Back to School

back to school

Back to School season brings up a myriad of emotions for parents of kids who have been exposed to trauma. We worry about academic performance and learning challenges. We are unsure about advocating effectively, so they can thrive in school. We understand your concerns, and we bring you these high-quality, evidence-based resources to prepare you to get the academic year off to a great start. 

Back to School Podcasts

Back to School Articles

Do You Feel Like School Is Not Working For Your Child?

School is supposed to be a healthy, enriching environment for your kids. While they are students, they should learn how to learn, be challenged, grow, and have fun. However, for kids with learning differences or a history of trauma or prenatal substance exposure, sometimes school doesn’t feel like a safe space. What do you do when you think school is not working for your child?

5 Rules of Thumb for Your Family’s Digital Health

We are raising digital natives! Our school-aged kids have never experienced a time when handheld devices were a novelty. This information-saturated world of instant access and social media is their natural territory. However, parents and caregivers are still catching up to the crazy pace of change and cultural norms. It’s easy to fall back on rules about the “magic number” or “right age” for our kids’ online activity. However, many of us are starting to recognize the need to shift our mindset around our family’s digital health. How can we develop a more relational, connected approach to guide our kids to responsible, balanced digital health?

Practical Tips to Help Parents and Caregivers Navigate Special Education Services

Almost nothing reduces a confident parent to a puddle of uncertainty or anxiety faster than navigating your child’s special education services. It doesn’t matter if you are new to your child’s learning challenges or have been trekking to IEP meetings forever. When you are a parent or caregiver managing your child’s learning needs, and you are passionate about supporting that child so their abilities are maximized, it’s easy to feel like you are climbing backward up a steep mountain with no flashlight in the dark.

A Back to School Checklist for Your Adoptive, Foster, or Kinship Family

Quicker than you imagine, you will be fully immersed in back-to-school preparations with your adopted, foster, or kinship kids. We know! Mentioning the “s-c-h-o-o-l” word can make you cringe this early in the summer. But while your kids are waging water fights in the yard and roasting marshmallows for s’mores, you can consider what you must do to prepare them well for the academic year. We’ve got a back-to-school checklist to help you think through the issues your adopted, foster, or kinship kids might encounter this year.

How to Cultivate Resilience in Your Kids

Resilient children can handle the obstacles they encounter in life. For some of our kids, that resilience seems to come naturally. These kids roll with the punches, persevere through challenges, and come out the other side with minor wear or tear to show for it. However, many of our children who have been exposed to trauma, including prenatal substance exposure, struggle to manage their reactions to daily frustrations or disappointments.

Supporting a Child Who Struggles with Executive Function and Organizational Skills

Raising a child who struggles to stay organized – whether it’s their bedroom, the playroom, or backpack – can be challenging for parents. Do you feel like you are repeating yourself over and over? Does your tone sharpen with each reminder? Are you struggling to remain calm and regulated? Learning how to support a child who struggles with executive function and organizational skills takes education, practice, and willingness to learn new parenting skills.

5 Tips for Healthy Family Communication

Communication is one of the most impactful and long-lasting elements of a successful family. Unfortunately, many of our kids learned unhealthy communication before coming to our home. Building healthy communication while raising adoptive, foster or kinship children can therefore be extra challenging.

How Do You Manage Intrusive Questions about Your Adopted, Foster, or Kinship Child?

Are you a conspicuous family? Do you and your kids “match?” Do you show up at community events with a new kid in tow occasionally? Many adoptive, foster, and kinship families face the challenge of intrusive questions when they are obviously of different races or ethnicities from one another. Foster families commonly face intrusive questions when they get new placements joining their home. Though we live in the perspective that families form in many different ways, society around us often still asks nosy questions about who we are and how we built our family.

Easing the Transition to a New School Year for Adopted, Foster, & Kinship Kids

Adopted, foster and kinship kids often struggle with new experiences and relationships. Truthfully, transitions and change are scary to most folks, but our kids who have been exposed to trauma, abuse, or neglect have heightened sensitivities to change. The impacts of their trauma require predictability, connection, and routine to settle those fears and navigate life. How can we ease the transition to a new school year for our kids?

Help! My Child Hates School

There is almost nothing more challenging about parenting during the school-age years than a child who hates school. When the school is not a good fit for your child, it colors almost everything about daily life together. Navigating the school system with a child who has learning challenges, a history of exposure to trauma, or prenatal exposures can be overwhelming, defeating, and exhausting to the bone. When you have a child who hates school, you feel the weight of their future world is squarely on your shoulders. Your worries keep you up at night, and trust us when we say that you are not alone in your anxiety!

Too Much or Too Little? What to Share at School

It’s hard to think about sending the kids back to school while you are packing up for pool days or shaking sand out of everyone’s sandals. But the start of the school year is just around the proverbial corner. When selecting shiny new notebooks and packs of crayons, you might also consider choosing carefully what to share about your adopted, foster, or kinship child’s past at school.

Helping Your Adopted Child Handle Adoption Microaggressions

Your adopted children can feel confused, stressed, and othered when they encounter the stigmas they hear about adoption. How can you help your child handle the adoption microaggressions they face as they grow and develop their identity?

A Letter to My Adopted Child’s Teacher

Adopted parents may feel uncertain about the messages kids receive in school about their family, their unique story, or the child’s individual needs or experiences. If you are like many adoptive parents in our community, you might find it helpful to start the school year with a letter to your adopted child’s teacher.

Advocating for Your Foster or Kinship Child at School

If you don’t have experience with the jargon of educational supports, IEP’s and 504’s prior yet, advocating for your foster or kinship child in school can feel intimidating. It might sound like a whole new language at first. However, learning how to advocate for your foster or kinship child in school is an extension of the care you’ve been offering this child already.

When the School System Feels Like the Bully

ARGHH! Nothing in parenting has caused me such frustration as working with the school system to help my kid who struggled at school. I have felt so helpless and frustrated at times that it has brought me to tears. Of course, it’s no walk in the park for the kid with the challenges either, but make no mistake, parenting a child who struggles in school is hard, hard work.

It Is Time to Uproot the Old Family Tree Assignment!

Foster, kinship, and adoptive families have one more thing to add to their lists: get ahead of the school projects that strike fear into the hearts of “nontraditional” families everywhere – those dreaded family tree assignments! These school projects frequently get assigned during the elementary school years. They come in varied formats and often look so innocent on paper: fill the boxes with your family members. Easy, right?

Practical Tips for Parenting a Child with ADHD

Parenting a child with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) can be challenging. Your child’s behavior, lack of focus on tasks, and struggle to follow your family’s daily flow feel overwhelming and draining. What more can you implement in your home to ease the frustration and set your child up for success in his everyday life?

Common Symptoms of Prenatal Exposure and What Parents Can do About Them

Trauma-informed parenting interventions focus on helping your child overcome the early challenges they experienced. Similarly, interventions for a child with prenatal exposure can help you scaffold and nurture your child toward a thriving, healthy life.

Establishing Daily Routines for a Child with Prenatal Exposure

Parenting a child with prenatal exposure often requires additional scaffolding to help them learn the daily routines we take for granted. Establishing consistent daily routines for your child with prenatal exposure gives repetitive experiential learning that supports him as he acquires the skills to grow to adulthood.

Labeling Kids with Special Needs – How Much to Share

I have a love-hate relationship with labels. They can help our children get the help they need and can help us find the support of others in a similar situation, but they can also come with the baggage of stigma and preconceived ideas. I worry about the long-term impact of labeling kids.