It is almost time to begin thinking about school again. The shelves of the local stores are filling up with crayons, paper and pencils. The parental itch to have the routine of the fall and winter months is starting to move. I see the look in people’s eyes when they are shopping. The suiting up is about to start. I have to be honest, I love school. I love to read. My favorite thing to do is shop for dictionaries. So imagine how difficult it was for me when my foster children came and didn’t have the same love that I possessed. In fact, many of them hated school and all that it involved. I have found that many children struggle in school simply because they were not taught how to read properly. If a child cannot read- they simply cannot learn. Most of today’s education is wrapped around reading and writing.
The question that begs to be answered is what is a foster parent’s role in teaching a child? Some of you might be shocked that it is even a question. “Of course you must teach the child,” you are murmuring to yourself.
I agree- to a point. I know a mother who is so focused on helping her foster child learn that the rest of her family is suffering. That is not good. Her children resent the time and focus. The foster child is taking almost 2 hours a night in homework time.
How does a parent juggle that? I think that while it is vitally important that all children read, time and space can be what is required. Not all children learn to read at the same age- its simply not possible. So all of the pushing and brow beating for reading can actually have a harmful effect on the child. They can develop greater self-worth problems (it is common for foster children to struggle in this area anyway.)
I think that the foster parent’s job revolves around helping the child succeed right where they are. Does that mean you don’t deal with reading? Of course not. It just means that maybe you read only on Tuesdays and Thursdays in order to free up time for the other children’s (or your spouse’s needs.) There are many ways that a foster child can bring stress into a home. Managing that stress by proper planning is a must. Consider hiring a tutor to free up your time or enlist the help of the school system. Many are offering Saturday school options and after school programs.
Fostering is meant to be a positive experience. Take the time to ensure that it is for your family by covering your bases now.