Teachers play a huge role in the support of kids in foster care. We’ve been fortunate to have educators committed to advocating for our kids.
When our first kiddos arrived, the oldest was finishing up his kindergarten year. He is now in the 2nd grade. It feels unreal that time has gone this fast. As new parents, jumping into the public school system was another whirlwind for us. Most parents have years before sending their little ones off to their first days of school. We had just several days. Navigating the public school system and advocating for our kids has been a challenge at times. However, we’re incredibly thankful our kids have had teachers that care.
Considering the Whole Child
As we finished out the last couple months of that Kindergarden year, we were given all sorts of information about where our boy was academically. There were lots of concerns, and the recommendation from the school he had come from was to hold him back. We understood the concerns, but we were learning more about him every day. He was very bright and absolutely determined. This sweet 6 year old had moved schools TWICE in his Kindergarten year. OF COURSE he was behind.
We met with his teacher and principal. They gave us the absolute gift of deciding what we felt was best. They saw the concerns and test scores. However, they also saw him and all he had faced over the past year. Together, we committed to continuing the hard work he was putting in at home and seeing where he stood when he started the 1st grade in the fall.
Turns out, that kid just needed stability and intentional support because mid-way through his 1st grade year, it just clicked. All the extra hours, tutoring, IEP implementation and hard work fell into place and he read his first book. I’ll never forget that night, listening to him read “Little Bear” while he beamed with pride. That moment was made possible by the trust and support of the teachers and school administrators that saw his potential and
Navigating Triggers in the Classroom
It’s impossible for teachers to avoid every possible trigger for every child in their classroom. I recognize that. I have a deep appreciation for the ways that our kids’ teachers have gone out of their way to consider them. Sometimes, however, it just happens.
Recently, I received an email in the middle of the day from our 6 year old’s teacher. An assignment had been given to show what each child can do that they couldn’t when they were younger. Children think of something they did as a baby, and then something they can do now that they couldn’t before. A current photo of them accompanied what they can do now, while children were asked to bring in a baby picture to put with what they could do when they were younger.
Her teacher’s email informed us that the assignment really upset our daughter. She was very worried that she wouldn’t have a baby picture to complete the assignment. Her teacher felt very bad that the assignment had upset her. She also let me know she had provided other options to our daughter to make the project her own if she didn’t have a photo.
The Individual Child
While I think it was eye opening for all of us that the project triggered our girl so deeply, it also reassured me. I so deeply appreciated that email and heads up from the teacher. It gave me time to prepare and pull photos that I had. This way, as soon as our daughter got home I was able to talk to her about it and reassure her we had pictures she could use.
Overall, it prompted a great conversation and fun time looking at photos together. Our son had done this project the year before, but he’s very different. He had no concerns about the baby photos and completed the project with no triggers that we noticed. But each child is unique. He has had his own triggers we’ve dealt with. Overall, I’m thankful for our experience thus far with the way the schools have come around these kids. They have been true partners and advocates with us and the kids are blessed by their support.