If you are an adoptive parent to an older child, such as a preschooler or elementary-aged child, or if you are currently a foster parent, then you may face the challenge of figuring out what excites your child. What makes him or her light up with imagination? Or inspires them to tell stories to family members? It can be frustrating to try and find that very thing when it seems like the internet makes everything available to our children and possibilities are endless. Below are a few tips for adoptive and foster parents to consider as they face the challenge of finding a child’s individual creative outlet.
After School Programs
For many parents, after school programs are essential to keeping the family flow together. Especially for those who care for children released from school well before the end of a workday. Some after school programs are geared toward a daycare-style system, where they mainly provide general play, exercise, and snacks for children. If your child seems restless after such a program, consider looking for ones with a focus, such as music, art, or sports. There are programs for helping children learn instruments, baseball and flag football, and get their hands dirty with clay and painting. Explore offerings at your neighborhood church and don’t be afraid to ask your adoptive or foster child what sounds most fun to them.
Options at Home
Getting to know your adoptive or foster child is a long process, but many of us know the power behind a simple box of crayons and some paper. Art is a wonderful form of expression, as is reading, singing, and running in the backyard. Being physical and engaging the brain can bring about a lot of positive change and growth, so it’s important to provide many creative options at home. Go ahead and buy markers and paints for your child to try out, but also have physical sport options outside, too. It can be as simple as throwing around a baseball or setting up a small pool. And while it may be tempting to encourage one option over another, try presenting them at different times and see which one your child naturally gravitates to.
Visit Fun Places
If your child doesn’t seem interested in options presented at home, then a great way to engage them is with trips to the local zoo. But don’t just walk the grounds; make them stop and read the signs about the animals and turn it into a fun learning experience. You can also try library trips, where your child can explore books on their own, or take in a hometown football game. Sometimes being out in the world is most stimulating for children and can help parents hone in on interests.
Whatever avenue you take, just remember that presenting many creative options will help your child feel more comfortable and encourage them to express themselves in ways that will only bring the family closer together.