Back to School: Advice for Adoptive Parents

The back-to-school time is here with parents and children scrambling to get new clothes, prepare for class photos, buy school supplies and say so long to the hot summers and cool pool parties. Parents will find that it’s time to switch from the summer to the school routine. That means waking up early, packing lunches, and being sure to have a good breakfast before everyone leaves for the day. While there are many aspects for parents to consider as the school year starts, there is one especially important one for adoptive parents: family presentations and assignments.

Source: Flickr, Lucélia Ribeiro

School Assignments

If your son or daughter is a little bit older (elementary or junior high years), then it’s possible they may be asked to do a presentation during the year about their family history. Some teachers have students research the family name or draw up a genealogical tree. Other assignments may include telling a childhood story, talking about grandparents, or giving the story of “where they came from.” There are many possibilities, all of which are great learning moments for children. For children of adoptive parents, there is just a little bit more to consider and sometimes, if surprised with such an assignment, children can become stressed out or worried.

Talk to the Teacher

When you meet the teacher on the first day, consider asking to meet one-on-one over the phone to ask if any such assignments are scheduled for the year. This will give you, and your child, lots of time to prepare for the assignment. Knowing what they will say will help ease the anxiety and stress. Any teacher should be more than happy to coordinate giving due dates for such assignments and talking about the parameters. And most will gladly alter the assignment to make sure it’s inclusive of all students in their classroom.

Talk to your Child

Most importantly, have a discussion with your child about their personal story, family history, and more. As they grow up they will naturally have lots of questions. But even if they aren’t asking, go ahead and tell them stories and prepare them to talk about such things in school. Kids are naturally inquisitive, so there is a good chance one of their classmates may ask a question as innocent as “what’s your story?” But such a question can carry a lot more weight for the child of adoptive parents. So start the conversations now so your child can have the confidence to tackle such moments.