The many faces of a ‘Foster Carer’ - An Educator - Countryside Carer
04 April 2023
04 April 2023
I’ve been in education all of my adult life. I knew when I was really quite young that teaching was what I wanted to do. I went to a boarding school and soon found myself co-coaching the younger pupils sports teams, I was a mentor and a homework aid. I knew that being with children was easier than being with adults and seeing the delight on a child’s face when they learnt something new or mastered a new skill was priceless. When we decided to make the move to become foster carers I believed that the job would just be an extension of my job in the classroom. And for the most part, I was right.
Being involved in your child’s academic progress and supporting with homework, projects and the dreaded period of time when we all home schooled was all expected, all part and parcel of the fostering daily routine.
I also understood that we would be looking at life skill work, retraining brains and reparenting as we go. I think the biggest shock for me and the difference between ‘classroom educator’ and ‘foster carer educator’ was that the latter was 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and took part in every nook and cranny of your home. There’s a huge difference in being able to skip out of the school building at 4pm on a Friday night, driving home imagining that class fo wine waiting for you and (although there would be marking and planning to do over the weekend) the physical presence of children wouldn’t be a consideration. Fostering invades (which I actually feel is quite a strong word and although sounds negative, doesn’t mean to be) every aspect of your private life. Not only are you helping with a science homework you are also teaching children how to shower (when you can’t see them naked) or trying to instil a trust into them when they have been told all their lives to distrust adults. It’s remembering not swear when the BMW driver (no offence meant!) cuts you up on your country road home or making sure you pop your head out of the bathroom to check they aren’t in the corridor when coming out in a towel. I think what I can imagine is the hardest part of this situation (which we haven’t experienced) is that, every placement, every young person that comes into your home is different. Has different needs and different expectations. And we have to adapt.
There are a few similarities to being in the classroom though. There is still that rush of adrenaline and a child learns something new. There’s still that look of pride as they figure out how to tie their shoelaces or ride a bike. And I guess, fostering is better than simply teaching. This way you get to share everything. All their life experiences, you get to come along for the ride. There are times when fostering brings me to my knees but for the most part it really is the most magical experience and I would swap that Friday night drive home for the 24/7 madness in a heartbeat. Every. Single. Time.
04 April 2023