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November 19th

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Foster Friday: Establishing Routines for a New School Year

The start of the school year can be overwhelming, especially for a child in foster care who’s adjusting to a new environment. As a foster parent, it’s important that you establish routines that allow the child in your care to feel happy, confident and supported as they navigate through these changes. From starting the morning with a healthy breakfast to ending the night with a bedtime story, each moment throughout the school day has an impact on your child’s emotions. To ensure that the school year is one that creates lasting memories for the child in your care, we recommend establishing these four routines in your household:

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Introduce yourself to your child’s teachers and the school administration

Whether you have several children in the same school, or the child in your care is your first in the district – it’s a good idea to introduce yourself to your child’s teachers and the school administration. Most schools will host a “meet the teacher” night before school begins. This is a great opportunity for both you and your child to meet school staff. When you introduce yourself to your child’s teachers, explain that the child in your care is in the foster system. Share contact information and create an open channel of communication so that both you and school staff feel comfortable contacting the other should a situation (positive or negative) arise. Not only will this make you feel more comfortable, but it will also allow your child to get acclimated to the adults that will inevitably make a lasting impact while they’re in your care.

 

Enroll your child in after school activities

During the school day, your child is engaged in learning. Aside from lunch and recess, there usually isn’t a lot of time for socialization. Your child will inevitably have pent up energy to release at the end of a school day. Take time to get to know the child in your care and enroll them in an after-school activity that aligns with their interests. Dance classes, gymnastics and youth sports leagues are all great ways to burn energy. Art classes, piano lessons or computer coding classes are good for getting creative juices flowing. There are after school activities to fit every family’s budget – you can pay one time or monthly fees for reoccurring classes or sports leagues or find free after school activities in your neighborhood. Talk to parents at your child’s school or in your area to find fun, safe and affordable options.

 

Set aside 10-15 minutes each night to review your child’s homework and answer questions

School can be difficult and overwhelming, especially for a child who is getting used to a new environment and new routine after their world has been shaken up. Set aside time each night to sit down and help your child with their homework. Answer questions, go over notes from class, sign any papers that need to be returned and talk about upcoming tests or projects that require at-home prep. By doing this, you’re creating a meaningful bond that will help the child in your care feel confident when coming to you with problems or questions. It also allows you to feel more prepared and knowledgeable about what’s going on in your child’s school life.

 

Establish a weekly emotional check-in

Most likely, the child in your care has gone through a lot of emotional challenges. Being placed in the foster care system is a lot to process for a child. Adding in a new school, new routine, new friends and new adults to look to for protection and guidance can often be a lot to handle. Sit down weekly with your child to check in on how they’re doing emotionally. It’s important to communicate in a way that is age-appropriate and that works best for them. These check-ins may take time to become fully effective. For the first few weeks, take time to build trust. From there, conversations can become deeper. Throughout each check-in, reassure your child that you see them, you hear them and you’re there to love and care for them.

 

Grade school years are some of the most formative in a child’s life. By creating and implementing these routines, you’re letting the child in your care know that the past hardships and traumas they’ve experienced don’t have to be the norm. Healthy habits, especially those that involve learning, can make a lasting impact on the child in your care. Have you implemented any of these routines? Let us know in the comments below.

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To learn more about how you can become a foster parent, visit Upbring.org/FosterInfo.

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18 Books To Read With Your Child As Summer Comes To An End

As summer begins to fade and the school year quickly approaches, now is the time to begin refreshing the skills your child learned in the classroom last year. Chances are, the summers days were filled with picnics, trips to the water park, cookouts and memories to last a lifetime, but as fewer days stand between now and the first day of school, it’s important to exercise the brain and get your child back into “school mode” little by little. An engaging and creative way to prepare your little one for another year of learning is to simply read! Reading a book allows your child to go on an adventure, explore new lands, learn about new people and create worlds beyond anything he or she could imagine. You can keep your child engaged and make reading even more fun by using voices, acting out the scenes or watching a movie based on the book you’ve just read. There are millions of books out there for your child to discover, but to make it a bit easier we’ve created this list of recommendations, separated by age group, that we think you should add to their reading list:

(BONUS: Books in bold italics are recommendations for children in foster care from our Foster In Texas team.)

 

Infant/Preschool

  • Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison
    • Beautiful illustrations in Vashti Harrison’s book showcase women of color who changed the world and accomplished extraordinary things
  • Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
    • This comedic picture book features a grumpy little bird who learns to how to giggle his grumpies away
  • Giraffe Problems by Jory John
    • Edward the giraffe discovers how to accept and celebrate one of the physical features he previously tried so hard to hide, his extremely long neck
  • I Need A Hug by Aaron Blabey
    • This sweet story about a tiny porcupine who is looking for a cuddle is sure to warm your heart
  • All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
    • Alexandra Penfold’s story follows a diverse group of children during an average school day who, although they are very different from one another, are welcomed with open arms
  • FOSTER RECOMMENDATION: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
    • The Kissing Hand tells the story of a young raccoon who is hesitant to leave his mother as he attends his first day of school. His mother shares a family secret that helps the raccoon feel loved even when they’re apart

 

Elementary School

  • The Sun Is Kind of a Big Deal by Nick Seluk
    • Nick Seluk’s comic-style artwork demonstrates all the amazing things that the sun does for our solar system
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
    • Originally published in 1970, this classic story features best friends Frog and Toad who learn vital lessons about friendship
  • Stuart Little by E.B. White
    • This imaginative classic follows Stuart, a little mouse on a big quest to find a lost friend. The story would be an excellent choice for readers somewhere between chapter books and full-length novels
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
    • In this collection of hilarious poems, Shel Silverstein provides a charming introduction to poetry with detailed drawings that will captivate your child
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
    • If your young reader is looking for a fantasy series, this would be a great choice as it is the first of seven novels in Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia collection
  • FOSTER RECOMMENDATION: Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
    • Love You Forever is a beloved children’s book that shares the story of a mother’s love for her child as he grows each and every day

 

Middle School

  • Holes by Louis Sachar
    • Stanley is sent to Camp Green Lake to serve his juvenile detention sentence after he is mistakenly accused of stealing. He soon finds that his job of digging holes each day may not actually be for “building character”
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
    • This story of resilience features Karana, who learns to survive on her own when she is left on a deserted island off the coast of California for eighteen years
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio
    • Auggie, about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, has never attended a mainstream school before due to a facial deformity. In addition to the hardships that come with being “the new kid,” Auggie must also learn how to make friends and show others that even though he looks a little different, he is just like them
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
    • Leo, the main character in this novel, struggles with peer pressure and must decide whether he will shun Stargirl like the rest of the students at his high school
  • Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
    • Naima, a Bangladeshi girl whose family has fallen on hard times, challenges the traditional role of women in her village and uses her artistic talents to help provide for her family
  • FOSTER RECOMMENDATION: Far from the Tree by Robin Benway
    • Far from the Tree tells the heartwarming story of three siblings separated within the foster care system and their journey to discovering the true meaning of family

 

By crossing a few of these books off your child’s list, he or she will surely be ready to dive back into learning and all the excitement the new school year will bring. Reading is a great way to spend time together, encourage learning all year long and have fun. Providing opportunities for your child to learn and grow will build a firm foundation of success for years to come. What are some of your favorite books to read with your child? Let us know below in the comments!

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5 Tips for a Smooth Start to the School Year

As a child, I wasn’t thrilled when the end of summer vacation ushered in earlier bedtimes, earlier wake-up times and, of course, homework. I also remember experiencing anxiety over who my teachers would be and whether I would know anyone in my classes.

But a new school year also meant the chance to catch up with friends and do one of my favorite things: shopping for school supplies, which I enjoyed doing with my own children when they were in school. Your child might have the same mixed feelings about the start of the school year.

 

Here are five simple tips to help your child easily transition back to school.

 

1. Get excited!

You are your child’s most important teacher. If you’re not excited about school, they probably won’t be either. Share fun memories from your teachers and classmates. Talk about one of your family’s back-to-school traditions. Maybe you can share this tradition or start a new one.

 

2. Ease their nerves.

It is completely normal for your child to have jumbled-up emotions about going back to school. You can ease their nerves by arranging a visit to the school. Show them their new classroom and let them meet their teacher.

 

3. Go shopping together.

Allow your child to choose some school supplies on their own. A Disney backpack or a superhero lunch box can go a long way toward making them feel comfortable and confident.

 

4. Establish a routine.

Inclement weather. Traffic jams. Faulty alarm clocks. A solid routine is your best defense against the stress that comes with running behind. Figure out what time everyone needs to get up, eat breakfast, brush their teeth and get dressed. Identify the most efficient route to school, and consider alternate routes in case you need them.

 

5. Make the first morning memorable.

If you’ve followed the first four tips, you can rest easy knowing your child is prepared to start the school year. All that’s left now is to make that first morning memorable. Have breakfast together. Chat. Smile. Pray together about the year, for the friends they’ll make and for their teachers. Speak encouragement over your child, reminding them that they are brave, kind and loved. If this is your child’s first year in school, it’s okay to cry. Just save the tears until you get back in your car!

 

About the Author

Brenda Burdick has 33 years’ education experience. She spent 15 years molding young minds as a teacher for grades one through eight and as a lead English teacher in middle school. She also brings 22 years’ administrative experience as an assistant principal, principal, director of curriculum and director of admissions. Today, Brenda serves as Director of Christian School Expansion and Ops at Upbring. She and her teams at Upbring School of Arts and Sciences Central Austin and Upbring School of Discovery and Leadership are excited to welcome students back to school!

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5 Tips For A Smooth Start To The School Year

As a child, I wasn’t thrilled when the end of summer vacation ushered in earlier bedtimes, earlier wake-up times and, of course, homework.

I also remember experiencing a bit of anxiety over who my teachers would be and whether I would know anyone in my classes.

But a new school year also meant the chance to catch up with friends and do one of my favorite things: buy new school supplies, which I enjoyed doing with my own children when they were in school.

Your child might have the same mixed feelings about the start of the school year. You can help ease their transition by following these five simple tips.

  1. Get excited! You are your child’s most important teacher. If you’re not excited about school, they probably won’t be either. Share fun memories from your teachers and classmates. Talk about a ritual your family had. Perhaps you can share this tradition or start a new one.
  2. Ease their nerves. It is completely normal for your child to have jumbled-up emotions about going back to school. You can ease their nerves by arranging a visit to the school. Show them their new classroom, and let them meet their teacher. Allow the two of them to chat for 15 minutes and get to know each other, with limited participation from you.
  3. Go shopping together. Allow your child to choose some school supplies on their own. A Disney backpack or a superhero lunch box can go a long way toward making them feel comfortable and confident.
  4. Establish a routine. Inclement weather. Traffic jams. A solid routine is your best defense against the headaches that come with running behind. Figure out what time everyone needs to get up, eat breakfast, brush their teeth and get dressed. Identify the most efficient route to school, and consider alternate routes in case you need them.
  5. Make the first morning memorable. If you’ve followed the first four tips, you can rest easy knowing your child is prepared to start the school year. All that’s left now is to make that first morning memorable. Have breakfast together. Chat. Smile. And if this is your child’s first year in school, it’s okay to cry. Just save the tears until you get back in your car!

About The Author

brenda burdickBrenda Burdick has 33 years’ education experience. She spent 15 years molding young minds as a teacher for grades one through eight and as a lead English teacher in middle school. She also brings 22 years’ administrative experience as an assistant principal, principal, director of curriculum and director of admissions. Brenda joined Upbring this summer as director of Christian school expansion and ops. She is excited to welcome students to our first Christian school, Upbring School of Arts and Sciences Central Austin, for the fall 2017 semester.