Nate is finishing up his 3rd month of first grade. He's started going for the full day, which is from 9:00 am until 3:40 pm. Up until about a month ago he was only going half a day but with Hetee and I both working more (more about that later), the full day schedule and having the bus bring him home works out better for all of us.
At first, it took Nate a while to get accustomed to the food they served at lunch--all Mongolian fare which he wasn't very accustomed to before. A snack from home helps tide him over when he absolutely cannot eat. He's doing much better now, and a few of the teachers told me that he's eating more and more. Other than the food, he seems to be enjoying the afternoon schedule of art, sports, computer, music and dance.
I was curious to see how his language would evolve after being in a Mongolian environment for most of the day. His Mongolian has improved and he recently passed his first reading test. His Mongolian "j", "ch" and "z" all sound the same though. No big deal. One thing I've noticed is that he switches back and forth from English to Mongolian when talking to me or Hetee. He never used to do that. It doesn't bother me. After living here for 10 years I switch back and forth, too!
Nate's English reading has picked up, even though we have not been formally studying English due to the longer days at school. Last night he and Hetee went grocery shopping and Nate read the entire list-- about 20 words-- and found the items himself. It's amazing to me to see how he pushes himself to read and spell. He truly is a determined boy!
Abi and I are doing preschool every other day or so. She goes with me practically everywhere, even to my English classes sometimes. She's super smart and catches on very quickly. She loves to color and is always coloring something to give to someone. She memorizes things easily and is always quoting some silly line to a silly movie. I really want to focus on more Bible verse memorization with her (somebody hold me accountable!)
I am still teaching once a week, grades 2-5, all in one day. It's a challenge but I find that if I'm well prepared, they won't eat my alive. The second graders are a real challenge. Lively songs and games go a long way with them. Third grade is a little better. Fourth and 5th grades are my favorite because I feel like I am making progress with them.
I talked to my director the other day and asked him for some feedback. Most Mongolians are not good at positive feedback and I was feeling like I wasn't doing a good job. He told me that I was doing great and that the parents of my students were very satisfied with my work. That was nice to hear after 3 months of wondering and feeling like I wasn't making much of a difference.
The other English teacher, a Mongolian woman named Uyangaa, and I have started putting together an English library for the students. I have donated several books and she has bought some, too. We could still use more books if anyone out there wants to help. Even just a few books would make a huge difference and open up a new world for these kids. Let me know!