c) My summer vacation.
d) A special event or person in my life.
Create a Timeline of the Student’s Life
Problem: Some children have little or no information about their milestones. Other chil- dren may wonder if they need to include private information like foster care moves.
Solution: Do not require that the timeline begin from the child’s birth, just that it cover a period of time. Alternatively, allow children to create a timeline for a historical or fictional character.
Superstar, VIP, Student-of-the-Week Projects
Problem: Having students share information about themselves is intended to be a fun activity that helps students get acquainted. But it can be uncomfortable for children who have limited access to pictures and information about their early years. Some children may also have painful memories of their early childhood.
Solution: Instructors can provide students with a list of many alternatives for the information to be shared, including more innocuous choices such as interests, hobbies, sports, or pets.
Tell About Your Name
Problem: Some children will not know why their birth parents chose their name, and may even have gone through a name change.
Solution: Call the assignment “What’s in a Name?” and let students choose between writ- ing about their own name or interviewing a friend or relative about their name.
Write About Your Birth
Problem: This assignment can be fun for children being raised by their biological parents, who can interview their parents about and learn interesting details of their birth. This project is difficult or impossible for many foster and adopted children to complete.
Solution: Ideally, eliminate this assignment altogether, as the questions tend to be intru- sive even for families formed by birth.
Assignments revolving around family and personal history can prove troublesome for many types of students. Increasing numbers of families differ from the “traditional” configuration in one or more ways: single-parent and step families, same-sex parents, transracial families, foster and adoptive families, and kinship caregivers. By modifying assignments, teachers will be exposing all of their students to positive messages about adoption, diversity, and respect for all types of people and families.
Christine Mitchell is also the author of Welcome Home, Forever Child: A Celebration of Children Adopted as Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Beyond; Family Day: Celebrating Ethan’s Adoption Anniversary; A Foster-Adoption Story: Angela and Michael’s Journey, co-authored with Regina M. Kupecky, MSW. This article originally appeared in Fostering Families Today magazine.