Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Athletes

Today, we wanted to highlight some of the talented athletes here at the baby home. Check out their moves!

It's off to the races with our first four babies, who are ready to crawl to the finish line. Here, they have all lined up at a starting line. From the left, we see Xian, Yang, Min, and Wan.

And they’re off! Yang is quite the sprinter. But Xian looks a little lost; the expression on his cherubic face seems to say: “Hey, where are they all going?”

Yang emerged victorious from that race, but no matter. Wan here looks ready to move beyond crawling races to become a race car driver!

In the field of gymnastics, Yang shows off his moves. We’re not sure whether those splits are intentional, but he does seem pretty flexible!

And here, we have Yang doing her version of the rock and roll split. She would look great with a little guitar wouldn’t she? Or maybe some cymbals.

Le is definitely one of our most flexible babies. She would be great at yoga!

Speaking of yoga, here you will notice that our little ones love to do one of our favorite yoga poses--the “happy baby pose.” It is an actual yoga pose, and our babies are experts at it.

Here, we have two little “boxers,” Da and Yun.

Last on our list is a favorite: FLYING! The little guys love to do this “Superman” pose. Xiao always does her flying pose with a big smile.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Triple Birthday

We've been working on establishing a program in our second location in Shanxi Province that's similar to our successful Group Educational Foster Care project in Beijing. There, three of the children in our new program had a birthday this week and shared a big cake with their foster parents! 

Check out the photos below:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The New Kids

We've been seeing some new faces around our school lately! That's because we have a few new children who have joined our Beijing Group Educational Foster Care Program, and they have, in turn, joined our school. Being the new kid in class can be difficult for anyone, but the Little Flower teachers have been working hard to make sure that these newcomers feel comfortable in their surroundings. The other students have helped out as well!

The first "new kid" is Li, a five-year-old girl with Down's Syndrome from GH #3. She arrived at Little Flower recently, and joined our school after just 1 week here. She's a bright, outgoing girl who loves to talk.

She does have some delays with her speech, and it can sometimes be difficult for our teachers to understand her, but that doesn't stop her from chatting with classmates and teachers alike! This is a skill that our teachers will work on with her in the coming months.

She has great concentration and is extremely curious, with a desire to explore everything around her. Naturally, this can sometimes lead her to mischief. Our teachers have reported that she tries to eat a lot of things that probably shouldn't be eaten... This, of course, led to a more thorough round of child-proofing in the classroom, where some of the smaller toys had to be put away. Li can also be rambunctious around the other students, taking off her shoes in the middle of class, or nicking food from her neighbor's lunch bowl! But no matter, the other kids have been helping to guide her in the right direction, especially the older ones.

Because we employ individualized education methods, and have kids of different ages in the same class (many of whom are foster siblings themselves!), we see a lot of big-brother/big-sister relationships at our school, with older kids helping out the younger ones.

The other new kid is Zhen, who just arrived at GH #4. He had spina bifida, and two successful surgeries in 2009. He's the most pleasant, laid-back kid you'll ever meet. He's extremely easy-going and warms up to everyone right away.

We also have a few other kids joining the school this week: two older girls and one boy. The two girls, Ling and Jia, are between 11-12 years old and recently arrived from their orphanage, where they had a small classroom but never really attended school. Because they aren't familiar with a real school environment, we decided to bring them into our Early Education Center as a sort of trial run. This will give them a chance to adjust to the daily rhythms and activities of an academic environment before transitioning to public school.

Similarly, we have Gui, a 12-year-old boy, currently living in GH#2, who started at our school on Tuesday. He's extremely shy and a little bit timid. He doesn't like big crowds or noise, and has been largely staying at home. Little by little, however, we've been trying to bring him out of his shell. The next step, of course, was to get him into school.

Because we suspect that he's had some kind of emotional trauma in his past, as well as experiences with bullying in his orphanage school, we want to create a safe, relaxing environment as he transitions back into a school environment. A few days ago, Maria, one of our teachers, visited him at home to talk about how he felt about going back to school.

She reports that he acted very much like an average teen, with some outward indifference to the situation, but that he did give her a shy smile! She told him that they would be able to start slow, with a choice between half days or full days during his first week. "When a child has experienced some kind of trauma, it's very important to let them take charge--to see that they have the power to decide what they want for themselves," Maria explains. Hopefully, Gui will be able to interact with our other two new older students, and they will be able to help each other adjust to the new environment.
Maria and the other teachers will be able to closely observe these kids, whether it's to see how they interact with other students in an academic environment, or to see what might trigger any anxiety. When asked whether or not she found it a challenge to deal with so many kids with different needs, Maria replied, "Not really. Our school focuses on individual education. Everyone has their own interests, skills, and potential. So everyone's different anyway!"

Let's hope that all of our new kids get into the swing of things very soon!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Hunt Is On!

Last Friday at our Early Education Center, the teachers planned a fun activity that involved: 1) A Cultural Lesson about Easter and 2) Chocolate. Predictably, everyone LOVED it.

While the students were out at recess around 10:30, a couple of the teachers were busy hiding chocolate eggs all over the classroom. During circle time, one of the teachers explained the Easter Egg Hunt tradition, and told the students that they would be participating in their very own Easter Egg Hunt in just a few minutes.

The excitement was palpable!

Everybody grabbed their adorable little baskets, which had been made from paper cups and then decorated. And the egg hunt began!

The kids had a blast looking through all the nooks and crannies of the classroom and finding treasures hidden there.

Ya proudly holds up her prize!

Shan drops another chocolate egg in his basket.

And Ming finds one near the bookshelf!

In just twenty minutes, all the eggs had been found. The teachers set their full baskets aside to bring home later.

When getting on the school bus to go home after the day ended, their teacher Maria reminded them not to eat any of their eggs on the bus, but to wait until they'd arrived home. All the kids dutifully followed her instructions. And when they did get to their stop, where their foster parents were waiting for them, many of these kids held out their baskets to their foster mommas.

"I saved you some chocolate!" they said.
It doesn't get much better than that.