Asked & Answered: Encouraging Extracurriculars

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

When entering foster or kinship care, children may lose interest in their hobbies. This can be especially true for children who have changed schools, or are worried about having to move again in the near future. We asked current foster, adoptive and kinship parents how they encourage their children to participate in extracurriculars. Here is some of their best advice:

“Find what they’re interested in and aim them towards that. Also, youth groups, culture clubs, and theater are great places to engage kids who don’t fit into some of the other boxes.”

“Kids move a lot and joining is hard. Make sure they and people running the program are good with absences because of visits or court or therapy. Ask kids how they want their story shared with people running things.”

“It’s hard to start something new if you’re afraid you won’t be around long enough to finish. Sometimes it’s easier to start with things that don’t require a long-term commitment – a drop in program at the library, a short-term activity through a community recreation program. Or maybe they would feel more comfortable joining something with a friend (might need to help promote friendships first).”

“Honestly, I’ve had to bribe my nephew to finish a sports team he started and then he continued on without an issue. The stress that comes with starting an extracurricular is often overwhelming because they have to worry about their lack of skills, lack of friends in the program and the stress of the program in general. Depending on what you want them to do I’d start with a camp this summer for them to learn basic skills of the sport or activity.”

“Getting a close friend or two to also sign up for the activity has been helpful, then advocating for them to be on the same team/group. Also, starting small, like with a free intro class or something. Going to observe an event ahead of time, asking them to try three times before deciding it’s not for them, have all been helpful approaches. Also reminding them of successes or positive experiences they have had in similar situations in the past. My advice would be to keep offering … low pressure. Hand them a pamphlet with class descriptions or something and ask which one they’d be most likely to do (not actually do, just theoretically), mention random activities you’ve heard of, see if there’s any sliver of interest, etc, until they maybe say yes.”

“I signed them up for anything they expressed interest in until something clicked. I do also require kids to be in something (like if they are in therapy at least weekly that counts but otherwise some activity). And there’s a max of activities, no more than 2-3 meetings/practices per week or only one activity if it meets more than that (like sports for older kids).”

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