Saturday, September 17, 2016

Our Journey So Far in Raising 3rd Culture Kids

I have mentioned before about my fears involved in raising missionary kids. I pray constantly for God to help my kids thrive. Our largest hurdle for a while was my boys learning Spanish since all the kids their age around the institute and church speak Kekchi. I still was surprised they weren't picking it up. Other than us, they weren't really around other English speakers all that often. I had asked God to lead me to a solution. We were doing homeschool Spanish and were struggling trying to get private tutors to show up outside of that. Their 4th tutor was the one God used to lead us to that solution. She is a missionary kid who is currently attending college in the States. 
During the boys' first class with her, she shared that she picked up Spanish by her parents putting her in elementary school here for a while. I had thought about this option before, but I wasn't comfortable with it academically. I knew we would have to homeschool in order for my boys to be prepared for college in the States. I talked it over with Jimmy again. We hadn't considered them doing both before, English homeschool and Spanish regular school, all at the same time. There is actually an Assembly of God school in our town. They offer kindergarten for 3 hours each afternoon. The school year starts at the end of January, and it was only the beginning of February at the time. Could they do both? Would it burn them out? Was this the solution God was giving me?

Jimmy drove to the school when he finished classes at the institute that afternoon. He enrolled them.  Soon I had them at the school introducing them to their new teacher. 
They started Spanish kindergarten the very next day! They were excited and nervous... I was excited and nervous! These boys had been out of my presence very few times during their 6 years of life. I'm so glad they are twins, I don't think I could have dropped off one all by himself that day. 
Jonah sums it up perfectly here:
Look how little they look:
My boys are SO brave! God blessed them with a wonderful teacher. She is a Christian and has been so kind to our family. She texts us all the time and catches us as we are picking up the boys to keep us updated with how they are doing.
After their first day of class:
Their teacher told us the other day that they sound just like all the other kids. The students at the farm keep talking about how much they speak now. They say, "And they don't talk with accents either!" I love listening to their little Spanish voices.
This is one of the best decisions we have made for our family. They have some great friendships now with kids in our town, kids whose parents are really invested into their kids lives. 
They have school uniforms that a tailor in town made. They wear them every day but Tuesday, P.E. day. Jonah calls them "sweat pants"! 
 They also have ID badges that they wear. Do you know how excited they were when they came home with these!!!
Jonah developed this coping mechanism, where he asks us to wave one more time at one of the 2 gated fences, depending on which way we drive off. He is such a cutiepie! Now Silas runs there too, it's our little tradition!
 They are currently in Spanish kindergarten and English 1st grade. In January we will start Eden in Spanish kindergarten and they will promote to 1st. Eden is only in English K-4, on an American school year schedule. It is kind of tricky, getting everything done. We can't lollygag, because we have to finish before lunch, in order to get them dressed and to school, with their Spanish homework done by 2:00. It is really laid back though. Sometimes we get a text the day of, that school is canceled. (I love those texts, don't tell!) 
Spanish homework takes some time! I'm kind of embarrassed to admit how much I have learned from Spanish kindergarten... so much terminology for different ways to manipulate tissue paper haha!
I was kind of worried that Jonah and Silas would get confused learning to read in 2 languages with such similar alphabets. When we started 1st grade this year I asked them what were the 5 vowels. Jonah said, "Well... I can tell you in Spanish!" It all works out! 

They get to participate in activities, like field day:

They were in a Day of the Bible parade! 

They had an Independence Day parade. 
That one kind of got rained out!
They are going to have so many experiences that will help them relate to their peers here. We asked them the other day if they ever get called gringo. Silas said, "No, but Rodrigo calls me vos". That's an informal tense that you would only use with a close friend. That melted my heart!  
My truck has been in the shops since Titus' was born, so we take a lot of tuktuk's to school. We have been making this new adventure work for our family!
Jimmy usually picks them up... and sometimes choco bananos and licuados too! 
 So their childhood looks pretty different from Jimmy and mine's, but it's still an awesome one! That was an expectation that I didn't realize I had. It's changing. So that is where we are at on this journey of raising 3rd culture kids! My boys are currently fluent and thriving. I'm sure there will be lots of adjustments along the way, but God got us this far, so I will have to trust Him with the rest!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The New Dean of Students at the Instittute!

I just want to share with everyone the big blessing that God sent our ministry and family! We have been praying for some nationals to come along side and help at the institute. No one knows the culture and language like another Kekchi. I didn't understand how this would be possible since we really wanted someone who had a strong Biblical education. Obviously that is a need in our area or else Jimmy wouldn't have started the institute. 
Well God sent a wonderful couple! Pastor Ely decided when he was 10 that he wanted to learn to read. He didn't speak any Spanish. He started just hanging out in the back of a school classroom (Spanish speaking), helping with chores, like hauling water. Soon the teacher asked if he wanted to study and let him join their class. When he was almost 20 he decided he wanted to prepare for ministry and traveled to Guatemala City and studied in a Nazarene seminary. He lived on campus and studied for 3 years (kind of like the institute here;).

At that seminary he met his Spanish speaking wife, Cristy. They were married and later returned to Petén with a heart to reach his own people. Once someone works their way to Guatemala City they rarely do not return to rural Petén. He has a visa and has traveled to the States for pastor's conferences and even was offered a full time pastorate position in Missouri. He turned it down because his burden for his own people is so strong.
{Pastor Ely traveling with some of the students}
We haven't ever met a couple like Pastor Ely and Cristy. We love them dearly and are so thankful that they have accepted the position as Dean of students at the farm. They live on campus now and he teaches several of the classes. They just recently turned over a Kekchi church that they planted to another national, so they know about church planting!

This is a huge blessing to the farm and the men there, being trained for ministry! Please pray for Pastor Ely and Cristy as they are transitioning to the farm and their new job. They have a newborn too, name Moises.
That's Spanish, for Moses, for those of you who remember that I wanted to name Titus that! God brought us a Moses after all, he will probably be Titus' best friend one day!
God is so good to our family and ministry. He ALWAYS provides. Today is our 10 year anniversary in Guatemala. I am so thankful for all that God has taught us through this journey of Who He is, His power, and how much He loves us! I pray that He allows us to spend the rest of our lives here, finishing the job that He gave us to do!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Welcome to the Dinsmore Homeschool: Year 2

 After K-4 Jonah and Silas did not know a summer break was coming, so for 3 months they told me, "I really miss my mommy who used to do school with me!" We started our second year of homeschool on August 17th and the first 2 months of K-5 were wonderful! 
Pointing at Papa's birthday.
We didn't skip anything or have any interruptions. Then Mommy got pregnant and we hit a rough patch. We may have done a couple days weeks in my bedroom... on the bed... with the air on! But we moved back into our school room by January. 
An activity they liked so much they had to show Daddy when he got home!
We switched curricula this year. We used ABeka for K-4. My boys learned how to read just fine, so it works. Different things work for different families, but I didn't feel it was a good fit for us. There were 3 reasons I started looking for something else: 1. I wanted activity ideas... they're boys, we need to move! I had to supplement games and activities each day. We continued using some this year too.
Our fishing pond of word families
2. The worksheets were super repetitive. I like review and even worksheets, but present the material in different ways and ask different types of questions. 
3. My boys didn't like the readers. I dreaded reading and really struggled with it in kindergarten and early elementary, so I am pretty sensitive to this. The readers to me have vocab that isn't very common and stories that are unrewarding to read. The font used isn't the font that is taught, so often times my boys would struggle with letter recognition for letters like g's ts' and a's when it wasn't their fault.
I really wanted a curriculum that offers all subjects and that we can stick with through high school. This year we chose Bob Jones. While we were on furlough 2 years ago I actually met with a consultant and looked inside the books. It is about 30% more expensive, but I felt I got more than 30% more worth of resources. In the photo above, Bob Jones is on the left, Abeka is on the right. I realize that K-5 should be more meatier than K-4 anyway, but it is a much richer curriculum all around.
We covered science and history topics even though they are not stand alone subjects yet. 
Our volcano
Water Cycle
The reading comprehension exercises are excellent! My boys are kind of opposite in the way that they learn and it worked for them both. In the photo below, an Abeka reader is on the left and BJUPress is on the right. My boys loved reading time this year! This may be a maturity level issue too, but the readers are more interesting.
There are lots of reproducible activities in the back of the teacher's manuals, so Eden was able to do many things with us!  
Statues of Liberty
 My mom was here during the summer last year and even this year! She helped me organize, laminate and decorate my school room. We made a Superman (although I never went back and added his fists) and a Bible timeline.
Jonah was SO sad when we took the Superman down to set up for 1st grade.

I purchased a couple extra products for our school room this year.

We used this pocket chart for sight words, but I use it at the institute when I teach too.
The curriculum suggested unifix cubes.
We used them everyday. I thought seeing what they make with them after math class highlights their personalities! Silas made a Spiderman hand, Jonah made a gun and Eden made a doggie!
I also ordered this magnetic spinner. We used this metal door and our magnetic letters a lot! I would put blends in the spinner and they would have to make words.
There isn't anything more valuable than books. While we were on furlough last August we went to a used bookstore and brought lots of good ones back!
MaG sent us a workbook for Eden. She worked on that all year and loved it! She is so sweet while we have school!
I didn't care for the BJUPress Bible curriculum. I want a clear biblical applied truth for each lesson and more activities than what the workbook offered. It hasn't been updated in a long time and just isn't at the same level as their other subjects. Towards the middle of the year I started doing my own thing, then at the end of the year we tried a sample lesson from Picture Smart Bible and really liked it. We may go with that this next year or just do our own Bible study with the resources I already have. I haven't decided yet. 
Pillar of clouds by day / Pillar of fire by night... it all eventually turns into weapons.
 With the Phonics and reading curriculum we had a very fun year!
 All 3 of my kids bring stuff up we studied all the time. They keep asking me how many days till school starts again too. That makes me so thankful!
Weather charts
Studying the seasons

I thought this was funny. This would have been Jimmy and I if we had ever been in school together. Silas is finishing his paper about the time Jonah finishes organizing his crayons to start his! I see the practical side of Jimmy in Silas, so I value it.
 There was lots of Bible in the core subjects too. We built a Bible times town.
 Homeschooling twins is a hoot! Probably easier since they have a classmate.

Jonah and Silas are so different. We don't focus on competition, but we definitely don't eliminate it completely. We try to celebrate each other's strengths... learning how to both win and lose graciously. Neither struggle too much but are quick to encourage their brother if they miss something. Silas is extremely creative with an outside of the box personality. If I don't present the point of something he won't be interested. If I don't let Jonah get sufficiently prepared for an activity, he gets frustrated. Jonah is my inside the box little perfectionist. His box is going to be organized, alphabetized and the nicest box in the room, while Silas will have cut his box up to make it into a rocket ship! Both personalities are important in this world. Here I was teasing Jonah because we couldn't start this math activity until he sorted all his circles.
We made a Kindergarten Journal. It is a creative writing prompt encouraged by the curriculum. We plan on doing one every year. The boys wanted to re-read the entire book each time we added to it!
I love that after school as I move around the house the kiddos follow me, they just like for us all to be together! I've never even hung clothes on the line without tripping over one of them. Eden was sick one day and wanted to lay down in the room with us. From then on she called the blowup mattress her hospital bed! I think we are bonded, I hope it stays like that as long as possible!
We studied about community helpers. The boys ate this up!
Jonah was fire, not a person on fire...
I made lots of slideshows for their iPads of tools fireman, policeman, dentists and mailmen use. They loved it!

Our mailbox
There were snack suggestions too.
Our marshmallow teeth
Jimmy made some things for us this year, like geoboards

and a burning house that they got to put the fire out!

Most of the days I found myself really enjoying our time together rather than just checking something off a list to complete. That's what kindergarten should be!
Sorting food groups
Who knew homeschooling by necessity would be such a blessing to our family! There are so many things I learn about them from our conversations, and values I get to share. These are many conversations I would miss otherwise.
We finished the school year the day before we left for the capital to wait on Titus' birth.
It was a school year we will cherish forever!

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