Being a foster parent can be an immense challenge, but it can also be a lot of fun for both caregiver and child. Foster care is the short-term care of a child by a private individual or family. Newly adopted foster kids can be slow to adjust to their new home, but fun activities help ease the transition.
Sports encourages exercise and provides a source of entertainment for children. It also gives foster kids, who are probably lacking the opportunities afforded to other children, a chance to explore the range of their athletic talents. Basketball emphasizes both athleticism and teamwork. Soccer is another team-oriented sport that can build both cardiovascular health and self-esteem! Swimming also is a sport popular among children and one that foster kids may not have had a chance to learn before. Actively playing sports with foster children is great, but taking them to a professional sporting event -- possibly a new experience for them -- would also be useful. Baseball games, basketball games or any other spectator sport offers an opportunity to bond and keep the foster child entertained. Consider high school or minor league sporting events if professional games are too pricey.
Mentoring is an important part of any caregiver-child relationship. Although foster care is not a permanent arrangement, children nonetheless need mentoring at any age in their life. Encourage your foster child to talk openly and freely about his concerns, worries, problems and perspectives on life. Impart your own life experience and provide tutelage and guidance for the child as he deals with the difficulties of the adoption system.
Make your foster child feel like she is part of a loving, affectionate family. Include her not only in your immediate family but also in the extended family. Introduce her to aunts, grandparents, cousins and the like. Bring her to family dinners, holiday celebrations and birthdays, and invite family members to events in her life, such as graduations and birthdays. This helps inculcate familial bonding and make her life in foster care much easier.
Taking foster children on fun daytime outings facilitates bonding, gives the child exposure to the outside world and increases his range of experience. You can visit parks, lakes, museums, the downtown area of a nearby city, zoos or aquariums, or local nature centers. Many museums have programs and tours geared especially toward children. Similarly, parks and nature centers may have child-specific activities or events. Exploring urban neighborhoods can provide a wealth of activity for foster children of any age. You and your foster child can enjoy people-watching, dining out and shopping. At the lake or other waterfront location, you can go boating or swimming with your foster child. Emphasize activities that she may not have had a chance to experience before. The fact that you want to spend time with the child and plan special outings will make him more well-adjusted.
- Washington Dept. of Health and Human Services: Foster Care
- Beyond the Foster Care System; Betsy Krebs; 2006
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