Monday, June 28, 2010

Schooling Older Adoptees: What Doesn't Work

I was surprised, but also encouraged by how many adoptive moms who could relate to my struggles schooling my adoptees. One commenter in particular asked if I knew anything that worked. That really got me thinking. Actually, yes I have learned a little of what works and what doesn't. I'm going to start this two-parter with what doesn't work.
I am a big believer in the Better Late Than Early research that basically says: Don't bother spending 6 hard months trying to teach a concept to a child who will pick it up in a few days when they're developmentally ready. I figured this would be to my advantage with my (school-age) adoptees, who were 9 and 6 at the time of adoption. Not so. Because their English vocabularies were so small, they had a lot of catching up to do (that they are definitely still doing). Although Maya was 9 when she joined our family and was physically capable of things far beyond her age, her developmental maturity was more on the level of a preschooler.
Better Late Than Early is a concept that works wonders for children whose parents have been cooing and talking to them from the start, who have been well-nourished by breastmilk and good solid foods, who have had books read to them over and over again. These children are way ahead of the game regardless of when their schooling starts. If they don't start math until they're 10, they'll pick it up so fast they'll be caught up to their schooled peers within a year. The same cannot be said of older adoptees. It takes more patience.
More on what does work later.

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