baby steps and giant leaps

November 1, 2013 heart defect, hypospadias, Kam, Urogenital System 3 Comments

I’m not sure if I’ve posted here before about the long and winding road we walk with our Joel in regards to education. In a nutshell, Joel came home to us at age 3 having spent his life in an orphanage. He was not speaking Thai at all and we were told by his pediatrician there that he would endure significant speech delays but that cognitively he was holding his own. We homeschool our kids in a hybrid type way. They attend private school on M/W each week. They are taught all subjects by degreed teachers. We carry out home assignments given by those teachers on T/T/F. They will graduate from an accredited high school {one that scores above the national average}, have transcripts and guidance counselors and the works. But I get to have them home with me three days a week and am not responsible for curriculum choice or benchmarks being met or any of the stuff that scares the daylights out of moms like me!

Last year was TOUGH. Joel was grossly speech delayed. He has been in therapy for three years for language help. It’s worked wonders. Still, he has far to go. Kindergarten was a huge struggle for us because he had never had to sit for 3 hours to do work {even off and on} throughout a day, his speech hindered his ability to learn to read, our 18 month old Little Prince came home from China in September during the third week of school, etc. It was a true labor of love getting this boy through Kindergarten.

We struggled and lamented and prayed for months about whether to retain Joel rather than allowing him to go on to 1st grade. Every week, we made a decision and by the weekend, had changed it. My mind was on overload and my heart was aching. I so didn’t want to make a poor choice for him. And my husband looked to me for more insight on the decision since it was I who spent three days a week schooling him. We met with his teacher, an administrator and others for wise counsel.

In the end, we decided to promote.

And I held my breath all summer long.

We’ve still had hard days. But by and large, this year has been worlds better than last. He struggles in reading, and is in the lowest group; and learning to count by 2’s and 5’s has taken years off of our lives…I’m sure of it! However, I told my best friend, I know that Joel will not be a 20 year old walking around and not able to count by 5’s. Eventually, it will click. Surely, surely, it will click.

Last week, his reading teacher stopped in to tell me {I work at the school}, that she had just done Joel’s benchmark testing for the end of the first quarter. I sucked my gut in, held my breath and waited. To my relief, she informed me that he had improved and had advanced a level in reading! Oh my, ya’ll. This was huge.

All summer, I kept telling myself, “as long as there is positive movement, as long as he doesn’t stagnate or regress…I’m going to just go with it and be grateful.” But he advanced a level! WaaaaHoooo!!!

As if that weren’t enough, his math teacher stopped me in the copy room to say how much she adores Joel. How she is so impressed by how hard he is working…how hard he is trying to improve. I mentioned that we are working hard and that I hope it will begin paying off for our sweet boy. She was so validating…reminding me of all Joel had been through, of where he came from. She spoke of the stark disadvantage that he began with as opposed to all of the other 1st graders in his class. I knew all of this, of course, but it did my heart good to hear that she knew it too. Not to make him a victim or to dismiss his ability or lack thereof. But just to “get it.”

Then, on a random home day, Joel told me that he could do his math problems by himself. I was hesitant, and honestly doubtful, but wanted to let him try. Imagine my joy y’all….


Tears welled up and I had that familiar lump catch in my throat.

We aren’t where we want to be, but we certainly aren’t where we were. Sometimes, those seemingly small steps our children take are actually giant leaps!

3 responses to “baby steps and giant leaps”

  1. mesphe says:

    Really loved this! Very encouraging.

  2. Brandi says:

    Thank you! My son came home at three. His delays were severe, especially speech. I so appreciate reading this. Jack just started kindergarten. You are giving me hope.

  3. Kam says:

    Yay to both of you! I always think I come across as a complete moron here!…but we made it! I’m so proud of Joel. He still struggles!…but he’s working so hard. And it’s paying off in huge ways! Thank you!

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