I got an email today from a mom in the process of adopting a sibling group of older kids and hoping to homeschool. She wondered what kinds of resources I might suggest. I thought I’d share my answer here in case others were also in this situation.
There are so many possible ways to homeschool, and to do it well. As you are starting out, you won’t really know lots about your kids’ learning styles and abilities. So plunge in with something that seems reasonably simple and don’t worry too much. Just get to know your kids and gradually see how learning goes.
At first I would plan to spend lots of time just living and doing things together with lots of talk along the way. Cook together, play games, go for walks, etc. Any type of conversation will help them learn English. Keep the school very simple: reading/phonics, handwriting, and math is plenty, in very short spells, probably totaling no more than 1-3 hours a day for the first 6-12 months.
In afternoons for an hour or so, you can turn on PBS or educational videos with captions turned on. This will help in their language learning. And it will also give you some down time, which most likely you will desperately need, with the arrival of several kiddos at once.
Definitely get a phonics program with lots of pictures. That way you can work on names and letter sounds at the same time. Timberdoodle is a great homeschooling website, and gives good descriptions of various programs. Remember, with any homeschool curriculum purchasing, you’ll want to find things that seem workable for YOU as a parent, as well as being a match for your kids’ abilities. Most likely that will take some trial and error.
If your kids have already had some school in Ethiopia, they will be familiar with learning things by repetition, and may not be at all familiar with things like story problems, or even know enough English to work them for awhile. Math workbook pages that have only numbers will give them something familiar if they have done some school in Ethiopia– you can print off all sorts of them at websites like this: http://www.superteacherworksheets.com/addition.html
After a year or so of learning English, you may enjoy letting them use a math program like Teaching Textbooks. It is computer based and allows kids to listen to instructions as many times as needed before doing problems. Kids type answers into the computer and the computer grades the work and stores it in a gradebook for you to look at later.
I think one of the biggest things to keep in mind is that it is going to take a good long time to get proficiency in English, somewhere between 3 and 7 years from the research I’ve read. So patience and realistic expectations are important. A book that I’ve enjoyed that might help with balance and perspective in tough moments is The Successful Homeschool Family. I found a lot of wisdom there for teaching any child, but especially those who for whatever reason are learning at a different pace than ‘average’.
Now, readers, it’s your turn. I know I’ve got lots of homeschoolers AND lots of adoptive parents here. Will you also share your wisdom on this topic?
PS–Check out this post full of free homeschooling ideas!