Four weeks after starting school I got a phone call that really should have been made much earlier. The school district had to test Claire's proficiency in English so they can offer services if they are needed. I was welcomed to attend so I did.
Claire was tested in four areas but definitely the hardest one was the auditory section. It was determined that Claire is just below or right at the kindergarten level of a native English speaker. To me, I think that sounds awesome. She obviously qualifies for services but we declined them. If we chose to have her be in the ESL program it meant that she would attend a different school than Emily and Matthew.
I am 99% sure ESL services would be beneficial for Claire but I've already witnessed that being in the same school as her siblings is even more beneficial. If she were our only child I would bus her to the school that offered ESL services. If ESL was offered at our home school, I would definitely have her receiving services; but it is not offered due to space issues.
I made sure that declining services now wouldn't affect the possibility of needing ESL services in the future. So, if our school does get an ESL program in the future we can have Claire start receiving services. She assured me that we can reevaluate anytime in the future and she can still receive services, if needed.
We were told by the adoption doctor that most children are fluent in age-appropriate conversational English in six months. The disconnect comes in academic English. Someone who is fluent in conversational English can have poor academic English skills. ESL works to close this gap and bring them up to grade level academic English. Since Claire will not be receiving these services at school, I will be working with her at home to try and close the gap.
It is amazing how much she has learned in only two months. She can recognize all the letters in the alphabet (upper and lowercase) and she has learned all the phonic sounds for them as well. She can sound basic words out using phonic skills and has started to read. She is starting to learn sight words and I hope to have her finished with the kindergarten sight words by the time school starts again in July.
Today on the way to school I heard one of the sweetest sounds. The kids were listening to a patriotic CD with their headphones on and I heard this tiny voice from the back of the van singing something. I listened for a bit and then realized she was singing "My Country Tis of Thee." Oh my goodness; it was so sweet. Then when the song was over she said "Emily, you know what? I like-uh America."