Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Schooling Older Adoptees: What Works

A few weeks ago, I asked other adoptive moms of Liberians what their experience has been with teaching their adoptees to read. I was shocked by the responses. Without fail, they all said that their child learns a bit, then hits a plateau, then eventually makes progress again. These plateaus can be really long sometimes as the child's vocabulary catches up to all that they are learning. It does no good to know how to sound out "suddenly" if you have no idea that it's actually a word. (Ask me how I know.)

With older adoptees, slow and steady wins the race. What has helped with reading is utilizing several different types of instruction. We do phonics decoding practice with Explode the Code, reading practice with Pathway Readers and chapter books, spelling and phonics practice with All About Spelling (thank you so much, Angie, this program is fabulous!), and auditory training with Earobics. Most importantly, they are always reading or having a book read to them. Audio books are wonderful for building vocabulary in non-readers!
One of the biggest problems with phonics for my Liberians is that they can't hear the difference between certain vowel sounds (/a/ and /i/ sound the same, and /o/ and /u/ are confused). This is due to their dialect. Auditory training has proven very helpful with this issue.

When it comes to math, Maya and Isaac are both able to follow the formulas, but have a hard time learning the facts because it is still too abstract for them. That is, they can do the math, but they don't understand it fully. So we do a little math every day. I hand them a worksheet and set the timer for 20 minutes. They stop when the timer beeps, not when the page is complete. Daily practice is the goal; I don't care how long it takes to finish a book. Slow and steady.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kids Ain't So Funny

The big kids have started figuring out how to tell jokes. They were telling knock-knock jokes back and forth, so I told Elena this one:

Pete and Repeat were in a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left? [Repeat]

Pete and Repeat were in a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?

I repeated it three times before Kyle stopped me to explain it to her. LOL!

So, now all the kids are trying to make up their own version.

Hit and Hit Me were in a boat. . .

Kiss and Kiss Me were in a boat. . .

And then Daniel and Lydia wanna get in on the action:

Hair and No Hair were in a boat. No Hair fell out. Who was left in?

Oh my. Kyle and I looked at each other and laughed, unfortunately not for the reason Daniel thought.

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.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Don't Make This Mistake

Don't make the mistake of ending your years of fertility because it's so hard having littles. You look at big families and think: I have a hard time with just my (one, two, three), I can't imagine how they do it with all those kids!
You're forgetting one major variable in the equation. Kids grow. It was so hard when Elena and Chloe were little. Even though I only had two kids; I had no helpers. Now I have seven at home and 6 of them are helpers. Four can do almost everything I can do. And they don't groan when I ask them to change a diaper. They fight over who gets to.
While I'm nursing and cooing at my baby, four kids are doing their school work independently. (It's not all independent, but it's not all 1:1 either, like it was in Kindergarten and first grade.) I take a nap every afternoon while Julia, Daniel, and Lydia are napping. While we're all napping, the four big kids play games or "house" together. I couldn't do this when my kids were younger. My nap was totally dependent on theirs. Now, if they wake up, the big kids entertain them while I snooze on.
I don't have to figure out how to entertain two bored children while I grocery shop. I have six children who are getting groceries with me, while I read the list and keep the baby happy.
My life is easier now, not harder.

Don't quit too soon! I can attest to the many blessings you miss when you do.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

This Made Me Shudder

Matthew 24:4-5 "And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray."

John 1:8 "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."

Friday, June 11, 2010

What Do Your Kids Watch?

What do your kids watch on tv or online? What games do they play online?

Would love your opinion about this.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Christian American Dream

I've been reading this book, Radical by David Platt, and it is changing me! The big kids and I have been going through the Way of the Master basic training and as we learned that only 2% of professing Christians share their faith, we were convicted. It has become our daily prayer that God would overcome our selfish fear with compassion for the lost. Their future is eternal hell but we are too complacent to share the gospel with them. How selfish are we??

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Julia is growing up fast and it's hard on this mommy's heart! With Elena & Chloe, I couldn't wait for them to reach the next milestone, whatever that was. It was hard having two little ones and no helpers. I was in a hurry for them to grow up and get easier.

With Lydia, I enjoyed it all. I was in no hurry. I had a blast with every new thing she did.

But with Julia, I want her to SLOW DOWN! Being an older and hopefully wiser mom than I was before, many things are so much more fun. I'm more relaxed and I don't take anything for granted. I go to bed at night just thankful that I've gotten to have Julia for this long. I realize what a gift she is and how blessed I am to have her.

When Elena says: "When Julia's 10, I'll be 20!", I cover my ears and ask her never to remind me of that ever again! Please slow down, kids! I'm enjoying you all so much!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Just Clearing This Up

Two weeks ago I got really sick. Strep throat or tonsilitis. I started taking GSE immediately and by the third day all the infection was gone. But the next day, my throat started really swelling. It continued until it moved up into the roof of my mouth. Went to the doctor, who immediately referred me to an ENT. I had a "rip roaring" abscess in my throat, according to Dr. ENT. I chose to have outpatient surgery right then as I wanted to hurry up and get home to my baby. Not fun. But that's not the point of this post. I was rather entertained by how many people said:
Wow, if Ginger went to the doctor, it really must have been bad!
Now, allow me to clear something up. If you're thinking I rarely step foot in a doctor's office because I just don't trust doctors as a whole, you're right. But if you're thinking I consider doctors evil money-snatchers, you're wrong. They're not all that way. hehe
Seriously, here's my theory: If I get an earache, I'm not going to go running to the ER. But if I somehow manage to cut my ear off, and it's in a baggie, I'd go to the ER. ;)
(But rampant overuse of the ER is a whole 'nother rant which I will not begin now.)
When I go into labor, I don't head for the hospital, because I have low-risk pregnancies. If, however, I had a high-risk pregnancy, you better believe I'd go to the hospital for the birth of my baby. I definitely think midwives can do birth better, from my own experience, but I'm no idiot (well, not in this area anyway.)
I have treated ear infections and strep throat many times successfully with natural antibiotics (of which GSE is the most powerful). But this was clearly no standard throat infection. This is what doctors were made for, so to the doctor I went. And I'm happy to say that I met and was treated by not one, but two excellent doctors. A true miracle. LOL!

A cynic to the end,