The 'tween' years are tough for any child. Hormonal transitions and the confusion of Jr High can overwhelm any child- but it can be especially daunting for a kid in foster care. There are a lot of basic skills that many tween kids miss out on learning, because of constant transitions or less-than-great adult role-models. Tune into your inner teacher while a tween is in your home, and teach them a few of these great basic skills that can take them so far in life later on.
How to cook basic meals: Get in the kitchen with your kid and give them the basic tools to be able to feed themselves! Teach them how to read recipes, how to use measuring cups, and how to use an oven, stove top, and microwave to cook many meals. These basic tools aren't often taught to kids who spend a majority of their time in foster care, but are necessary things they need to know in the 'real world'.
How to save money and spend wisely: A simple penny bank can go so far in teaching your child money saving and spending techniques. Small savings habits can add up over time, and teaching your child to budget their gift money and allowances and save for bigger purchases can give your child the money-skills to be successful later in life.
Basic sex ed: I know it's awkward- and it can be a touchy subject with children exposed to sexual harassment in the past. But it is SO important to teach your tween safe-sex practices BEFORE they become active. Be upfront and honest about STDs, the emotional ties that sex can cause, and of course- pregnancy. Kids need to know the basics to protect themselves and the people they are active with later in life. Many tweens in foster care move from school to school and often miss the two-month 'sex ed' course. With the help of therapists and counselors, work to teach kids this course yourself- it can literally change their life later down the road.
How to use a schedule/planner: In Jr. High many schools will start requiring kids to use a planner, and I think this is fantastic. Encouraging your child to use a scheduler or calendar at home, as well, can help create organizational skills and planning skills that can keep them on-the-right-path through all of high school and leading into college.
Responsibility through pet care: I believe between the ages of 10 and 13, is the PRIME time to get kids interested in independent pet care. I'm all about letting my foster kids have pets, and encourage my tweens to pick out a small animal that they- and only they- can be responsible for (of course with my monitoring in the background for the well-being of the animal). Easy-to-care-for reptiles, freshwater fish, small pet rodents, and small birds all go over very well with my tweens. Not only does it give them a much needed emotional animal/human bond, it teaches them how to responsibly care for something!