For many children within the foster care system, navigating their own free time may have once been the norm. As they enter a new home, they not only are now facing new places and new people but new concepts and standards such as structure. In many cases, a lack of structure can be detrimental to growth and lead to less constructive or even damaging activities and behaviors. The following are activities that can aid in building a sense of structure and commitment for your child as they navigate their new living situation.
Homework Time is Helpful Time
School work can present a challenge for any child, but for children in the foster care system, this can ring especially true. Between court dates, stress, and everyday life, homework can be hard to focus on and complete. Unfortunately, sometimes all the chaos of a changing lifestyle can result in falling behind in school. Take homework time as an opportunity to fight this stigma and be the solution to this problem.
Sitting with your foster child while they do their homework can have a huge impact on your relationship and their future. By filling their time with the importance of work you are providing structure, priority, and guidance. This is also an opportunity to find out where they might be struggling academically and ensure that they are in fact performing at their grade level. Maintaining a structured homework time allows a resource family to better align their child’s academic needs with the resources that are available to them.
Turning excess energy into something constructive is a huge tool for providing structure in the day to day lives of children. By encouraging expression through art, or sports, you are able to provide a community and skill set for them to build upon throughout their lives. It is no easy task finding out what their interests will be, but once that interest is found, having a structured activity can promote self-confidence and self-worth in your child.
The Little Things
At the end of the day, the little things add up. A bedtime routine, a set dinner time, or even just the presence of someone that continuously greets or listens to them is the key to providing structure.
Take a walk with your children and show them your favorite parts of the nature around them, show them your favorite records, or feel encouraged to engage in some of their favorites. Whether it is sitting down and watching their favorite shows with them or asking about their favorite meals and memories, showing interest in their world while letting them into yours will help to form a healthy relationship.
After all, the little things, the moments spent together and the memories made grow together to make something bigger. Let the little things create structure and help to create a strong foundation for your new family.
Free time is great and should be allowed daily for purposes of creativity and relaxation. However, there is a sense of consistency that structure brings forward, allowing for a child to feel grounded and connected to their resource family.