There are rustlings going on around this house, my house, rustlings that whisper the end of summer, the beginning of autumn, and the start of a new school year.
We’ve never had the part about the school year before because our kids were too young.
But adopting a child who is 5 years older than our oldest biological child throws us into a whole new stage of parenting.
We’ve talked about the options. Public school. Private school. Charter school. Homeschool. Boarding school (no, not really that last one)
At least for this year, homeschool is our choice for many reasons. I’ll list the top 5:
- Attachment. Angelina does not have a secure attachment with us yet and honestly has a lot of hallmark signs of potentially developing an attachment disorder to some degree or another. Sending her off to spend the best hours of her day in a classroom with a teacher could derail her attachment process with her new family.
- Language. Being adopted, moving to a new country, starting school AND not knowing the language all happening within the course of 2 months does not sit well with us. Maybe next Fall, when Angelina has had an entire year to absorb English, we will consider other options.
- Peers. So Angelina does not look or act like her peers. Yes, schools have become a lot more diverse with kids with varying abilities being able to be in the standard classroom and I do think kids are more considerate of all abilities now, but that does not make the difference vanish, especially when considering a sensitive girl like Angelina. While YOU might be saying there is really not big difference, she still feels it acutely. She uses a wheelchair, has a tendency to act like a four year old, and looks like a mini 16 year old. There is no way, nooooooo way, she would be in the right frame of mind to learn when she is sitting in a room comparing all her differences to the kids around her.
- Foundations. At 9 years old Angelina would be entering school at a 4th grade level, maybe 3rd grade if the school allowed. Even if she had an IEP and aid, she is not at a 3rd or 4th grade level in anything. I mean such basics that I had no idea to be on the lookout for these things. How to manipulate a dinner knife to cut food, how to hold a book, which way to turn the pages in a book, how to cut with scissors, how to color in a coloring book, spatial reasoning to do 3 year old level puzzles, being aware that there is such a thing as a week or month. Now I do believe she is capable of learning these skills, she has made incredible strides with her fine motor, motor processing, and attention span since coming home, but not enough to excel in a standard classroom setting yet. We need to build on these basics before pursuing other options.
- Play. Children adopted from Angelina’s country out of institutions generally don’t know how to play. I’d read about that before we even started the adoption process, but it did not sink for me in until we brought her here to our playful home which is bursting at the seems with creative play, and I watched her sit in the middle of the living room rocking back and forth to while away the time of day as her sisters played around her. Slowly she is learning from her younger siblings how to play pretend, how to “cook” in the kitchen, serve tea parties to mommy and stuffed animals, build with blocks, thread wooden beads, paint with watercolors, dig in the dirt, shape sand in the sandbox, and mold playdough. Children do not play to learn, but the learn while they play.
We can’t go back and make up for those lost years of abuse and neglect, but we can allow Angelina to play at the developmental stage her brain needs to create positive neural pathways to hopefully heal and overcome her past. Play is integral for all the other areas listed above. Neurons that fire together wire together (gosh I’m such a nerd) and playful experiences enhance neuroplasticty which in turn helps with positive attachment, language, self esteem, motor planning and more. Maybe I’ll tell your more about our what our homeschool year looks like, maybe I won’t get around to it, no promises on that front, but I can give you a glimpse of our homeschool days already because it’s what we do naturally.