Adoption can be a tricky subject to discuss -- especially with preschoolers. While "birth family," "dossier" and "foster care" aren't terms easily explained to an inquisitive 3-year-old, age-appropriate materials and activities can help make these concepts easier to grasp. It is important to do this in a way that helps little ones understand and acknowledge the importance of family relationships while learning to celebrate adopted children and both their birth and adoptive families.
Many children's books address aspects of adoption through simple language and beautiful illustrations. Children's book authors such as Todd Parr and Jamie Lee Curtis have written books geared toward explaining adoption to preschoolers. Having a library full of books that depict and celebrate families and people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures also helps normalize diversity and trans-racial families.
2. Celebrating Birth Countries
If your child or a student in your class is adopted internationally, it can be a wonderful opportunity to educate others about his heritage and birth country. Point out the country on a map and discuss what the geography, food and animals are part of the culture. Celebrate a holiday from the child's birth country, observing specific traditions, preparing appropriate food and dressing in traditional garb.
3. Adoption Family Trees
Family trees don't need to be an exclusive project reserved only for "traditional" families. If an adopted child knows a lot about his birth family, you can create a tree that incorporates the names of the birth family and the adoptive family. Perhaps your child would enjoy drawing pictures of what she imagines her birth parents look like or use pictures from a magazine that illustrate scenes from her birth country. Let your child's feelings and emotions regarding her birth family be your guide and use the project as an opportunity to discuss family relationships.
4. National Adoption Day
Each year, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, National Adoption Day is observed. Because this holiday celebrates foster care adoption in the United States, it can be an opportunity to participate in a service project concerning the foster care system. Contact a local social service program to find out how you can connect with foster families and children in your area. You might have your preschooler create and mail cards to foster families or wrap gifts to take to children in the foster-care system.
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