I have realized that navigating the public school system has been a completely different experience with our adopted children.
When Brenda came into our family, she was just shy of 7. We decided to place her in 1st grade (March 2013) for the remainder of the school year. Because of standardized testing in 3rd grade, we have found that there are an abundance of ESOL/ELL resources for the younger grades.
By the end of 2nd grade, she was already on grade level in both English and Math. All of this happened with very little effort on my part. She was in a classroom that was surrounded with sight words, colors, basic addition and subtraction facts and her teacher tailored her work specifically for her.
She is thriving in 3rd grade.
I was naive to think Joseph would have a similar experience.
Joseph started school in Feb 2014 at age 12. We placed him in 5th grade and we had realistic expectations. In Uganda, Joseph had minimal schooling so we knew we had lots of work ahead of us.
We took this opportunity to immerse him into American culture and he loved it. He loved recess, computers, art, music, and socializing with the other children. He joined a soccer team and we have seen his personality shine through the extracurricular activities offered through the public school system.
We knew that he was no where ready for middle school so we begged for another year in 5th grade.
We had to fight the school board for this, but eventually we all decided another year in elementary school would be in his best interest.
He is currently in 5th grade again this year.
This year (at home) we have focused on Dolch sight words, Rosetta Stone, Reading Eggs and basic math facts. He also spends time reading out loud or reading with the help of the Tag reader pen.
Highly recommend Reading Eggs!!!
In school, he is pulled out for ESOL/ELL services 3 times a week for 30 minutes a day. The rest of his day is spent in a mainstream classroom.
Our ESOL services are limited in grades 4th/5th as they focus on the younger grades because of standardized testing. Even though Joseph is a struggling reader our district offers no services for his grade, yet they offer reading camps for grades below 3rd.
This drives me nuts!
It's been a struggle to fight for the services that would allow him to succeed. Services that i know he would benefit from. I have hit road block after road block fighting for services that i know he needs.
For example, they need to test him in his native tongue to qualify for certain programs. As with most adopted children, English is his stronger language now. He does not speak his native tongue at home like most ESOL children.
Honestly, the majority of his learning happens at home, as i feel he is lost in the shuffle. The school system simply does not know how to provide the services that an internationally, older child, adoptee needs.
Do i feel he gets what he needs at school? No.
But, i also do not feel that he would thrive in a homeschool environment either. We are a work in progress navigating the public school system with an older adopted child.
This is unchartered territory with little information out there.
I have another meeting in a few days to tailor Joseph's learning plan. I will keep you tuned.