Asked & Answered: Academics

All responses taken from our Facebook groups: Foster Parenting Toolbox and Kinship Parenting Group.

Many children will struggle academically at some point during the school year. It can be difficult for parents to know how best to help their children overcome these hurdles. We asked current foster, kinship and adoptive parents for their advice. Here’s what they had to say:

“We were at a 3rd grade level entering 5th. We had a routine every night. It included homework, then 15 minutes of learning math skills in fun ways. We did not time it; I made it into a game. Then we actually played a game of her choice before the bedtime routine started. She is now on level and does her own thing and still stays on her schedule. She actually hates it if we are out past 8. I have yet to receive end of year testing but she held above 80’s in all honors classes.”

“My nephew hadn’t been in school for 3 years before I got him. I alerted the school as soon as I got him. Because of CYF involvement it took a bit longer to register him. Luckily for me he is in the same grade as my youngest so I knew the staff well. I just advocated for him. Asked them to re-evaluate him for his IEP and kept a close eye on grades and contacted his teachers and learning support teacher as needed. Just keep advocating for them.” 

“Invest in a tutor. Encourage and celebrate every little achievement more than mention setbacks. This will help give motivation to continue achievements and prevent losing confidence.”

“I would start by testing for dyslexia, OT, speech, hearing and vision. Depending on the child’s history, I would maybe do therapy. If all of that is good, I would then ask for academic testing for any specific learning disability and depending on those results ask for a 504 or IEP to give the student accommodations or modifications within the classroom. Depending on what the child is struggling with, I would work with them nightly on that subject with the help of things from the teacher on what they are working on.”

“It really depends on the root of the problem. How long has the child been in your home? How many other foster homes and schools have they been in? What’s their mental health like and are they receiving trauma-informed psychiatric care (therapy, etc.)?

Children need to feel safety and to feel safe and secure in their place in the foster home before they have the ability to try and deal with other issues.

School disruptions/switching schools frequently, learning disabilities, trauma, can all cause academic issues. But you have to triage and focus on the child feeling safe and secure and connected to caregivers before you can address anything else. You can pursue educational testing to see if they need support in specific areas, and advocate for accommodations in a 504 or IEP if necessary, but academic interventions won’t help until the child feels safe/secure/connected.”

“Khan Academy has great lessons to help find missing skills, especially for math. Summer is a great time to start a new (free) account and work from the beginning to hone in on lost skills or get more practice in struggling areas.”

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