Summer’s here… but Kindergarten’s near! Going off to kindergarten and starting a new school can be stressful for any child, but for your adopted child, there may be even more resistance and anxiety surrounding new experiences, change, and adjustment. While the change may be many months away, you should start talking about it now as it can take kids a long time to get excited about such a big transition!
According to studies cited in Raising Adopted Children [Quill, 2002], the pressures of transitioning to a new school might emphasize your child’s core adoption issues such as feelings of rejection and loss. As a result, he or she may feel some anger or mistrust towards you or the other important people in their lives, as well as question the permanency of your family. Sometimes adopted children are able to talk about these fears, but more often than not, they are unable to articulate what is really bothering them.
Although it is common for adoption issues to arise during school transitions, not all adopted kids experience anxiety or challenges in the same way. By being self-aware, sensitive, and helping to build confidence, you can ensure that your child has the solid foundation he or she needs to have a positive school experience! To help support your child, you can:
- Talk to him or her about expectations and reaffirm the concept of your family’s permanency despite new changes that may be occurring.
- Emphasize what is going to remain the same and help to establish consistent routines like taking the bus each day, having an afternoon snack, or doing homework together after dinner.
- Talk to your child about handling unwelcome questions about adoption or being different from their peers. If you are unsure how to help your child respond, join us for our How to Talk to Young Children about Adoption workshop. (LINK)
- Have Spence-Chapin connect with your child’s school to ensure their teaching environment accepts and values the way all families are created, especially those formed through adoption. Schools should be sensitive to all cultures and languages in the classroom, especially for children adopted internationally and transracially. If your child’s school could benefit from increased adoption sensitivity, we are happy assist! Our “Adoption in Schools” workshop is available to your school at no cost.
For more insight about this topic, tune in for our FREE upcoming webinar, “Off to Kindergarten” on Tuesday, August 12th, from 6:30p.m. – 7:30p.m.