Halfway across the world, there is a little boy waiting for me to come and BE HIS MOTHER.
Friends, this takes my breathe away every time the thought pops in my head. It gives me butterflies and goosebumps. It brings tears to my eyes. I get to be his Momma. Forever. How lucky am I?
Anyway, all this back-to-school business of course leaves us wondering about his schooling. We have very little knowledge of his academic background or lack thereof. We know he's part of an American run preschool program at his orphanage, which is good. But he's years past preschool age, so we're not sure what's gone on since then.
Often kiddos in orphanages don't go to public school, in part because of the lack of acceptance of kids with special needs by the general public. Many times older children like Zhao Yu come home with very little schooling at all. From the information we've been given, it sounds like he is not able to read in Mandarin, which can be indicative of his lack of schooling. Does he even know his shapes, colors? Or maybe he'll blow us away by all he knows! We have a lot to learn before we can decide where to proceed on making decisions for his schooling here.
Generally when older kids come home, they need time to get acclimated, bond well with us, and figure out this whole new life before schooling is even considered. Some kids are ready to go to school within a couple of months, others need a year or more. Many are home schooled for a while, until they have a better foundation for school. We are taking the wait-and-see approach before we make any decisions. Our school district has been very supportive of us, and they have a team ready and waiting to get to know him and help ease him into school when we think he's ready.
Another decision we'll have to make is grade level. He's 8, so based on age he could do 2nd or 3rd grade. We know 3rd is not an option for him. Second grade is a possibility, but we are also entertaining the idea of putting him into first grade to give him a strong academic foundation, especially if there isn't one. It's very common for children who are adopted at an older age to be placed a couple of grade levels below so that they can feel successful in school. We know he's very small for his age, and likely delayed in pretty much every way due to his life experiences so far. So we'll see. One thing we are planning to do is have him evaluated academically in his native language, which is Mandarin. We'll do that fairly quickly before his original language starts to fade. Hopefully that will give us a better idea of how to handle his schooling for now.
Lots of mysteries to solve! Being a former teacher, I'm especially curious about this particular aspect of getting to know him. Three weeks from today he'll be in our arms and we can start to get to know our sweet son!