Letters, Love, and Magical Homeschooling Moments
(Sacramento, CA, USA)
Lucy doesn’t know how to read, but she’s a bookworm. She spends hours looking at books, developing complicated theories about their cats, trains, queens, and caterpillars. She even invents stories about the adventures of individual words and letters. She’s full of glee, but I think to myself, "Just wait until you unlock the true magic of letters and words, my darling."
I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, and now it's mind-boggling to have a daughter of my own. Although Lucy’s young, she's tremendously interested in school and, in my super objective opinion, terrifically clever. I'm deeply excited to pass on my love of learning, which my mother passed on to me. But it’s intimidating.
When Lucy was two, she started learning letters. We used pens to draw letters on paper, chalk to draw letters on the sidewalk, and fingers to draw letters in the dirt. We traveled through the house finding things that start with “p” — princess, puppy, Papa, purple. We studied with sandpaper flashcards, saved from my very own preschool days, and traced the rough lines with our fingers.
For a whole year, Lucy struggled to blend letters into words. I pushed forward, wanting to create a prodigy to demonstrate the wonders of homeschooling — and to validate my parenting abilities. But Lucy couldn’t grasp the idea. How did my mother survive the fourteen years of my education?
Lucy felt frustrated, so I backed off and let her learn at her own pace. We focused on a true love of reading instead of a perfect grasp of phonetics. She squealed when she recognized the letters she knew, turned the pages with aplomb, and always begged for one more story.
Yesterday, she "slid the letters together" for the first time. In that magic moment, C-A-T became not only a homework lesson, not only a string of recognizable shapes, but a living, breathing, meowing creature. When I saw the light in Lucy’s eyes, I understood why my mother taught all seven of her children at home. I know I’ll do the same for Lucy.