Time flies when you’re having fun! Camps, vacations, and pool days are winding down, and reality is slowly sinking in; it’s already time to prepare for the school year. We know this is often a tough season for foster, adoptive, and guardianship families. That’s why we do everything we can to make this transition seamless. From school supplies for kids to helpful tips for parents, The Coalition continues to partner with our families to ensure every child is set up for success.
This past weekend, we celebrated another fantastic Back to School Bonanza event at HealthWorks! Kids Museum. The rooms were filled with excited, happy families. Over and over, we watched jaws drop and eyes widen when the kids entered the theater and saw the selection they had to choose from. “There’s so many good ones, I can’t even pick my top five!” one child exclaimed. “Can we come here next year?” asked another.
Thanks to the generosity of our community, approximately 350 children impacted by foster care received a free backpack stuffed with school supplies, as well as school uniforms and extra goodies.
Many parents commented about how excited they were to discover HealthWorks! Kids Museum, saying they wished they’d known about this gem of a museum years ago. (Did you know … Foster families get free admission to HealthWorks! Kids Museum year-round. It offers hours of enjoyment for youth 11 and under. Foster parents just need to show their foster child’s placement letter or their monthly stipend check stub/statement to the cashier.)
“Making sure that all of our kiddos will go back to school ready to learn and succeed was a group effort,” said Shelley Thomas-Benke, Director of Volunteers. “We are thankful to the many organizations, companies, and individuals that teamed with us to make this happen again this year.”
A HUGE thank you to….
Equifax Workforce Solutions
Girl Scout Troops 1411 and 9086*
Kirkwood Mom’s Club
Matter® Family Office
Mercy HR Talent Analytics & Data Solutions*
Union Avenue Christian Church
Vantage Credit Union*
Warehouse of Fixtures
Webster Groves Presbyterian Church
*donated more than $1,000, or more than 100 backpacks
Quick Tips from our Educational Advocacy Team
Their bags are packed and ready for the first day – now it’s time to help your kiddos mentally and emotionally prepare for a new school year. We asked our Educational Advocates to identify a few ways foster/adoptive parents can be proactive in building strong relationships with teachers and school administrators. Here is what they had to say …
- Get to know your child’s teacher. Reach out to them before school starts, if possible. Introduce yourself and let them know a little bit about your child. Start the relationship out on a positive note.
- Prepare your child for the first day of class. Let them know what the schedule might look like and what to expect. Explain that there is a designated time to eat lunch, there is a time to socialize with friends, etc. Remind your child that the teacher is there to keep them safe.
- Share certain approaches that work well with your child with teachers. For example: does your child have a comfort object that helps them stay calm? What helps calm your child down when they are emotionally or physically escalated? This can make all the difference in keeping a situation from escalating in the middle of a hectic school day.
- Establish your expectations for communication with your child’s teacher early on. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you and your child need. How often would you like communication (e.g. reports monthly, weekly, or daily). Specify whether you would prefer a phone call, email, or a note in the child’s backpack (keeping in mind that teachers may have time constraints for certain types of communication).
- Keep a folder or binder with all of your child’s school-related records (e.g. homework, tests, grades, attendance records, disciplinary records, Individualized Education Program (IEP), 504 Plan, letters from the school). If there are concerns, you may want to keep a written communication log of any verbal communication you have with the teacher, staff, or administration. This can help later if your child needs Special Education services.
- Be positive about your child … others will follow your lead! If there are behavioral or academic concerns, be open and honest but frame it in a more positive way. Make sure to let the school know your child’s strengths and the things you love most about them.