6 months home

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Jude has now been with us for 6 months. She hasn’t really done much physical growing from last month. She saved it all for her development this month.

We decided from the start to homeschool Jude. However her first year+ home would be an informal “unschooling” approach until we introduce a formal preschool cirriculum next September. The primary focus has been to get Jude used to family life here and work on her social and language acquisition skills before introducing academics. However, if she did take an interest in something we would of course foster that.

She wants to learn her “ABCs”. She decided about 2-3 weeks ago that she wanted to know the letters of the alphabet. Mostly she has been drilling them into her own head and looking for the ones she knows when we read stories. Right now she can recognize 8 letters.

She wanted to learn all her colors. And she has pretty much accomplished this. We’ve noticed that sometimes she calls a bright blue or a bright pink “purple” but otherwise she now identifies them all correctly.

She wanted to learn to count a little. She can now count to 3.

She can read 1 word: Disney. At first I thought it was just that she could recognize the font, but when it is handwritten or typed she can seek out and identify the word. (I’m in trouble).

Her English language has exploded. I cannot even begin to count how many words she knows. She mostly speaks in 2-3 word sentences. Although sometimes she says much longer ones and has actually said a few complete grammatically correct sentences now.

She can sing several nursery rhyme songs.

She is potty training. It is slow going, but she is determined and she self-initiated wanting to do this. She uses the toilet 25-50% of the time now. No little baby potties for her. She rather would get a step stool and use a flush toilet.

Quite suddenly all of our unbelievably difficult bedtime issues have vanished. It takes 2 stories and 5 minutes to tuck her in. She (naturally) may not fall asleep right away but she doesn’t cry unless something is truly wrong and she doesn’t fuss about it anymore. I honestly thought I would would be treated for chronic exhaustion before this day came.

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Life has a rhythm to it now.

Here’s what I learned though:

Co-sleeping absolutely helped. Until it absolutely didn’t. Recognizing when it was time to move on from the attachment benefits of co-sleeping to the better sleep that having Jude sleep in her own bed was tricky and I didn’t get it right.

Holding my child and trying the “time-in” approach through tantrums didn’t work. In fact, it was making a bad situation a million times worse. Maybe this works for somebody but it was 110% wrong for us. Ignoring the tantrums and recognizing good behavior has been far and away more effective. That said, the adoptions books were right in that “time-outs” didn’t work either. Our best bet has been to avoid the behaviors in the first place.

Babywearing Jude helped on pickup trip only. Have a backup plan if you plan on babywearing a toddler. I heard someone describe it as attempting to strap a cat to themselves. It was a very accurate description of what we went through with Jude starting in July. I now own a wagon to cart her around the neighborhood when the weather is nice.

Children’s memories can be totally inaccurate. My daughter will see a photo of her foster mother and identify her as myself. Even when it is plain that I bear no physical resemblance to Jude’s foster mother she no longer can distguish between the two of us in her memory (even if I correct her she will tell me that I am wrong). While I gently say that it is Jude’s Layli and not me, I don’t argue with her. I’m not sure if there is anything more correct to do about it.

Keeping Jude’s care within the family has been difficult to cooridinate at times but has been ultimately the right decision. I didn’t coocoon with Jude. However I have kept all her daycare to her grandparents and my sister in her first 6 months. When I went back to work she never had separation anxiety as a result and as it has been easier to communicate ground rules in a small group she has had consistency that she wouldn’t have had otherwise.

It has been a roller-coaster 6 months. But I feel that we are settling in.

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