Foster care and an appreciation of the value of books

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Foster care and an appreciation of the value of books

Foster carers and supporting literacy

Foster parents to support literacy

Foster carers will be familiar with the adage that something is not missed until it is gone: certainly true of many things. And it would certainly be true if books were to disappear for good. Is the book under threat? Quite possibly. Books convey information but cannot match the dizzying speed at which that commodity is delivered online. We have, nonetheless, to recognise that all societies and we ourselves have been shaped by the printed word. And more particularly, the way information has been disseminated via the medium of the book. The invention of moveable type meant growing numbers could access books as the cost of producing them fell. The same can be said about computers. Their cost has fallen just as technological advances spawned the appearance of other devices like laptops, iPads and smartphones. Books remain with us and that must tell us something. If it doesn’t it should. This is because there are; as our current blog series on Tech makes clear, significant risks for all of us if the fascination we have with it continues unabated. Why? Because it has the potential to alter the way our brains develop. It can also disrupt and redefine the relationships we have with each other. Something foster carers need to be aware of. This may be happening in ways that we cannot fully understand. And that is particularly risky. The dynamics of family life are now being reshaped by this advancing and intrusive Tech. Think not? Then perhaps reflect on what the clinical psychologist, Catherine Steiner-Adair has to say:

“The brain patterns itself after the ‘environmental input’ it receives, be it cuddling or computer games. Tech can quickly establish itself as preferred territory in the young developing brain and come to dominate it at the expense of other essential but slower-growing connections that involve the complexities of thought, emotional signalling, and the distinctly human rhythmic back and forth of communication.”

Books, by contrast, provide the means for a unique interaction between parents or foster carers. In this regard, they are sui generis. After all, there can be few better examples of connection than that of the parent reading to a child? Tech, however, is in so many ways about disconnection. Or a very particular form of limited connection as compared to the limitless richness of authentic human ‘real time’ connection. Past research has shown: 

“A child care provider reads to a toddler. And in a matter of seconds, thousands of cells in these children’s growing brains respond. Some brain cells are ‘turned on,’ triggered by this particular experience. Many existing connections among brain cells are strengthened. At the same time, new brain cells are formed, adding a bit more definition and complexity to the intricate circuitry that will remain largely in place for the rest of these children’s lives.”

Develop the habit of reading with a child.

And the very act of reading with a child promotes bonding, the development of listening skills, cognitive and language development, expansion of vocabulary, improves attention span, builds creativity and supports social and emotional development. This list alone should curb our collective and unquestioning headlong rush toward Tech. Perhaps the answer is to put our passion for invention on hold and concentrate instead on rediscovery. We should renew our faith in books for they have been with us through the centuries. As G K Chesterton wrote in The Everlasting Man: ‘Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a god who knew the way out of the grave.’ The same could be said of books as they seemed touched by immortality. Champions of the form, however, must not allow complacency to take root as total book sales across the industry fell by 11% in the first six months of 2020. We can all learn something important from the fact that there remained a big increase in the demand for fiction. Parents and foster carers will know from the books of J K Rowling just what grip fiction can exert on young minds. Stephen Lotinga, c.e.o. of the Publishers Association, highlighted this success saying: 

“These figures show us that UK readers have returned to fiction during lockdown, turning to novels for entertainment, escapism and comfort during the first six months of this year. Incredible books such as Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror & the Light and Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other have offered people support in these difficult times.”

It seems the printed word retains its power over our imaginations fuelling and nourishing them. All those with an interest in children should continue to foster this. And it can be argued that began in those first few years of life as we were read to by those who loved and cared for us.  

The Rainbow approach to fostering.

Our foster carers are the key professionals working to bring improvements to the lives of those in their care. They can do this because of our commitment to the professional and personal development of our foster carers. We place them firmly at the heart of our fostering service. We support our foster carers so they can build trust and bond with the children they care for. Our knowledge and experience are based on over 20 years experience of working with care experienced children and their foster carers. At Rainbow, we adopt a team approach to looking after children and young people. This means therapists and social workers will work closely with our foster carers to ensure each fostering setting is secure and stable. 

We nurture our foster carers. Our is a culture of mutual reflection for us as well as our carers. Every day there are new fostering experiences from which we can all learn. This means the sharing of knowledge is something we are highly committed to. It informs our practice making it robust and relevant to the needs of children and carers. 

Where you can work with Rainbow.

The children we are currently supporting in London, Birmingham, Manchester and areas of Hampshire are ethnically diverse, of all ages and backgrounds. We need foster homes for teenagers, sibling groups as well as children with complex needs. Rainbow Fostering is also looking to provide homes for young mothers and their babies – known as parent and child fostering. 

You do not need special skills or qualifications to foster. But you do need to have a spare room. Call us on 0330 311 2845 to find out more about what fostering involves. If you like what you hear, we can start the application process over Skype. It’s very easy – one of our friendly recruitment advisors will provide you with all the help you need. Whatever fostering path you decide to take, be confident you will be making a tremendous difference to children who need stability, security and love. And a second chance.

And in the words of one of our foster carers – now with us for over ten years:

“We never looked back after approaching Rainbow who gave us all the help and guidance in making such a life-changing decision.” 

Another of our blogs covering a particular fostering topic:

As lockdown is being gradually lifted, it’s advisable to check the latest advice and guidance to stay safe and well. For the latest information 

visit –  https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus All contact details for Rainbow Fostering Services can be found at:  http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/contact/

Rainbow keeping the focus on fostering.

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