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Helping Foster Children Stay On Task

“Concentration is like a muscle that requires regular exercise to strengthen. Some kids are born “stronger” in this area than others, but all kids can learn strategies and engage in practices that help improve their ability to focus and sustain their attention”

– Dr. Jamie Howard

Children in out of home care often lack interest in learning and find difficulty in concentrating and staying on task. With 92% of children in care below average reading skills by the time they are seven years of age and struggle to catch up, it is important as mentors to help our children build and train their ‘concentration muscle’.

Here are some tips for our Pyjama Angels to implement in visits to help their children stay on task.

1. Set A Plan

It can be a good idea to create a plan for your visits. At the beginning of your visit you can work with your child to write out a set plan for the visit. This gives both you and your child the opportunity to decide what you will aim to achieve within your visit.

2. Set Time Lengths For Tasks

When setting a plan or just completing tasks, it is important to set appropriate time lengths for specific tasks. As a Pyjama Angel, you will get to know the typical time length your child will concentrate and focus on a task. Use your understanding to set appropriate time lengths on tasks you aim to complete.

3. Use Timers

When aiming to complete a task for a specific time, it can be helpful to utilise timers or stopwatches. Clocks or stopwatches can provide a visual aid for children, and help them understand when a task will finish.

4. Planned Breaks

It is also important to ensure that you build in planned breaks. After spending some time concentrating, it is useful to take a break whether that be a small physical break such as throwing a ball around or trying a Brain Gym exercise.

Brain Gym

These exercises can be utilised if child become distracted or simply as a planned break. These small physical activities will re-engage the brain and can help a child re-focus on a set task.

* Brain Gym exercises adapted from margdteachingposters.weebly.com/thinking-processes

 

Incorporating these tips will hopefully see your visits become more productive and time efficient, though it it important to remember that every child is unique and requires different techniques. Be patient and kind and see what works best for you and your child during your visits.

If you ever feel stuck and need any assistance or tips, our team is available for a chat at 07 3256 8802 between 9-5pm Monday-Friday.

The double-edged sword of volunteering

Volunteering is undoubtedly a worthwhile way to spend your time; there’s often not a more worthwhile feeling than bettering yourself through acts of charity and helping those in need. But when we help others, we often forget to take care of ourselves, resulting in burnout and other nasties. We have some important strategies to make sure you can still do you and continue being an awesome volunteer.

 

  • Ask for help

If your friends were asked to describe you, what would they say? You’re generous, would drop everything to help them, support them during a rough time? Helping when asked is admirable, but don’t forget to ask someone to help you.

We are lucky to live in a time where there are many options available should you need some extra assistance. Even if you don’t volunteer, being on the front foot with your mental health shouldn’t be unusual. You have the opportunity to speak with a qualified professional in a safe space, and therefore have a healthy outlet where you can speak without fear.

 

  • Voice your concerns

Once in a while, you might hear or see something that concerns you about the health and/or wellbeing of the child in your placement. What do you do? Don’t place the responsibility onto yourself – we’re here to help!. During your induction process, you’ll be walked through on what to do if you see or hear something that leaves you feeling slightly unsettled.

 

  • Indulge yourself

Or, in today’s lingo, treat yo’self! Do something you love for yourself because you definitely earned it. Think about the last time you had a weekend away or had someone else cook for you. What is something you enjoy but haven’t had the time for lately?

 

  • Say no

You’re not obliged to accept every invitation or do every chore people ask of you. Saying NO is the best way to take care of yourself, and your prioritise. You have people in your life who won’t take you saying ‘no’ personally. Sometimes invitations might clash with your volunteering, and that’s okay!

 

Study up here

6 Things About Foster Kids You May Not Have Known

Volunteer

4 Reasons You Should Invest Your Time in The Love of Learning Program

People are raised with the common belief that there is good to be found in everyone. This goodwill is often expressed through charitable acts, from caring for your children to donating time, money, or goods to different causes. One of the causes that might appeal to you is youth mentoring and children’s education. So, why […]

How one-on-one mentoring helps youth combat life obstacles

Mentoring is nothing new. Arthur had Merlin, Cinderella had a fairy godmother, and Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs. One-on-one mentoring helped all these characters achieve great things, both in fiction and real life. Pyjama Angels are unsung heroes in daily life, but the impact from their one-on-one mentoring has helped young people rise to the challenge life throws at them.

 

So how does one-on-one mentoring help little kids and young people?

 

Children in foster care have a hard time at school thanks to their circumstances; they can’t pay attention, refuse to interact, or start fights with classmates to name a few problems. This comes from past trauma and generally low self-esteem. Pyjama Angels mentor a young person to help them with their education. This can be something as simple as reading a book.

It’s never too soon to start

Pyjama Angels are a positive influence in their mentee’s life. That one hour a week helps the children cope with school. Thanks to their Pyjama Angel, they’re finishing homework, reading books without being asked, and getting better report cards each term.

 

One-on-one mentoring with a child in foster care sets them up for success in their young adult life. They’re more likely to seek out a good circle of friends over a crowd that is likely to break the rules. Young people who get mentoring early in life are more likely to graduate high school and might even become a mentor themselves as an adult. Their outlook on life is also more positive, mentees grow up to realise that despite their past, they are worthy of a good job, a happy home, and being safe.

 

One-on-one mentoring is challenging for both mentors and their child in the beginning. An important trait in Pyjama Angels is their resilience. They’re empathic, kind, supportive, and also push their mentee, but within reason. Pyjama Angels are screened, trained, and matched with a child in the Love of Learning Program. The first few weeks, if not months, will be challenging because you’re getting to know each other; trust and rapport need to be built. But relationships need time to grow. And who knows? Within a year, mentees might go from hating books to reading three a week!