Hugs and encouragement to all foster and adoptive parents who are trying to do two full-time jobs this fall, work and school their children! Please be kind to yourself and reach out to your resources to continue to get the support that you need.
Know that you are not alone and the Lord is your source of strength. He deeply cares for you and your child. Do whatever you can to stay connected to the vine, even if it is just accessing brief moments with Him. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
I have created a series of blog posts titled “Bringing Sanity Home”. It is directed towards those who are schooling their foster and adoptive children at home and trying to work from home. The ideas and tips will be useful for any foster or adoptive parent.
In Part 1, we are going to envision the best case scenario, look at our expectations, and think through regulation. In Part 2, we will review nurture and structure in parenting to know how to best respond to our child. In Part 3, we will look at practical tips to help parents who are schooling their children and working at home. I’ve also included a real Mom Life quote in every blog!
Envision the Best Case Scenario
Close your eyes for a few minutes and envision the best-case scenario. What does it look like for your child? Does it look like a neatly dressed child sitting attentively at their desk in another room quietly doing their school work?
What does it look like for you? Does it look like you getting to the end of the day, checking off everything on your to-do list, and reflecting on how many things you accomplished for the day?
If so, you might need to adjust your expectations. Having realistic expectations is very important as we try to do two tasks that probably both require your full attention.
If you tell yourself that this is a season that will one day end, that will help. In addition, planning for the interruptions, problems, and challenges and setting a few small goals each day will do wonders for helping everyone’s well-being.
Action Step: Right now take just a minute to set 1-3 small goals for you for the next few days. Can you envision that and think about a way you can reward yourself for achieving those small goals? An example may be that you have the goal of taking a deep breath and saying a silent prayer when your child unexpectedly interrupts you. To reward yourself, you tell yourself at the moment what a great job you have done and then you pour yourself a cup of your favorite coffee or tea.
Mom Life: One adoptive mom on Facebook posted these expectations for their first week of non-traditional instruction. I thought they were great!!
- everyone will be a bit edgy, anxious, and nervous
- sleeping habits will be disrupted
- eating habits will be disrupted
- the checklist will not get done, so don’t make it
- everyone will survive and eat pizza or Chick-Fil-A at least once
Think through the lens of regulation
Next, let’s turn our attention to regulation. Self-regulation is defined as the ability to appropriately respond to the environment. It is evaluating what we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell against what we already know or have experienced. This information is translated into our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and sometimes this happens outside of our conscious awareness.
Self-regulation is a skill that develops over time and takes place in conjunction with the parent through a process called co-regulation. First, the child sees the parent model healthy interaction with their environment, tolerate and manage new experiences like transitions, and deal with uncomfortable sensations like hunger or thirst. As the child grows, the parent pays close attention to the cues the child is sending and responds with warmth, care, and appropriate levels of support when the child is upset. Because of the modeling and assisting, the child eventually learns they can tolerate new experiences and difficulties and express themselves appropriately.
Sitting in a chair, doing schoolwork, and engaging with a teacher and other students through a screen takes an enormous amount of energy, focus, and ability to process and manage information. According to occupational therapist and sensory movement specialist, Tracy Murray, typically developing young children will probably be able to sit for 30 minutes before they need a get up and move break. Foster and adoptive children may need more breaks. Tracy sent me a list of 75 short, sensory movement break ideas. You can find it on my blog – https://empoweredcalling.com/75-get-up-and-move-activities/.
For children who may have had a rough start in life, often beginning in the womb, schoolwork can be difficult. Attention deficits and sensory and processing issues may make sitting still, reading, writing, and doing math hard for the child. Adoptive and foster children may need more parental support for schooling and help with regulation.
The fears of abandonment, rejection, or failure can arise if the child is isolated in a room by themselves, engages with other children, or has a difficult time completing an assignment. A child who is experiencing a lot of stress will not be able to engage the thinking part of the brain. The emotional part of the brain takes over and strong emotions and difficult behaviors emerge that often need the assistance of the parent to help regulate.
It is vital that parents understand their child’s struggles with school and look at the deeper reasons behind misbehavior. Parents can pray and work with the child and teacher to come up with solutions that will help the child be successful.
Action Step: Take a minute to jot down some of the challenges your child has with schoolwork or home-based learning. What is your natural thought as to why they have some of their challenges? Can you view some of these challenges through the lens of regulation? What steps do you need to proactively take to help your child with situations that will cause them to get upset?
For Part 1 of this series, click here: https://empoweredcalling.com/bringing-sanity-home-part-1/.
For Part 2 of this series, click here: https://empoweredcalling.com/bringing-sanity-home-part-2/.
For Part 3, click here: https://empoweredcalling.com/bringing-sanity-home-part-3-2/.
Renee is a life coach who specializes in working with foster and adoptive families. She is based in Louisville, Kentucky but works with clients all over the world through internet coaching. You can book a free 30-minute consultation with her here: https://square.site/book/60VP09PS4Z3JB/empowered-calling-llc or find out more information about her services at https://empoweredcalling.com/.