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!
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