I have two children and they are the inspiration for this blog. My son, Jacob, is 6 1/2 and my daughter, Rosa, is almost 5. Both of my children are special learners for completely different reasons. We adopted Jacob when he was two years old from our state foster care system. He had lived with a very loving foster family from the time he was a small baby until we were able to adopt him. He has always been a bright but extremely active little boy. ADHD runs on both sides of his biological family.
My challenge with Jacob has been how to cultivate a love of learning in a child who has a hard time sitting still. I am happy to report that Jacob is doing very well academically in our homeschool program, loves to be read to, and is practically addicted to audio chapter books. He has a wonderful imagination and a great ability to create and build things, especially out of legos or knex.
We adopted our daughter, Rosa, from China a year ago last month and she has presented completely different learning challenges. Rosa lived in an orphanage until she was two years old and then a foster home until we adopted her at almost four years of age. An orphanage is certainly not an ideal place for a child to grow and develop. In addition, our daughter's foster family loved and cared for her but did not provide a very stimulating environment. When she came to us at almost four year's old, she did not know how to play with toys, hold or draw with a crayon or pencil, or do many things that an almost four year old should be able to do. She had little to no interest in books. When she first came home she would go and sit by herself on our couch and do nothing if we were not interacting with her. We knew she had delays before adopting her and were prepared to do whatever was necessary to help her catch up. Rosa is also blind in one eye and has some visual processing issues as well as fine motor delays. She didn't speak a single word of English when we adopted her and we spoke only a very limited amount of Mandarin.
One year later you would not believe how far Rosa has come. She has a large vocabulary of English words. She knows almost all of her letters, can count to 13, knows many colors, shapes, and letter sounds. She can write her name and cut things out with scissors. She loves to dance, sing songs, and listen to music. She greatly enjoys being read to now and we often catch her sitting somewhere looking through a pile of books.
After returning from China, I started out reading her board books for babies. Since Rosa's vocabulary and attention span were very limited, these were the only books that held her attention. I did what most parents with babies do and read her the same board books over and over. Her first favorite book was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Eric Carle. Now that Rosa has a pretty good grasp of English and a better attention span, she likes to be read picture books that are geared to her age level.
That is a little about my two special learners. They have both challenged me and I have to keep reminding myself what my bigger goals for them are. I will be posting more about them as this blog progresses and about how I have addressed and continue to address their special learning needs while nurturing their love of learning.
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