Parenting Your Adopted School-Age Child

Once a child is 5 or 6 years old, the school environment plays a major role in their life. The child’s teachers and friends become a major source of the child’s interactions and relationships. As a parent you can recognize that many of the problems your child may experience in school are “normal” educational, school, social, and school-system problems that tend to be common to most children. However, as adoptive and permanency parents, we must be knowledgeable about issues that may develop that have to do with the unique layers of adoption. This factsheet is designed to help adoptive parents understand and respond to their school-age child’s developmental needs. It provides simple, practical strategies you can use to foster healthy development, including approaches for building attachment; addressing trauma, grief, and loss; talking honestly with your child about adoption; acknowledging his or her adoption history; using effective discipline; and enhancing your child’s school experience. Because some adoptive families will need extra support to address their children’s mental or behavioral health needs, the factsheet also discusses when and how to seek help.