Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How About Our Older Child Adoptions?

Children who are adopted past the infant and toddler age will have a lot of work to do to develop their new language. They're behind already, as they didn't have the intense interaction that a child in a nurturing family would experience, which is support and encouragement for developing language. It is very likely that their first language would be below average when compared to peers from their home country, who were not living in orphanages. They haven't had the experiences, rich with opportunities for learning, that a child would have in a supportive family environment. They've been exposed to less one-on-one attention from a consistent caregiver, less educational experiences, and less reading, which really helps children increase their vocabulary.

Research by Karen E. Pollock showed that younger groups showed slow development at first, with rapid acceleration after nine to twelve months post-adoption. Older age groups had more words when they were tested,but they also had the greatest gains to increase before reaching the levels of non-adopted peers.

Research by Tony Xing Tan and Yi Yang studied 186 girls living in the US., adopted from China. They were adopted between the ages of three months and 27 months and were all 18-35 months old at the time of his study. He stated that most children needed approximately 16 months to catch up to native speakers in the area of vocabulary, and average phrase length expressive language.

Research by Blachowicz, Fisher, Cole, and Watts-Taffe in 2006 told us that children with average or above average verbal abilities begin school with a receptive vocabulary of between five thousand and ten thousand words. By the time average and above-average native English speakers leave high school, they've acquired approximately forty thousand receptive words; more than three thousand new words for each year that they've been in school. (Nagy and Herman 1987).

It is likely that our children haven't had the fine-motor experiences that also prepare a child for writing. Provide lots of opportunity for play with clay or containers filled with dried peas, rice, or beans. Help your child color with crayons, markers, and colored pencils. Give your child opportunities to cut, glue, and explore.

1 comment:

Ray said...

Something that is often missed (that you included) was how older children have a larger vocabulary. So younger children don't need to learn as many words to become fluent at their level with playground English, where an older child has a steeper learning curve. For non-adopted children who immigrate in Middle School from China in the US who are friends of my daughter, it seems within an incredible short time they become fluent. My wife immigrated here at 16 with limited English and through her English speaking boyfriend became fluent speaking with no accent. Surprising learning a second language at this late of a age.