By Kathryn, Adopt4Life Regional Parent Liaison
As the back to school commercials start to roll around, it acts as a great reminder to us as parents about the need to get our kids, and perhaps more importantly, our schools ready for the transition back.
Despite buying all the needed school supplies, and perhaps the ‘perfect’ first day back outfit, ensuring that our children are returning to an adoption-positive environment will not only assist in their academic learning, but their overall well-being and personal development.
As some children are coming from a place of trauma and neglect, there are certain ways in which we can prepare our schools to help our children remain successful. Below are tips that I have found personally helpful in assisting our children in the transition back to school as well as educate teachers and staff on how to support our children.
1. Speak to the school about booking a visit prior to the start of school. If a child is attending for the first time, or may be exhibiting some anxieties about the school, this can be a great way to help answers some questions they may have. Most school staff are back to school the last week of August. Having the ability to see their classroom and learning their teacher’s names can make a big difference.
2. If you child is in a classroom that has a reading corner, suggest some adoption-positive books to be available. It is a tradition in our home that we donate a new (age appropriate) book to our kids classrooms so that other children may be able to learn more about every type of families, including adoptive ones. If not- perhaps seeking what adoption-positive books are in the library can help!
3. If you child has received a new diagnosis, if there have been strategies that have been working well, some that have not, make sure that you discuss them with your teachers as soon as possible. Requesting a meeting to discuss potential concerns as well as gains during the summer months can act as a great way to ensure consistency and lower anxieties (for all of us!)
4. Its important for educators to understand and use adoption-positive language in the classroom such as:
- Real Parent vs. Birth Parent
- Own Child vs Birth Child
- Real sibling vs Biological Sibling
- Giving a child up vs Making an adoption plan
- Was adopted vs is adopted
- Openly speaking about different types of families
5. Talk to your child’s teacher ahead of time regarding potential school assignments and traditions that may be a trigger including:
- Use of baby pictures
- Family Tree
- Genetics projects
- Mother’s Day/Father’s Day
- Adopt- a -projects (where a student “adopts” an item for the week to care for)
6. Engage in ongoing communication both ways. If there was a potential trigger at home over the weekend, we found it helpful to give our teachers a heads up for potential behaviours. Alternatively, if something hurtful was said on the playground, or a potential trigger happened at school, by giving parents a heads up, will better place us in a position to support our children. Although this isn’t always easy to do, we adapted a quickly by using a quick note in their bags, or even the use of a thumbs up or down discreetly.
Although these are only a few ways in which you can support in setting your child up for success, the need for advocacy remains important throughout the entire school year. We have found from personal experience that despite how prepared we think we are, life always seems to throw us a curve ball!
Here is to a successful start of the year!