It can take time for a foster child to bond with their foster carer(s). You can enhance this by engaging in some fun activities as a family or in a one-on-one session. It is important that you plan several joint activities a week to make a foster child feel included. Use the opportunity to open and improve your channels of communication. We have put together a list of some activities you can do to encourage your foster child to bond with you.
Reading Out Loud
Have a set time every week where you read to your foster child. A good idea is to get a book with several chapters or a series of books with the same characters to give your foster child something to look forward to. They will anticipate the next instalment and be eager to see what happens next, making them receptive to the shared activity.
Once the child is old enough, join your local library. Being able to choose your own books is one of the greatest attractions of a visit to the library so allow sufficient time for the child to browse and find books that they really want to read.
Cooking with Foster Children
Cooking or baking together has the added advantage of a tasty snack once the food is ready. This is also a good opportunity to teach young children that cleaning up after working in the kitchen is part of the job. If the child is still small, stand them on a chair so that they can help with the washing up.
If you want to extend the activity, get the child to choose a recipe and go to the shop together to buy the ingredients. This provides the child with a comprehensive experience of where food comes from. You can extend this knowledge sharing by reading books together about farmers and showing the child pictures of cows, other farm animals, crops, and how these are processed.
Playing at the Park
The park provides a chance for everyone to get some fresh air and exercise. Your fostering agency, such as Orange Grove Foster Care, will also provide get-togethers for foster children and their carers, and you are advised to use these outings to get the health benefits and to extend your foster child’s social experience. You can take items like balls and bats, or balloons, to increase the scope of the activity after playing on the park games. Finish the activity with a picnic at the park. Allow your foster child to choose the food and drinks to take with and let them help you pack the picnic basket.
Once a week, get out the family games and let everyone decide on which one to play that night. Encourage foster children to provide input so that they get used to communicating in a group and know that their choices are valued. Rotate the decision, with a different family member picking the game each week. Aim to have a variety of board games to choose from.
At least one of your weekly activities should allow foster children some relatively unstructured family time to explore their creativity. Get the equipment that will be needed and remind everyone of the rules about cleaning up.
Painting is a soothing, absorbing activity. It can also provide opportunities to get your foster child to open up and increase their communication with you. Ask them some questions such as what their favourite meals are or which movies they have watched.
With consistency in setting up fun activities throughout the week, you will provide stimulation and encourage bonding.