Back to school time is almost here! Does that sentence make you think, “Wait a minute … it’s only early August!” or “That seems about right.” What emotions do you think that statement brings to the children in your home? Some may be excited about heading into a new grade level, shiny new school supplies, and seeing their friends again. For other children, the thought of leaving their home, a place where they truly belong, may bring stress or anxiety.

Children who have experiences in foster care, adoption, or who live with relative caregivers often have a hard time building trust and feeling safe at school. Belonging is a feeling of acceptance, respect, and support in an environment. Students who feel like they belong at school are typically more energized during the day, more likely to spend time on task, and want to be there. What clues suggest your child may not feel a sense of belonging at school? Perhaps they don’t try their best on their schoolwork, don’t ask for help, or barely get anything done. They may have frequent visits to the nurse’s office. Truancy may become an issue because they just don’t want to go to school.

What can you do to support the kids in your care? A first step could be watching our Erasing the Belonging Gap in Schools recorded webinar. Presenter Gaelin Elmore knows from his personal experience of more than ten years in the foster care system that feeling accepted and valued at school is essential to success, and he’ll show you how to work toward that. Contact the Coalition for more ideas on how to make back-to-school a positive experience for all.

Recommended Resources

From the Lending Library

  • Fostering Across Wisconsin Newsletter: School Tools
  • Oh No, School!, by Hae-Kyung Chang
  • Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom, by Kristin Souers & Pete Hall

Training & Resources From Champion Classrooms