Helen’s Fostering Blog
Looking after yourself helps develop essential life skills.
These skills need to be taught at home through experiences and examples set by those around them. Learning kindness, patience, positivity, belie in oneself and others, understanding, reasoning and how to keep ourselves safe and healthy are not only essential life skills they are good for our self esteem, self worth and self belief.
When Beth and Harry came to live with us, they were behind for their age in many ways. It was hard at the beginning because we wanted to strike a balance between letting them be parented and cared for as they had missed out on so much of that but also help them develop independent skills.
On a day to day basis we work on these skills without even thinking about it most of the time, although myself and my husband are often talking about what else we need to concentrate on to help the Beth and Harry learn new skills. It has been very rewarding to see them grow and flourish in all aspects of these all-important life skills.
Health and eating habits
We have watched YouTube videos, read books, always setting a good example and had countless conversations about hygiene, healthy eating and the importance of being active.
Beth will be 11 in the summer and it’s only been in the last 6 months that she has learnt to wash her hair herself. I have now started to teach Beth how to safely run her own bath, remembering to take her pj’s into the bathroom with her. At first, she was really worried about doing this but very quickly seems to be taking it in her stride. I suspect it will take about a month of me helping before I feel comfortable with her doing it herself.
It is essential for children to know what their home address is, to learn important telephone numbers, who to call in an emergency. What we have noticed is that children watch a lot of American tv, and they think the number they need to call is 911 not 999.
We are currently researching basic first aid that we can do with the children to help them learn these skills.
Doing your bit
Taking responsibility for ourselves. Even if it is getting their bag ready for school, bringing plates and cups into the kitchen. Helping lay the table for dinner, even helping cook dinner. Making their beds each morning and choosing weather/ activity appropriate clothing to wear each day. These can give us a sense of responsibility.
Rather than waking them up each morning, we have now set their alarm clocks for them to get up and start getting ready without being asked. Help them learn to manage and understand time. Ensuring they build in time during their day to get their homework done. Which will help them understand dividing up their time for work/play.
Giving options, pointing out the different outcomes, i.e. you will need to complete your homework over the weekend, would you rather get it all done in one go or spilt it over the weekend. There are advantages to both options but that is where our personality comes in to play on what works best for each individual.
In our household each of the children get £5 a week. We encourage them to save this money otherwise all they can really buy is tat or sweets and chocolate. By encouraging them to save their money they are learning that they can buy something better and that they will get more enjoyment out of.
If we are planning a weekend away or holiday, we also encourage Beth and Harry to save their pocket money so that they can spend it whilst we are away, on these occasions we give them an incentive explaining we will match the money they have saved so they have even more to spend.
Teaching them to manage their money at an early age will hopefully help them hone in on their ability to budget, planning and saving and most importantly learning the value of money.
Basic cooking skills
Getting the children to learn basic skills by making their own sandwich, or cutting up their fruit, pouring their own drinks. Kids love baking, especially getting to lick the bowl afterwards. Not only is it fun it helps them understand about preparation, following instructions, weighing out the ingredients, timings and keeping ourselves safe from the possible dangers. They will learn the importance of hygiene by keeping the kitchen and themselves clean.
Communication skills and how to behave appropriately
Explaining appropriate behaviour whilst out in a restaurant, for instance not running around or talking so loudly that they disturb other dinners. To have the confidence to politely order their own food. I always encourage the children when arriving for an appointment for them to approach the counter themselves and explain who they have an appointment with and be able to give their own details when asked.
Seeing things from someone else’s perspective
Often when the children have had an issue with a friend at school or with their sibling, we help the children to try and see it from the other persons perspective.
By helping point out the possible reasons why someone may have reacted to a situation helps them see things from someone else point of view.
Learning to look past their own feelings and try to understand others.
These are just a few examples, and obviously new skills will need to be developed as they grow into adulthood, but we hope we are on the right track and we are starting to bridge the gap in their learning.