Specialized Learning Space
Post-institutionalized children suffer developmental delays as a result of neglect and abuse. On average a child loses 6 months of mental, emotional, spiritual, and social development for every year he is in an institution. While some children fare better, many more fare much worse.
When we brought Nicholas and Olivia home in 2015, they had just begun grades 5 and 6 respectively in their Bulgarian school. Despite that, Olivia was completely illiterate and was unable to correctly speak her mother tongue, and Nicholas had only a passing knowledge of addition facts. It seems they were simply shunted on to the next school grade without the expectation of any real academic achievement.
Since being home, life has improved significantly in many ways. They are loved and cared for, as never before. Their bodies are being healed with nutritious food. They are learning to belong to a real family, and what it is to love others. They are also receiving a proper education for the first time in their lives.
Sadly, trauma does real damage to the brain. In order to repair that damage, one must start back at the beginning and lay a new foundation.
Nissa has spent more than 20 years as a home educator. After a consultation with a child psychiatrist who saw both Nicholas and Olivia this summer, it was agreed that a dedicated learning environment with a full complement of Montessori materials would be ideal for helping them to ‘fill in the gaps’ and overcome learned helplessness. In this way, they can begin to catch up to their chronological agemates and be prepared for greater success as independent adults.
It was also agreed that a traditional school environment would be detrimental to their development and mental health because of their delays and trauma history. Being at home gives them an opportunity to learn at their own pace without fear of peer judgments or added pressure to conform to their agemates before they are developmentally ready. A home education also ensures year round access to materials and instruction, preventing a lag following a long summer recess.
The cost to renovate the needed space and outfit it with all of the necessary materials is around $25,000. This includes a small amount of remaining demolition, insulation, windows, floors, walls, electric, water, and heating. It also includes a small number of additional furnishings and about $5000 for the least expensive set of Montessori materials. If there are funds remaining at the end of the project, a small fenced garden will be made, accessible through the sliding doors, for all of the children to explore and tend as part of their studies.
We appreciate any gift you can make. You are helping us accomplish a magnum opus – a great work – in these two children. You are ensuring that they receive the best possible foundation for a fruitful and fulfilling life ahead. THANK YOU!