A Sea Change

sea change


1.a striking change, as in appearance, often for the better.
2.any major transformation or alteration.
I can’t help but be in awe of what has happened in the last ten days. I can’t help but feel that it is magical.
Seeing Emily read, watching her grasp the words, and learn more with every moment, is simply one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever felt as a parent. I’m sure I felt this way about her sister – this overwhelming mix of pride and joy – but I wasn’t as hands on, as involved as I am now. Danielle was in the hands of a kind and capable teacher, Emily has had me as I have struggled to figure out the best course of action instead of years of training.
And although I have seen it unfold before my eyes, I am still astounded, still baffled by the mystery of how it all worked out. In many ways it feels as if one moment she couldn’t read and the next minute she could.
I’m still reeling.

Fun With Words

On Thursday we sat down and played Silly Sentences (DK Games). It helps children to understand articles (a, the), nouns, adjectives, verbs and basic sentence structure. “We always start a sentence with a capital letter,” I pointed out to her.
We hadn’t played Silly Sentences (DK Games) since springtime – and the difference is like night and day. This spring, Emily couldn’t (or wouldn’t) read any of the words, but on Thursday she was actively sounding out all of the words and remembering quite a few on her own (ate, and, the, on, few) with no reminders or assistance.

I can’t help thinking that, thank goodness I stopped listening to that frantic little voice inside my head that was so worried. She will never learn to read unless you push her to it. It kept saying that over and over. I caved, more than once, early on. And it really slowed us down. She wasn’t ready – her motivations lay elsewhere. But as soon as I truly backed off, made it low-key, put her back in the driver’s seat on her own education, Emily suddenly began to soar.

Perhaps that is the key component in unschooling for our little family. I am honing my senses, looking at her reactions, waiting for that spark of interest, and trying different angles.

Incorporating Visualization

The other day I talked her into counting by 10s and 20 kept being a problem. Every other 10 she was fine and could happily rattle them off, but 20, it just wasn’t sticking. “Ten…” she scowled in frustration, “what comes next, Mama?”

“Tell me what a ten looks like. Do you remember?” I asked her.

“Yes it’s a one and a zero.” she answered promptly and then something clicked, “Oh!!! Twenty!” And with that, she was off, counting by tens again.

The visualization was what she needed to progress to the next number in the series. And apparently it stuck with her for the rest of the day. “Mama, would you like to hear me count to 100 by tens? Ten, twenty, thirty, forty…”

The Intricacies of Spanish

“Mama, is it blanco or blanca?” Emily asked at lunch the other day. She was staring at the Pepsi can on the table.

“Well that depends on the Pepsi can,” I said, struggling to remember whether a soda can would be masculine or feminine. I explained to her the concept and she stared at me confused. “If you were to say ‘the day’ in Spanish it would be ‘el dia’ – which is masculine.” I explained further, “But the moon, or la luna, is feminine. So the word white describes a noun, which is either masculine or feminine. Depending on which it is, you either say blanco or blanca.”

Emily just stared at me. “I know, it’s confusing to me too. I’m always getting the masculine and feminine confused.”

I really need to get back into my Spanish lessons. I have a feeling though that Emily is ready for some of her own Spanish lessons.

Sea Change

It isn’t just the reading – it’s…everything. It started, oddly enough, with Emily learning to tie her shoes just over a month ago, progressed to whistling (and damn but she’s good – she actually whistles the Cancan by Offenbach!), and now the math and reading skills are on fire.

I have never been happier with my decision to homeschool as I am now. Every day I spend with this curious, excited, and involved young girl reminds me that life can and should be filled with learning and curiosity and joy.

I think suddenly of so many former co-workers who would say to me rather sourly, “Curiosity killed the cat, Christine, just remember that.” I suddenly feel very, very sorry for them.

What about you? What are you doing with your kiddos that is bringing you joy, energy or excitement?

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