10 Back to School Tips for Adoptive Parents

Green apple on stack of red books.

  1. Help your child feel prepared: Discuss issues that may arise or questions they may receive from classmates and how to respond. Tour the school so they feel comfortable in a new environment. Have your child meet their teachers/ principal. Talk about the rules and expectations of your child’s school.
  2. Lunchtime: Bring your child to the grocery store to pick out foods that they like. If they buy their lunch, make sure lunch money is in a safe place.
  3. Transportation: Make sure your child knows their bus number. Discuss bus rules and talk with your child about only leaving school with a parent or designated adults. Have a safety plan in place.
  4. Iron out a schedule: Establish your routine before school starts. Consider using a large family calendar to keep track of everyone’s schedules.
  5. Resources: Talk to your child’s teachers about special needs accommodations, ESL, IEP, and/or tutoring programs. Join an adoptive parent support group or attend parent workshops (link to http://www.modernfamilycenter.org/adoption-support/).
  6. Social skills: Help your child practice appropriate social responses, conversations, and understanding appropriate physical boundaries. Set up short, structured play dates. Reach out to classmates before school starts.
  7. Social issues: Listen actively to your child and encourage positive attitudes. If bullying at school is involved, insist that it be appropriately addressed by the school.
  8. Open the adoption dialogue: If you want it known that your child is adopted, inform new teachers and provide them with any information about adoption you feel they should know. Bring a book to share about adoption with the class. Talk to your child about questions they might be asked and how they can answer them.
  9. Talk about educational goals: Empower your child to be a part of their own educational process. Support your child through highs, lows, and plateaus in learning. Be realistic with your expectations of both your child and their teacher.
  10. Don’t forget to breathe! Practice taking deep breaths with your child so that they know how to help themselves calm down if they get stressed.

Falling into New Routines

For many of us, fall is a time for new beginnings. New school schedules and childcare routines are set in motion and our kids are pulled into a whirlwind of school activities, sports, clubs, and classes. Often, it’s not just the kids who are getting geared up for something new — many adults cycle with the academic calendar and look to fall as the time to begin new projects or academic pursuits and to set new goals. During those last sleepy days of summer we are in high gear coordinating and planning for an exciting fall.2919351865_ff71c95b_001

 

 

 

 

 

Scheduling is important because it provides routine and predictability. Most of us need schedules to help manage our time and know what’s coming next. Kids, and especially kids who have been adopted at an older age, tend to do well with regular, clear, and predictable schedules. Changes in routine happen, when they do, remember to give your kids extra reassurance and appropriate information about why change is happening and how you’ll work through it together.

Changes in caregivers, mealtimes, and sleep schedules, and challenges at school and with peers can often create stress for our kids (and sometimes for us parents too). There is a lot of build up in the beginning of the school year and for some this increase in expectations and pressure can be a little scary. Your child may seem more anxious and fearful than usual. Pay extra attention to how your children manages these transitions.

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Here are a few tips for managing stressful times of transition:

  • Put things in writing for you and your kids. Keep a family calendar that keeps track of everyone’s schedule and highlight special events in a way that everyone can understand.
  • It sounds obvious, but making sure that everyone is well fed and hydrated can really help to steady moods and prevent meltdowns — this goes for both kids and parents. This is especially important if kids have after school sports or activities. Pack a healthy late afternoon snack, or have snacks ready as soon as they get home.
  • Family meals are critical, but sometimes it’s just not possible for the entire family to sit down together. When this is the case, try to sit with your kids for dessert, a cup of tea, or a late night snack to have the experience of sharing a “meal” together (and put away those cell phones!).

Remember that each person has a very different sense of how much activity is comfortable  and how to transition from one event to the next. For instance, some kids love to be continuously busy, transition from school to sports to homework without any down time and can snack on-the-go. Others may need a break between activities and do better with encouragement during transitions.

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As parents, it is important to tune in to our kids and learn how best to support them during these especially busy seasons. If your family needs extra support, the Modern Family Center at Spence-Chapin offers parent coaching, counseling, and workshops. Give us a call at 646-539-2167, email info@modernfamilycenter.org, or follow us on Facebook to learn more about how we can help.