These two pictures speak volumes about our two girls. I had asked Hermela to sort all of our teddy bear counters one day in school while I did Caleb's reading lesson. This is what I came back to. Every bear was perfectly lined up according to its color. When she came home, just 3 months ago, she had never had a day of formal schooling. We had planned to start kindergarten with her in August to give her time to adjust here and just focus on the English language. However, we could tell how bright she was when she got here and we decided to start homeschooling her for kindergarten in February. Since then, she recognizes most letters and knows most of their sounds, can count to 100, knows most colors, recognizes numbers, knows days of the week, can copy sentences, writes her full name.....I could go on and on. The girl is amazing. I say all of this not to brag on our teaching skills-Nick and I are hardly experts, but to brag instead on her determination and drive. She is the most driven 5 year old I have ever met. She came to us speaking both Amharic and Tigriniya. She is now quickly adding English to her language list. She soaks up everything we say and even repeats my words as I am teaching lessons or reading books (a trait that is slightly annoying-but is definitely working for her). She is now asking me to teach her to read. She sees Caleb reading books and wants to do the same, so we will start reading lessons in a couple of weeks. I have no doubt that she will be ready for first grade in the fall.
Meron is also soaking up the English language at a remarkable pace. I really think it helps that they have the other kids around them-constantly talking. If it were only me and Nick, I think it might have been different. In a house with 5 kids, someone is always talking, so they have total immersion all day long. While Hermela is really working hard to assimilate and learn new things, Meron is content to "hang out". She definitely takes her role as the youngest child seriously (we now have two youngest children which could get interesting down the road). She is perfectly content to be by my side or attached to me. She has very little drive in the way of work and would much prefer things be done for her. She plays the baby role quite a bit and has even acquired a pacifier since she's been home. Not something we planned on, but we're just going with it (whatever keeps the peace around here).
They have both grown by leaps and bounds since they've been home. We took them swimming in a "big" pool (community in ground pool as opposed to our backyard blow up pool) this afternoon. They had a blast floating through the water (with swimmies) and kicking and splashing around. I couldn't help but marvel at them. Here they were-first time in the deep end-jumping right in. It's kind of a metaphor for how they have approached their new life with us. They have jumped right in and seem to be enjoying every minute of it.