The first area is his personality. Back in January, I turned in my resignation so that I could homeschool him. I wanted to make sure to slow his world so that he bonded well with the family before pushing him into the American lifestyle of running from the early morning until late at night. The first few months of Matthew being in America, this calmer lifestyle worked out really well. He had a chance to learn about American culture and also how our family works together to function as a unit. He has bonded really well with our family and definitely takes an active part in being a family member. However, as time goes by we realize that he very much needs to stay busy. He takes teasing to a whole new level. He takes "active, all-boy" beyond any other boy I've ever met. He cannot be idle at all or he will get himself into trouble. He completely exhausts me as I try to keep him busy and active. Honestly he could probably use 10 adults to tag team all day long to keep him busy. His energy level COULD be a wonderful quality since he LOVES to help out and would be a wonderful worker on a farm or in a lawn mowing business. It's just not easy to find people who need a 12-year-old boy to help out. It is just tiring keeping him busy 24/7 because I don't have a whole lot of hands-on work around the house to keep him busy. Anyway, it's nice because of his active personality, the American lifestyle is perfect for him! So as a result we are confident he is ready to enter traditional American school this Fall.
The second area is his education. Anyone that has worked with a stereotypical European boy realizes European boys do not value education as being necessary. In their minds men work with their hands and they do not study. School is for girls. Trying to get an excessively active boy to sit still and learn is A LOT harder than it sounds. Add to that, he has never been taught to memorize. This is a problem. Everything about American school requires memorization. Retraining his mind to read English letters when his mind is still thinking Ukrainian Cyrillic is hard. I've worked with his learning style to get him up to reading at a 1st grade level and he also knows through the 4 times tables. He still really struggles with basic math concepts such as addition, subtraction and multiplication. The +, - and X all mean different things and he struggles to differentiate between any of those symbols. He's definitely a bright boy. He just needs a gifted teacher who can really motivate him to want to learn. If someone can get him to WANT to learn, the sky is the limit because he is passionate about anything he does. He always wants to be the best at everything. That force to be the best makes him unstoppable. It's just tapping into his own mindset that school is in his best interest, and it is not only for girls.
As we've learned over 5 months a bit about his personality and education mindset we've been praying where to send him to school. The private school that Brandon went to is really great with loving on children and things like that, but it has no resources to teach English as a 2nd language. The 2nd private school we looked at near our house considered taking him, but they wanted to put him in 2nd grade. Matthew is 12. He does NOT belong in 2nd grade. Yes, his education level is 1st-2nd grade, but his body is still 12. He acts like a 12-year-old. He needs to play with other 12-year-old boys or he could seriously injure the other children. He does not know his own strength. Not to mention he takes being in 2nd grade as a put-down, or a punishment. He does not deserve to feel punished just because he does not understand English, and has never been taught to learn properly. I talked a bit with Tim's aunt, who retired from teaching in the public school system, and she gave me the confidence to go talk with the neighborhood public school. This was a big step for me, because I've always heard every bad thing you can think of about public school and how it will destroy a quality child. I've always heard quotes like, "If you send him to Caesar's school, don't be surprised if they turn out like Caesar."
Let me tell you, from the moment I walked through the doors of that public middle school, I was impressed. I was introduced to the principal, counselors and ESL teachers. Tim and I truly had a peace about enrolling him in public school. They placed him in 7th grade and he visited the school and is VERY excited about going there. I've never seen him so excited about SCHOOL. He also knows some of the boys that attend there because he's active in our neighborhood and he played soccer for the recreation center with several boys who go to this middle school. He generally makes friends very easily. He's definitely NOT a shy boy, and has no problems in the confidence area.
We enrolled him this past Thursday. Friday was July 4th holiday. Monday morning received a call from the head of the County's ESL program. This head had reserved a free laptop with English Rosetta Stone installed on it for Matthew to use indefinitely. He enrolled him in a week-long ESL reading summer camp. Matthew is also signed up to get whatever testing for an IEP during this camp. This head of ESL was SO kind to explain all the ins and outs of the ESL program and treated me like royalty. I was impressed that he'd read up on Matthew's profile that'd I'd only filled out this past Thursday. All the teachers and counselor's knew about him already were calling him by his name, and recognized that he was from Ukraine. They gave Matthew a bunch of books in Ukraine/English, dictionaries, websites with reading/math games, and lots of other resources. The head gave me his business card and told me if we had ANY problems or concerns whatsoever with his care at his middle school to give him a call and he'd take care of the concern.
This week Matthew is away with Haley at a Christian Summer Camp. It was such a blessing that an anonymous someone paid his way to camp so that he could go learn about God and also be fully immersed in English. If they had not done that for him, we would not have been able to send him to camp this year. He was excited to go, but nervous because he didn't really know any of the other boys attending. I was proud of him for being brave and going even though so much was unknown for him or unfamiliar to him.
It is SO neat to me to see how God is working out the details in Matthew's life and in the rest of our family. My nerves are settled as far as him attending public school with over 2,000 kids. Matthew is excited. It is neat to see him trusting us as his parents to care for him and make good decisions on his behalf. It's neat to see his confidence and bravery. We are praying that he really takes off this year with his learning and maturity. We look forward to watching his growth! We are SO proud of how far he's come in only 5 months! He is an active bundle of JOY! God is good!
|This boy can hoolahoop for 3 minutes straight without stopping, eat an snow-ball popcycle treat, AND yap a mile a minute. Who says men can't multi-task?|
|Matthew & Haley ready for summer camp!|
|Ready to go away for the week! (I'm more nervous than they are!)|