Friday, August 12, 2011

I Need Advice, Please

Attention all homeschooling moms, especially those with children from China with special needs:

I'd always planned to homeschool and that is what turns out to be the optimal choice for Jie Jie even if I hadn't always planned to homeschool. Just to double-check, I telephoned the school district to see what services were available and the woman I spoke to didn't waste any time telling me that homeschooling is my best option.

So, I need some help coming up with a good curriculum. Jie Jie is 7 1/2 years old and has never been to school. She speaks mostly English, with a limited, but quickly growing, vocabulary. She sounds very clear to me, but I've discovered that it's because I'm her mom, though my assistant can understand her very easily, too.

The curriculums I looked at online depend on being able to fully understand rather complex English and read and write to a large extent. I've been looking at first grade with the intention to fill in the needed kingergarten level stuff as we go. Jie Jie would be attending 2nd grade this year if she'd been born here.

Jie Jie can recite the alphabet up to the letter "I" and gets most of the rest of the letters after that, but not in the right order yet. She easily recognizes the letter of her first name and can write her first name. She can't recognize other letters by name and it was frustrating the day I tried to get her to memorize five letters by sight. One educator suggested I focus on shapes first since that's how she views the letters. She does have some level of understanding that letters make up words, but without knowing the language, she can't do much with that information. Honestly, I was discouraged until I realized it takes bright children two or more years to learn the letters and we've just passed the four months home mark. It's hard to work on reading without knowing the alphabet.

Numbers are easier. Jie Jie is learning them practically by herself, somehow. It's hard to do math if you don't know your numbers.

Colors are coming along. I realize I need to be more diligent in our daily life pointing out colors, naming them and asking Jie Jie to repeat the color names. I have no idea if she ever learned color names in Chinese. She said she didn't color in China and I believe her by the lack of skill she had at first and how utterly skilled she is now. She LOVES to color.

She loves Play Doh, painting, essentially arts and crafts of any kind. I am going to read to her more. I read to her a lot until The Big Insurance Battle, then was simply wiped out by the end of the day from the hours and hours of being on the phone. Unless you've been through it, you can't imagine how many hours I've spent on the phone. In fact, even now, to reach a live person or the right answering machine at Kaiser takes, on average, 30 minutes.

Please point me in the right direction to creating or finding a good curriculum and/or some resources to help me get a good start. I'm looking forward to homeschooling. My Little Nugget loves to learn and is highly self-motivated.


Cristy said...

We use the ABEKA program which is phonics based and a Christian curriculum. I know many states let you use the public school curriculum on an online program that would be free to you. K-12 I think it's called.

I don't have much more advice, we've known and loved ABEKA since my boys were young.

Eliza2006 said...

As fillers for pre-k and K I love and the leapfrog letter factory dvd

Anonymous said...

I don't know if it has any programs for homeschoolers but our DD's school uses the
program for English Language Learners. It's possible you could get the info from your school system if yours is a state in the program. It does offer a kindergarten program.

They say it can take up to six years for an English Language Learner who loses their first language to become proficient
in academic & social language.

Our DD has tested proficient in all but written language and she will be home 7 years this fall.
Her school will still offer her ELL services. She still benefits from the language assistance in many of her math and science lessons.

Eliza2006 said...

come to think of it, starfall has online material, but I ordered the entire homeschool set for 2 refugee children who are from Somalia and blind. Sweet kids barely speak English, but have really caught on. Be sure to get that DVD I recommended...after a week the little 4 year old was telling me the letter sounds.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Cristy. I am homeschooling 3 of my kids this year and all have used Abeka for K5 and 1st grade. Their English and Phonics material is comprehensive and the kids began reading in no time. It gave all of my kids a very solid phonics foundation and has resulted in them also being great spellers. They loved the flashcards and visuals that went along with the curriculum. Based on your comments she would probably be ready for the K5 material and you would probably find that she can work through this and move on to the 1st grade material quickly. I switch to BJU press in 2nd grade, but am not fond of the BJU for K or 1.

Anonymous said...

hi, thanks for commenting on my blog!
did you know that ABEKA has an ESL program? it's brand new. I did a trial basis at first.
Our girls seem at such similar stages right now.
i love reading your posts!

China Dreams said...

I'm actually a teacher but also homeschooled our daughter briefly. For elementary school, I recommend the Calvert School, and for high school, I recommend The Keystone School. The first is a K-8 school with Christian curriculum and the second is a very competitive high school curriculum that can be done as a paper-based or on-line education (we did paper based because our daughter was taking history and English through them, and that involved a lot of essay writing, which she does better at on paper-she's too much of an online user to think deeply before writing that way). I would also recommend that you get her involved in the broadest base club that you can find-maybe Girl Scout/Brownies, where she will meet a variety of children at her age level. That is better than a homeschool support group for really teaching her social behavior.
Good luck!

China Dreams said...

PS-Sorry for the grammatical errors-I was hurrying :)


Karen said...

Starfall is wonderful as a fill in, our 6 year old still enjoys Starfall. She also likes and when she was younger, we used a really cute Dr Seuss ABC's interactive program for her to learn her alphabet and also help her learn to use the computer. The computer would read portions of the book Dr Seus ABCs and when she would click on the character, it would come alive and sing something silly that she would engage in. She got to choose which letter she was going to listen to next, and it would show the letter, then say the letter then the sounds it makes, then would start the interactive but short game for her to play. Loved that, and it kept her busy for a long while, dancing, singing, mocking, and clicking.

mom and girls said...

I am a first grade teacher, and know nothing about homeschooling! If possible, I would find a curriculum that let's your daughter begin with kdg. skills and work her way up.

Keep us posted how it works out. I am adopting a child who will be 9 when she gets home.