Monday, March 31, 2014

First Week at a New School

Congratulations to our three little guys finishing their first week at the Beijing International Bilingual Academy! We recently shared the graduation ceremony that we had for Gong, Shu, and Yang, and now we get to share a little bit about how their first few days went at BIBA.

On their first day, the boys headed to school proudly wearing the school bags they'd received at their Little Flower Graduation. They experienced that familiar combination of nervousness and excitement one gets when faced with the prospect of attending a new school, meeting new people, and making new friends. What would their classmates and teachers be like?

Maria, their Little Flower teacher, and Group Educational Foster Care Manager Ruth accompanied the boys to BIBA for their first day.

They went through those big front gates excitedly, greeting a few friendly teachers along the way.

Their teachers welcomed them and introduced them to the rest of their class.

At the Little Flower Early Education Center, Yang was always at the center of attention. He's a very outgoing kid, brimming with self-confidence. On that first day, though, while things were still taking a little getting used to, Yang stayed close to Maria, who was there to help the boys acclimate to their new surroundings. We're sure that with enough support and encouraging words, Yang will be back to his old self in no time.

In English class, as expected, the boys found it a bit difficult to follow the class. Though they do know some English, their level is a bit behind their new classmate's. But they're all very diligent boys, and make progress each day. Eventually, their hard work will help them fill in that gap!

On the Thursday of that first week was their first opportunity to go on an outing with their classes, which was a very happy occasion. It was a sports outing that included tag and ball games. Our three boys loved it! The other kids helped Shu and Gong with their wheelchairs. They were just part of the team!

Of course, questions from their inquisitive classmates are inevitable. Kids are naturally curious!

"Are you an orphan?" one classmate asked Gong.

Gong turned to this new classmate and said, "Well, I was an orphan, but not anymore. I have a family now."

Gong, who is part of Chunmiao Little Flower's Group Educational Foster Care program, is of course talking about his foster parents and siblings in Little Flower GEFH #2. Here's a recent photo of Gong with his foster mom, big sister Mao, and little brother Yi:

It just makes everyone here at Little Flower so proud to be able to provide loving homes and supportive families for these kids with special needs.

Overall, the boys' attendance at BIBA seems to be working well thus far. The teachers are working to integrate them as much as possible into classes and to bring them up to speed on some of the things they need to work on.

We're keen to see how the cooperation develops and progresses over the next weeks.  

Congratulations to Gong, Shu, and Yang on making it through your first week at international school!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

All About Colors

At the school recently, the kids have been learning about the color spectrum!
The school is a pretty colorful place, after all.
Whether it's working with colorful beads...

Or bright clay!

Qiang puts together a map puzzle, where each Chinese province is marked with a different color. Not an easy job!

Shan works on his geometry with colorful shapes.

To introduce this fascinating subject, one of the Little Flower teachers taught the kids about color mixing. She started by arranging several glasses of water and adding yellow, red, and blue dye.  

With those three base primary colors, she mixed them in different combinations to show them the effects. The kids were totally mesmerized.

One day, volunteer Linda came and read the children the story of the “rainbow fish," a story about a little fish with shiny and sparkling scales, who learns about sharing and friendship. Needless to say, everyone enjoyed it immensely.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Featured Volunteer: Linda

Today, we're spotlighting a volunteer at our Early Education Center: Linda. We recently sat down with her to ask her some questions. Check out the interview below!

Hi Linda! Where are you from?

I am from Hamburg, Germany. Actually, I am originally from Kunming, China. I came to Germany as a five-year-old orphan myself, and was adopted by a German family.

What kind of work are you doing at Little Flower?

I am volunteering for four weeks at the Early Education Center as an English teacher. I essentially work at the school all day. I spend one hour per day with the group of older kids, and I prepare a new lesson plan for each day.
My favorite activities to do with the children include crafts, drawing, and singing – all in English of course!  I really try to encourage the kids to speak English. We did a lot of Origami and drawing. I wanted to work on inspiring children to use their own creativity.
The rest of the day I do individual work with children, and support them with their daily learning.

What were you doing before you came here?

Well, I am currently at university in Germany. I am studying special needs education and will earn my master’s degree in two years. While traveling, I met someone from the Little Flower school by chance! That's how I first got in contact with Little Flower.

Tell us more about your outlook on Special Education. 

In Germany, children with special needs are integrated as much as possible into ordinary schools. There is a country-wide project going on right now. In China, the separation is a little too big, while in Germany, the integration may be moving a bit too fast. I'm learning form both experiences in both countries.       

What do you think about our Little Flower students' English levels, and how are they progressing?

At the school, it's great to see the effort from each of the children. Their English level isn't yet conversational, but after my second week, they began to become more and more confident, approaching me with questions and asking for help!

What are your thoughts on the children you have met here at the Little Flower Early Education Center?

I am astonished at how self-independent all the children are. I really can feel the love that all the staff at the school have for the children!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Graduation Day

Last Friday was a big day at the Little Flower Early Education Center: A Graduation Day! It seems a bit odd to have a graduation ceremony in March, but we are so excited to tell you all about three of our children who are moving on from our Early Education Center: Shu, Yang, and Gong. These boys have recently been accepted to Beijing International Bilingual Academy (BIBA), and to celebrate this transition, we had a big graduation ceremony, including poems, gifts and even special graduation clothes!

All three boys have been with Little Flower since they were very little, and are now part of our Little Flower foster families in Group Educational Foster care. Yang even used to be in hospice care – look at where he is today! This energetic kid is often the bounciest, most animated student in the room. 

The graduation ceremony took place in the afternoon, beginning with a presentation of diplomas in the classroom, and then a reception outside. When it began, the boys’ classmates assembled and waited patiently for the graduates to arrive on the stage.

Look at those proud faces! Yang is on the right. He’s a great artist with a good eye for color, and always demonstrates amazing focus and concentration in class. Shu is in the left. As one of the older and bigger kids in class, he has a lot of confidence. Gong is in the middle. He always strives to be a model student. In school, he likes to make sure the other students are following the teachers’ instructions.

The integration of Gong, Yang and Shu into BIBA’s classes is an experiment for both Little Flower and BIBA. Both sides want to learn from these cases, and hopefully it will end in a long-term cooperation between BIBA and Little Flower. Many of our kids in Group Educational Foster Care also attend public school.

In addition to their certificate, they each received a new school bag—the perfect gift for starting a new school.

The entire class gathered for a group picture to remember this special day.

After the ceremony, the classmates gathered outside for pictures and the traditional “throwing of the graduation cap!” It’s been getting warmer here in Beijing as spring rolls around the corner, and the kids enjoyed getting out into the fresh air to continue their celebration.

They took some more photos and threw their caps!

Congratulations graduates! They start at their new school on Monday. We know they’ll do great!