Every parent wants their child to experience academic success. Some children, however, have more challenges than others–and the educational concerns of adopted children deserve a little special attention. Adopted children often come into their studies behind their peers. They might not have had the same opportunities prior to their adoption, or they might be struggling with emotional issues that, to them, are more important than what they’re learning in school. Understanding those concerns, however, can help the parents and teachers of adopted students in their quest to help these students succeed.
Concern #1: Learning Differences
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adopted children are almost twice as likely as their peers raised in their biological families to have learning disabilities and differences. There are several factors that lead to this: genetics, drug exposure before birth, and the high-stress levels experienced by children who aren’t cared for appropriately by their own families top the list. Children who have been adopted from other countries may come in still needing to perfect their English skills or with a strong preference for their first language.
Concern #2: Emotional Weight
Adopted children enter their educational journeys with heavy emotional baggage. They may struggle with feelings of abandonment or anxiety concerning the situation that caused them to end up in need of adoption, to begin with. They may be struggling with insecurity because their race and appearance don’t match their parents–or, potentially, even many of the other students in their school. Adopted children often face serious emotional concerns that they need to work through in a safe environment–and those concerns may make it difficult for them to concentrate on their studies, especially if they’ve only recently been adopted or they’ve recently learned of the adoption.
Because of these concerns, as well as other factors, adopted children may be more likely to have anger issues and face other behavioral problems in school. They may also struggle with motivation or be unwilling to try as hard as their peers, which makes it difficult for them to overcome obstacles or tackle new material in the classroom. Unfortunately, these problems don’t get better over time: adopted children continue to face more academic and behavioral issues than their peers throughout middle school and beyond. One popular theory is that adopted children have often failed to receive a consistent primary attachment bond in infancy and early childhood and that this lack of bonding leads to struggles that could last the rest of their lives.
Concern #3: Differences from Parents
Every member of a family doesn’t have the same strengths and weaknesses. One child may be extraordinary at math, while another child excels in English–or, on the flip side, prefers sports to sitting down with their books. For adopted children, however, this difference may be even more pronounced. Adopted children may, for example, struggle with an intelligent adoptive family when they feel as though their own academic skills don’t measure up; or, on the flip side, they may struggle with the fact that they’re “smarter” than their adoptive family, able to excel with ease in areas where their new parents struggled. Even the best-intentioned adoptive families may accidentally exacerbate these feelings of being “different” as they struggle to explain concepts that came naturally to them or can’t understand the material presented to them by the child.
Bridging the Gap
Adopted children benefit just as much as their peers, if not more so, from a variety of classroom interventions. Small class sizes and plenty of one-on-one attention, as well as classrooms that are arranged in a way that makes it easier to deal with any learning disabilities they may have, are vital to improving the academic performance of adopted students. Whether adopted children come from a background of abuse and neglect or have faced other challenges in their young lives, providing them with additional support in the classroom is essential to helping them succeed in their academic careers.
If you have an adopted child and you want them to complete their education in a nurturing environment where their learning differences will be handled proactively and responsibly, contact us. We want to work with you to ensure that all of your children will have the best possible education.