Jan 28, 2015

Public School and the Older Adopted Child

Navigating the public school system with an older adopted child is extremely difficult especially for a child with little schooling.

In Feb 2014, we decided to place Joseph (age 12) into the 5th grade.  Actually, we didn't have a choice.  The school board wanted to place him into middle school, but we knew he was no where emotionally ready for 6th grade, let alone academically.

He didn't speak any English and we knew that he came from a background that relied heavily on memorization.  He could read "some" English, but had no idea how to blend those sounds, nor did he understand what he was reading.

We knew that very little schooling would happen that year, but he would learn socially from the other children.  He picked up English fast and by the end of the school year he had mastered conversational English with a very heavy accent.

Summer came and went and we fought hard to have him repeat 5th grade again.  We were met with a fight by our local school board, but eventually they agreed with us that another year in elementary school would be best.

Sadly, our public school system has a very weak ESOL/ESL program.  Internationally adopted children are not your typical ESL students.  They do not go home and speak their native tongues.  Many of the resources are for students that are bilingual.  Our kids quickly dump their language as they acquire English.  It's a very difficult place emotionally esp. with an older child because they struggle to express themselves.  They have fast lost their native language and can only speak basic English.

We focused heavily on Rosetta Stone and basic math facts over the summer and saw huge gains.

Towards the end of the school year, i stumbled upon this website:

I spent the next few months researching how to navigate the public school system, esp one that was clueless with children that were adopted internationally.

I'll will share more next time.