This has been a transitional month for Matthew. Prior to this month he was at home and basically playing all day. This is the first month where he has had to get up every morning and spend 7 hours at school each day. He actually seems to thoroughly enjoy school. He doesn't come home exhausted like Brandon used to back when he attended private school. I swear Matthew has an eternal dose of energy and is rarely tired out.
I'm not sure what all the school is working on as far as ESL. We try to ask Matthew, but he jabbers on and on about anything and everything except what he's learning at school. I have yet to receive an email from any of the teachers of his latest team working with him in 6th grade. I assume if there was a problem, someone would be contacting us.
When he gets home every afternoon, I have him listen to some phonics pronunciation cds and then I have him read to me for about an hour. He can read maybe 3 pages in a full hour in a 1st grade reader. He's being tested now at school to see if he has a learning disability or if it's more behavioral, but he's not improving with his reading much at all. He still struggles with what sounds each letter makes. His orphanage director told us over and over how smart he was so maybe the public school is correct that it is behavioral. Maybe it is a different cultural opinion of what "smart" is. I know a lot of the work in the orphanage was just copying word for word what was written on the black board. There wasn't a whole lot of memorization. I've read a lengthy thread in an adoption forum that said, "Until you can convince an older Ukrainian boy that an education will benefit HIM, you will be hard pressed to get him to do anything." Probably 20 or 30 families agreed with that statement and elaborated that culturally Ukraine boys do not see a value in education.
This is just one of those things that a lot of adoptive parents struggle with regarding their older adopted children. We don't know how hard to push him, but he needs to be pushed. Matthew has high hopes of being a sniper in the US Air Force when he turns 18. The problem is, he HAS to graduate high school in order to enlist in the Air Force. They no longer accept the GED for the US Air Force. However, if he is 12 now and not even able to read, he is really going to have to work hard in the next 5.5 years to fit everything he needs to in order to graduate. So, dear friends and family, if you could pray that a light bulb goes off soon that would be wonderful!
In the meantime, we are enjoying this spark of energy! This past weekend I went on a date with just him to go see a movie. It was the first time I got to go out with just him so it was special. He was dying to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. He absolutely loved that movie. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the movie as well. We had popcorn and slushies. Afterward we went to a restaurant to have delicious sub sandwhiches, which was what he requested. It was so much fun and a great time of bonding.
If any of my fellow adoptive parents have an creative ideas for us to help him learn his phonics or any parents of boys who have ideas on how to motivate a 12-year-old boy to learn, we are open to suggestions. Feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.