Summer time tips

July 8, 2015 at 9:44 pm 35 comments


Summertime is here. It is not my favorite season, that would be spring and fall, but we have no choice, it is one of the four seasons. Summer may be a time of year that is more difficult for foster parents and foster kids  because school is not in session, and you may be looking for things to do. Let’s share summer tips needed to help foster kids and you survive the summer months.  Add yours in the comments!

1) NO to respitechica-mano-no

You know my feelings on respite; it sucks.  Don’t go on vacation and leave “the foster kid” behind. How do you think he/she feels knowing everyone they live with is going to the beach or the mountains, and the “foster kid” is forced into a respite situation.  Take your foster child with you.  Plan ahead and get all the necessary papers signed, so your foster child can go too.  This might be the first time your foster child is going on vacation somewhere.

Remember my blog about thaslpe Hippie foster parents who would take me camping and hiking, taught me how to build a kick-ass fire, and all about trees and bushes?   The things they taught me during these “vacations” lasted with me all these years. I can still build a kick-ass fire in any weather, if I needed to. They never left me in respite when they went and it was a great learning experience for me.


2) Sign your foster child up for somethingsummer camp

Many foster kids miss out on all kinds of activities because they move around too much or the foster parents don’t want to take the time, effort, and money to get their foster child in an activity.  Summer is the perfect time for anything!  What does your foster child like?  Sports?  Crafts?  Learning? — Sign them up!  If you are worried about money, places like the YMCA might have reasonable activities.

3) Send some letters in the mail!

When I was growing up, I never gMailot mail at most foster homes.  Everyone else got mail.  Some people got letters, some people got cards, some people got magazines, but I never got anything.  I can remember going to the mailbox hoping something was for me, and being sad when there was nothing.  Biokids probably got mail on their birthdays, maybe a magazine monthly, etc… but I got nothing.  And even if the magazine was supposed to be shared, it had another name on it. So……Sit down and write a letter to your foster child. Tell them that you are happy they are there. Tell them that you enjoy them.  You are giving them something that they can always hold onto… a token of their time with you.  It’s special…If someone had sent me a letter, I might have felt like I belonged more.

4) School’s not out, just a different schoolth

Even though school is out, learning should not stop.  Take the summer months to teach your foster children about things that children should be taught when growing up, call them Life Skills if you want…

  • Money management (bank accounts, credit cards, how to pay bills, taxes, etc)
  • Healthcare  (how many times should you goto the dentist?, should you get your eyes checked?, etc)
  • Cooking (how to cook chicken, beef, etc)
  • Interview tips for jobs

Most of these Life Skills can be taught to all ages.  For example, younger kids can learn about saving money in a piggy bank, while older children can learn about bank accounts.

Also, many foster kids are behind in school and brains tend to go on vacation when not in school. Mine went on a permanent vacation.. and has yet to come back.  Here are a few tips based on positive foster care experiences that can help kids keep learning throughout the summer:

  • Theme nights – have an Italian dinner night, a Mexican dinner night, a chicken dinner night, etc.  For each theme, the children have to bring one fact related to the theme to share over dinner. They have to bring enough information so that everyone understands the fact – no one-liners.

People doing a puzzle

  • Do puzzles together.  There is something about doing puzzles that stimulates the brain.  Your foster kids may never have done a puzzle. I never did a puzzle until I was living with Sara and Bill.  They even permentantly glued their puzzles together and hung them up. Let your foster kids pick out one, and work on it together. It’s time spent together. Plus, it’s such a reward and proof of accomplishment when finishing a puzzle…. and especially going from an easy puzzle to a harder puzzle.


  • Do scavenger hunts and talk about what your kids found.  Make them find things inside and outside. For each thing they find, they have to find out an interesting fact about that item.  This may sound ridiculous, but it is a fun way to learn!  If you tell your child to find a leaf, he/she would then learn something about the leaf they find.  Or find a baseball and then the child has to report something about baseball. This can be a weekly event where one day a week, the kids have to find one or two items; or you could do it everyday for a couple weeks throughout the summer.

5) Hit the trails

Get out in naturcartoon-roasting-marshmallows-Roasting_Marshmallows_6e.  Nature is incredibly powerful and healing.  Watch the ocean, look at the stars, swing on vines that hang from trees, collect rocks or shells, put your hands in a running stream…it’s an incredible feeling.  Let kids run around and feel free.  At night, build a fire and roast marshmallows using sticks to hold them.  Show them the constellations and listen to silence of the night air.  Scream at the top of your lungs! Breathe deep letting the early morning air awaken your senses. Just be…


6) Go to the zoo

I never went to a zoo until I was an adult.  While I am not sure how I feel about the animals in cages, I did learn alot about different animals from different countries. It was amazing seeing animals up close and learning about where they came from. It was even cool holding the reptiles in the reptile house. Get a tour guide at the zoo and pick their brains.  They know alot!

7) Read a book together

african_american_family_reading_300x200.jpg__300x200_q85_crop_upscaleSpend time reading together. Even if you have an older child, this can be an incredible way for a child to learn and to create a bond. Take turns reading chapters. It helps the child learn auditorily as you read and improves his/her ability to read out-loud.  Pick a book together and do this each night. As you know, I have a difficult time reading and comprehending what I read, but honestly my reading did get better when this was done with me. It also made for a good discussion about things that showed up in the book that I had never heard of or understood.

8) Ride bikes

One of the coolest iStock_000003355364XSmallthings I learned from Sara and Bill was how to ride a bike.  Once you learn to ride a bike, you suddenly have places to go and a way to get there. All kids ride bikes so if you have a child who does not, he/she might feel disconnected. Help them get connected… and if you can’t afford a new bike, go to a pawn shop or places like Goodwill (Hey, I once wrote that Goodwill is good for my ass cause I buy my jeans/clothes there, now its good for anyone’s ass who is going to exercise on a bike!)  So, let your child pick out the bike… and don’t forget the helmet.  It protects the brain from splattering all over…

If I did not learn how to ride a bike with Sara and Bill, I would probably never have learned.  And it was something that kept with me, because as you know, until my bike accident, I used to ride all over…

9) Just play

Today everyone is so tuned out and plugged into electronic stuff, that no-one just plays anymore.  Get your foster child outside and play.  Build forts with sticks, throw a frisbee around, play tag, go on swings, play hide and seek.  Many foster kids may come from areas that are not safe to play outside, but if they are in a safe outdoors-4kidsoutside-BaconPola_479X238area now, let them run around.  Play is actually good for the brain, as well as the body.  It stimulates creativity and thought. One study found that 50% of preschool kids don’t play outside everyday.  (This link has some ideas, for play, but really play can just “be free” and spontaneous.  Look at the Play 4 Life link which gives play ideas by age.  The Nuture store has some interesting ideas)

I still goto parks and play outside.  I used to take my dogs there, but I even go alone and pretend to be superheros with superpowers and sticks become my swords and tubes connected to swingsets become my forts. I still love the feeling of the air whisping through my messy hair as I swing as high as I can… cool feeling.  Adults should play too… it’s good for the mood.


Happy summer all…..    Any others?



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

talking trust danger at the dentist

35 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sharon Vandivere  |  July 8, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    I have one… teach your kids to swim. This is a skill both for safety and for fun that kids can take with them if/when they leave you, and they may not have had the opportunity to learn to swim (similar to learning to ride a bike!)

    • 2. LeftyChrist  |  July 8, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      I agree with this – that is what we are doing with our foster kids – signing them up for swim lessons. Safety, fun and exercise all together. Plus, lots of outdoor/free swimming opportunities, once they have the know-how 🙂

      • 3. Elizabeth  |  July 8, 2015 at 11:28 pm

        I agree with this too. Many of our foster children could not swim. Some were afraid of the water. It’s good exercise and there are plenty of public pools in cities.

    • 4. Linka  |  July 9, 2015 at 10:25 am

      I totally agree and advocate for swimming to be included as a life skill.

    • 5. Sarah  |  July 9, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Yes! One of the first things I ask my kids when they come to my house is if they can swim or not. If they can’t, they learn as soon as summer hits.

      1) We live near the ocean AND rivers.

      2) We don’t want them to be the kid that can’t swim at the pool party.

  • 6. Hope  |  July 8, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    I just want to thank you for all your wonderful insight into how to raise a foster child. My family recently had 4 fosters children put into our home. We are now a family of 9. It is way difficult to go on vacations as a family but we still do it because we don’t want to leave them out. You are a wonderful person to share your insights and experience. I wish you the best in life and in all of your endeavors. God has a special place for you in the world.

  • 7. LeftyChrist  |  July 8, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    I have one: volunteer with your foster children. Or sign them up to volunteer, doing something they like. I signed up our oldest to foster kittens from the local shelter that were too young to be re-homed yet. It was alolt of work, but very rewarding. And no worries on committing to too much – if she got tired of the work, we just take break for awhile. Worked really well for us. Maybe for someone here too?

  • 8. bethanylest  |  July 8, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    I second the idea about swimming. Also gardening would be good to add to the list. Growing vegetables and berries can be very rewarding and useful.

    • 9. onemorewithus  |  July 9, 2015 at 1:05 am

      Gardening, great exercise!

  • 10. LeftyChrist  |  July 8, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    We went to the library and checked out a book on urban, edible wild plants. Been having fun “urban hiking” (aka – walking and bussing it) near trails and parks where we have ID’d plants that we can pick, clean and eat. Rosehips, blackberries, horsetails, clover, marigolds, lavender, etc. Plus we have found several fruit trees that have been long neglected – that we picked cherries, apples, etc. for fruit juice and pie filling. It’s sort of like a scavenger hunt now every time we walk out the door.

  • 11. jnkmailacc  |  July 8, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    When my husband and I were in our foster parent class and they explained respite to us I said “you realize that in 20 years people will be in these classes talking about what a awful idea respite was.” They looked at me like I had three heads. It’s just plain awful. We asked that parents who do use respite, do play dates and sleepovers with us at least so their children know us and we could be a resource. I was ignored. Last year we took for boys under 7 to the beach for a week and I was 7 months pregnant. We had a great time!

  • 12. s00147954  |  July 8, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Wow that was really comprehensive! Thanks LT.

    I liked what you said about learning and reading. I think a lot of fosters parents neglect this part – the kiddos I used to mentor were really behind all the other kids their age in reading and writing, but especially maths (because lets face it, math is hard). Their fosters parents were really great, but were too busy taking care of anything else to focus on education (just not enough time in the day).

    It really disadvantages them in so many ways. Learning was hard enough for me when i was a kid, without having to move around and deal with what foster kids have to deal with. I would add: advocating for your kiddo(s) and making sure they get tutoring or work with schools – counsellors etc – to make sure they don’t get left behind and lost in the system. Here in Australia we have volunteer programs that focus on literacy and numeracy but on having fun at the same time so the kids don’t get bored and lose interest, I’m not sure if similar things exist elsewhere?

  • 13. Gisela  |  July 8, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Happy summer to you too!
    Great ideas from a great person.
    I think you will be a great mom, and that one day you will have a nice family, with a good husband and kids.
    I hope you are enjoying some of these activities this summer.
    With admiration,

  • 14. Katie K  |  July 8, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    I’m in search of ideas. My family regularly vacations abroad; however, we are interested in doing foster care. Since you can’t take foster kids out of the country, how might we handle this?

    • 15. Another Time  |  July 9, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      You could do extensive research and overnight bring the country to home. And/or find authentic restaurants to suit the country you have picked. There are probably little hidden neighborhoods set up to resemble a home country. Like Disney (Epcot?) has the around the world walk.

      It might not feel the same to you, but I’m sure it’ll be quite nice and without the hassle of travel transport chaos.

      Good luck with whatever is decided! 🙂

    • 16. Sarah  |  July 9, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      You actually can take foster kids out of the country. It just takes more work. You have to get permission to get the passports together, and then you have to get permission to take them on the specific trip.

    • 17. Katie K  |  July 12, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      Thank you so much for this. I love the idea of doing fun “staycations” (we just do stuff like that anyway), but our vacations are largely to visit family–so a neighborhood joint in just not going to be the same at all. 😦

      Our contact at DHS said that they seldom give permission for foster kids to travel outside the country. In this situation, does anyone this respite would be THAT bad? Especially if we bring back souvenirs etc. for a foster child. I am trying to sort through this before we are talking about a real child and it does seem to be our biggest stumbling block. ACK!

    • 18. Terri  |  January 10, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      You can take them out of the country if you plan ahead and get permission.

  • 19. saranordmann  |  July 8, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    Wow, LT, you are being really productive lately. Thanks for the tips!

    Sent from my phone. Pardon the typos.

  • 20. Leslie Moore  |  July 8, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    This post shows a GIANT step in your recovery LT! You are GIVING what you learned from your suffering in hope of helping others not suffer. That is LOVE! And GIVING love is the ONLY way to make room to RECEIVE love. I’m SO happy!

  • 21. Tina  |  July 8, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Wow you continue to make me smile. You are such a wonderful writer. Making people really feel what it’s like to walk in another person shoes. You bring such light to the foster care system the good the bad and the ugly of being in foster child plus also you bring light to being a foster mom .I notice when you talk about therapy you seem to hold on to the ugly pass that you cant let go of.but when you write we get to read alot of posstive advice writen so well that we.can feel so much throw your writing . You have touched so many people I don’t think you even realize how good your advise is how you have used you life experiences to touch so many people and change so many lives I cry sometimes when I read your blogs such a beautiful gift you have such posstive. advise thank you for sharing with us

  • 22. Foster Mom in Training  |  July 8, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Great ideas, LT. These are helpful tips for any family. I’ve learned free resources are available from churches and different organizations. Free camps, free bikes, free experiences of all kinds. Parents can apply for scholarships based on need. Just mentioning you are a foster parent can get you a discount for the kids. Be willing to ask. Put yourself out there. The experiences are great for everyone.

  • 23. onemorewithus  |  July 9, 2015 at 1:02 am

    I love it!
    I love the idea of the themed dinner and the scavenger hunt!!
    I want to try them out.
    Camping is something we do.
    Going for walks.
    I’m contemplating having the kids build bird houses, letting them paint and decorate in any way they choose.
    Fun! Thank you for giving us these ideas!!

  • 24. Alison  |  July 9, 2015 at 2:47 am

    Good morning from sunny England LT! I love your suggestions, especially the letter. My foster child really struggles to accept praise so the letter would be brilliant. She could read and re-read how exceptional we believe her to be in her own time. She does get ridiculously excited about receiving post and it’s usually from social services!
    Thanks for the insights and keep ’em coming. Take care. x

  • 25. Paula  |  July 9, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Great tips. My struggle as a foster parent has been getting older kids involved. My little ones are gung-ho but the teenagers really struggle with joining in no matter what I tired. But I always kept trying. :-). Love reading your perspective. You help us help the kids.

  • 26. Linka  |  July 9, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Morning LT! AWESOME post! I am printing it off right now to put in with our FP newsletter next week. And, will discuss with the newbies in my current class on Monday (topic is attachment/bonding/separation, and this post is great for ideas for bonding opportunities!).
    I am smiling over your positivity and insights! Sure do appreciate everything you offer us. Hope your day is a great one! (And that is is not raining like it has been here in Ohio for what seems like months!)

  • 27. ritalee8383  |  July 9, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Way to go LT! Your ideas are so practical and important. I was so happy to see this post. 🙂

  • 28. Another Time  |  July 9, 2015 at 11:56 am

    I love this so much! It’s tons of good advise for everyone.

    I have one or two to add! Play in the rain! I did that yesterday when I was accidentally caught in a massive downpour. Soaked to the bone and couldn’t quite get my own shirt off until it dried but it was still fun. Rain can be substituted for the hose as well. I hear too often of kids being told they can’t play outside when it is only raining. Playing when it is raining is fun no matter the age.

  • 29. Colleen Cox  |  July 9, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    This is an incredible list of ideas and suggestions… I am a social worker in child welfare, and I plan on sharing this with our agency staff…great post LT, thanks!!!

  • 30. Stephanie  |  July 9, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    😀 great blog!

  • 31. mv49496  |  July 10, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Wonderful advocating post! A great help that will no doubt bless many kids. Wonderful job, LT!

    Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2015 01:44:40 +0000

  • 32. Eve and Ella  |  July 11, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Your blog makes me sad EVERY SINGLE TIME. But I agree with everything you say. I remember all my failed foster placements and how I ended up thinking that I didn’t matter and that nobody would ever love me. Nobody did until I met Ella 🙂

  • 33. S. Guy  |  September 3, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Great Post! Thanks for tips! I’ll definitely use it!
    And I agree: “No Respite”! Anyway, how I could persuade my partner that i want to go to Disneyland 😉
    (I am new foster carer)

  • 34. S. Guy  |  September 3, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Reblogged this on C+S fosterguys and commented:
    Post from former Foster Kid!
    Great tips! I’ll definitely use it!
    And I agree: “No Respite”! Anyway, how I could persuade my partner that i want to go to Disneyland 😉

  • 35. Tlc  |  January 9, 2016 at 7:56 am

    I try to be a good foster parent. You make me want to try harder. Thank you.


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