foster parents need to know.

Some questions we’ve seen asked multiple times are:

  • How does being in foster care affect a child’s education?
  • What can I do as a foster parent to help my foster child adjust?

To help newer foster parents and those looking to become foster parents in the future, we’ve provided 8 foster care education tips to support kids in care with their education.

Foster Care & Education: Working Together

Qualified foster parents create a safe and nurturing space for children in care to grow and thrive in every aspect of their lives.

However, foster parents can’t teach their children everything. The school system gives children in care a stable environment to learn new skills, socialize, and find routine.

In that sense, helping kids in care adapt to the school system is a part of every successful care plan. This means you will likely be working closely with teachers and other staff as a foster parent.

Does Being in Foster Care Affect a Child’s Education?

Children in care have often gone through trauma in their lives. Although foster care helps them find stability and a loving environment, the past can impact their learning journey. In California, WestEd found that:

  • Only about 66% of kids in care got to attend the same school for the full school year
  • Children in care as a group showed an achievement gap similar to first-time English learners and to students that have a learning disability
  • The graduation rate for seniors statewide was 84%, but for students in care at the same education level, it was only 58%

These statistics may be negative, but foster parents can make a difference. By using the tips below, you can support your child in care and help them get the best possible chance at a great education and future. 

Foster Care & Education: Tips For Foster Parents

As a foster parent, kids in care will be leaning on you to help them overcome challenges and get a better education. Here are 8 tips to help you provide the best possible support.

1. Meet Your Child’s Teachers

Meeting your child's teachers is an important step. This initial meeting helps form a strong partnership, which can go a long way toward creating a better educational environment for a child in care.

  • This first meeting is also a chance to share details (when appropriate) about your child's history, strengths, challenges, and any specific needs they may have.
  • By sharing this information, teachers can better understand your child's behavior and academic progress, allowing them to choose the right teaching methods.

Teachers are one of the most important parts of the school journey for any child — start off on the right foot by forming connections early.

2. Help Them Make Friends

Children in care can often feel lonely or isolated. For some, past trauma may make it harder to make new friends.

  • You’ll want to lead by example — a child in care will learn positive social behaviors, such as empathy and communication skills, from watching you as a parent.
  • If you’re not sure how to get started, meeting other parents at school-sponsored events is a great start.
  • Taking this step allows you to arrange playdates or meet ups between your child and their peers. 

Overall, it can be tough for children in care to make new friends, but when they do, it’s rewarding for them and for you as a foster parent.

3. Establish a Routine

Routines provide stability and predictability in a foster child’s life, and the best time to start is first thing in the morning — or even the night before!

Morning routines don’t have to be complicated, either. For a younger child, it might look something like this:

  1. Wake up at the same time every morning
  2. Work on making the bed together or picking out clothes
  3. Make sure they brush their teeth before breakfast
  4. Make and eat breakfast together
  5. Work together to gather up backpacks and shoes
  6. Leave for school at the same time every day

Even something as simple as a morning routine can help a child in care get a fresh and positive start on the day. In turn, this can help them with their schooling by accomplishing something first thing in the morning that they can feel good about.

4. Stay In Contact With Teachers

It’s one thing to meet your child’s teachers. However, you’ll want to also remain in touch with them throughout the year. 

  • Checking up on your child’s progress is an important part of being a foster parent.
  • Kids in care rely on you to help with their schooling, and you won’t be able to help them if you don’t know how they’re doing.
  • This is an opportunity for you as a foster parent to show you’re invested in their success.

Staying in contact with your child’s teacher also allows you to provide information about what’s going on at home, too. If a child in care is going through challenges at home, it’s important for teachers to know so that they can adjust accordingly at school.

5. Read With Them When Possible

Reading with your child provides many benefits in general, including:

  • Improving language skills
  • Forming a stronger bond
  • Increasing discipline
  • Sparking the imagination

However, one of the most important benefits of reading is better academic performance. Students who choose to read as an activity they enjoy performed better in several subjects, such as math, English, and science.

What better way to help them develop a love of reading than to read with them? This creates an environment where reading can be a fun opportunity to spend time together.

6. Help With Their Homework

For some children in care, homework can be a challenge. 

As a foster parent, it’s crucial to provide help and support when it’s needed — especially with their homework. That’s where you’ll have another chance to bond and help them learn new skills when they’re struggling.

The only caution is to not help too much. Homework helps schools and teachers assess where your child’s strengths and struggles are. It’s perfectly okay to help your child succeed and learn what they need, but you can’t do it for them.

7. Ensure Regular Attendance

The importance of school attendance is well-documented — missing too many days can severely impact your child’s performance in school.

  • It’s up to you to ensure that your child attends school every day.
  • A regular morning routine is one of the best ways to stay on track with school attendance.
  • That level of stability will have your child ready for school every morning as they adjust to the routine.

It’s okay to miss days for sickness or other important reasons, but your child should attend school regularly and avoid skipping out on valuable learning time.

8. Encourage Extra-Curricular Activities

When it comes to meeting new friends, improving social skills, and doing better in a school environment, extra-curricular activities are crucial.

These activities can include sports, music, drama, arts, or any other hobby your child enjoys!

Learn More About Foster Parenting in Our Upcoming Webinar 

Looking for more information on foster parenting?

If so, our upcoming webinar can help point you in the right direction.

By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar and learning more about the fostering process, you can take the first step toward becoming a foster parent and providing a safe, loving, and supportive home for a child in need. 

Sign up for our webinar today!

Sign Up For The Webinar

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