Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Went to a really useful Blue Sky training session.

I remember when I first got going in fostering I wasn't sure about training. I was never top of the class back in my schooldays and getting my feet under a school desk again...well it didn't sit easy.

But things have changed in the world of education; or maybe learning is a different concept when it comes to training. Thing is; it's more than plain painless, it's fun. Perhaps it's that the content is practical and applies to real life. Maybe it's that the rest of the 'class' is  fellow foster carers one can relate to. Maybe it's the visuals. Maybe it's the refreshments. Whatever, all in all it's a good morning out.

This particular session was about a child-friendly practice called PACE.

PACE stands for Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy. It's a method for getting onside with kids.

Even kids who are hard to charm.  And in fostering that's sometimes the challenge.

When a new child arrives you make sure they have their basic needs; food and shelter. You keep them and their room clean, you launder their clothes, get them to and from school - in other words the practical stuff. On the whole the practical stuff is easy, at least inasmuch as you know how to work a hoover, how to cook pasta, how to drive.

But how to get onside with a mite who's been metaphorically bashed about by the world (or sometimes literally)? 

We foster carers start by offering our foster children the same affection we offer our own children. It works with some, but only so far. 

Fostering is a job in which, during one's start-up days, one hopes the child will be grateful for our home and parenting and respect us for our effort. PACE helps one realise how things are for them (in the EMPATHY bit).

PACE gives us tools to help them trust us, help them like us even. Bring about a coming together.

Every so often I come home from training and I've learned something that helps me with my whole family never mind about just the foster children. Helps me out with life in general!

Example; the hall in our house had become a jumble of shoes. The 'rule' is that everyone takes their shoes off when they come in and put on their slippers/house shoes. Everyone's supposed to keep their footwear neatly under the telephone table.  Fact is that by half-past six it's a sea of shoes and trainers.

The "P" in PACE stands for playfulness.

There were six pairs of assorted shoes. So I laid them out so they spelled "HELLO" on the mat.

Each time someone came in there was a jokey conversation. A couple of times they crept into the hall and changed the word.

One obvious anagram of "HELLO" was the source of suppressed but very real laughter.

The joke is still going on every evening. Along with a bunch of other stuff where I've abandoned rules and regs are replaced them with fun.

It's even lightened things up in our marriage.

I'm looking forward to out next training session already!


  1. Im a teacher by profession, and a foster parent waiting for our first placement. It feels a bit like being pregnant, lots of waiting and no guarantees at the end what our child will be! We had a training day yesterday about loss & grief and identity. I have been really impressed with the trainings we have been too, a lot of them better than my teaching ones! The really nice thing was that the facilitator gave us a 20 min slot to ask the other carers anything we wanted to know. My husband has been coming to the training days too, and we have learnt such a lot. Now, just to put it all into practice...

  2. Oh well said! Waiting for that first placement is absolutely the closest thing to pregnancy!
    At least with your own baby you get to start from square one, the thing about your first placement is that they've been through the mill and are on on square minus one, and so are you, because you know less about your first placement than your first child. That said; you get more support with foster placements than with one's own babies.
    We all wish you well, are rooting for you, and hope you find a moment to tell us how it's going.