Sunday, December 21, 2008

Homeschooling Older Adopted Children

One day last week while we were eating lunch, Minte began to look thoughtful (even a bit concerned) and then asked me a question.

"Mommy. Ahfter Chreestmas... Minte go to school?"

"Yes, after Christmas we've got to start our schoolwork again."

"No. Ahfter Chreestmas, Minte go? Out? (pointing to the door) To other school?"

"Oh, no baby. We're going to do school at home still. Minte will go to school here. With Mommy and Kyle and Bethany."

Then it was my turn to think, and perhaps be concerned. Maybe he wants to go to school. Maybe he feels like he's missing something. Maybe he's asking me, hoping I'm going to tell him "yes." Maybe...

So, of course, I asked.

"Does Minte want to go to school? To other school?"

His eyes widened and he replied, "NO! Minte no English. Teacher talk, Minte say, 'I don't know!'"

He seemed happy and reassured that we were, in fact, going to continue homeschooling. Of course, that made me happy and reassured me that we are doing the right thing for him.

He really is a "best-case-scenario", in the adoption sense. He was very well cared for and loved by all of his caregivers, in a consistent, well-run, small orphanage with a nurturing environment. He is generally happy, appears to be extremely resilient, has a positive disposition and a great sense of humor, has a deep, abiding faith in God, has positive memories of his "former life" and his Ethiopian parents, which he freely talks about daily. He seems secure and responds well to new situations. He's extremely obedient and courteous. He's highly intelligent, has the capacity to learn and retain large amounts of information, and can recall facts to a great detail. Overall, he's an excellent student. By all accounts and estimations, he would do well in a traditional classroom setting. But, at his deepest level, it's not what he wants. There is an underlying insecurity there, and I'm really glad he shared it with me.

I shared part of our reason for homeschooling him, and a little bit of background here. I am hopeful that sometime during our holiday break, while I'm at the computer putting the finishing touches on our school plans for spring I'll be able to share more specifically what we've been doing. But for now, I'll just share that it's working. It's working for me, our other children, and most of all, it's working for him. He is learning about family, about love, and about home. He's progressing academically, and learning a new language and culture at a manageable pace. He's learning that when he needs to, he can look me (and the others with whom he's in constant contact throughout each day) in the eye and ask questions using his broken English without fearing that he'll be misunderstood or made fun of. He's learning that he can throw some Amharic in there as well and that it makes Mom smile. He's learning that sometimes Mom will try to answer him in broken Amharic with a Texas twang, and that makes him smile. What could be a barrier in another setting is actually part of the bonding process in the home setting. Our bond is growing day by day, and homeschooling continues to be a major part of that.

Here are some articles I read and bookmarked as we began this journey. If you are adopting, and have the ability or inclination to homeschool, I highly encourage you to think about it. It's awesome. And I believe it's a gift. One for which I remain so thankful.

Homeschooling the Older, Adopted Child

Parenting in the Home School: Homeschooling Adopted and Traumatized Kids

Homeschooling The Internationally Adopted Child Part 1, Part 2, Part 3


Daisy said...

Oh Cyndi, I love this post. Thank you so much for sharing. What an encouragement, even to me, and I've haven't even adopted! I'm so inspired by you and your family, and your homeschooling journey, to see how something so opposite the mainstream turns out to be a huge blessing even in your unique situation.

ps Whenever I read your posts I'm inspired to be a better mom.

Tricia said...

Cyndi, this is a beautiful post. My eyes fill with tears as I read through this. I love adoption. I love how God sets the lonely in families. I love how you are committed to doing what Minte needs and not necessarily what the world says or what other friends say. I am filled with awe and wonder every time I look at Minte. Every time. Your family inspires me.

Alycia said...

Such a beautiful post Cyndi! Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. May God continue to bless your precious family in this New Year!! I am so encouraged by reading your posts and just wanted to share that with you this morning.

Anonymous said...

Can I just tell you what a huge treasure of information your blog is!? I was googling for ESL and found you! We are adopting an 11 yr. old boy from China and I want to homeschool him and will need to teach him english. I was getting a little panicky because I started running out of ideas on what and where to look. Your blog is like a treasure trove to me! Thank you and many blessings! ptl!


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