Maps and Reading Lessons

“Mama, I’ve made a map with my new sharpened pencil.” Emily said, smiling proudly, a piece of copy paper clutched to her chest. Dave had just installed our manual sharpener on the wall down in the basement and helped Emily sharpen her pencils.

“Really? Can I see it?” She nodded and handed over a piece of paper with squiggles everywhere.

“See Mama, it’s a map!”

“Yes, Baby, I can see that it is. So tell me, who is on this map?”

She grinned in excitement, “Right here is my Cousin Eddie’s house.” She pointed to the top left corner of the paper.

I asked her if I could write locations on the paper and she nodded. I carefully marked the spot where her finger was pointing and wrote “Eddie’s House” on it.

“And we live right over here,” she said, pointing to the opposite side of the map. A few minutes later we had a set of points marked out for friends and family, including her friend Callie, Jude, and even Grandori’s house. Surprisingly, she only made one positioning mistake on our street, which had included five other houses besides ours, swapping two of the houses locations with each other.

Later that evening we pulled out the “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” – we had tried it last year and it just hadn’t met with great reception, so I dropped it and waited for her to evidence more of a readiness for reading. She has certainly been doing that in the past few months. She often repeats words over and over as she tries to sound out and differentiate what letters come first.

So we sat down and I did the lesson just as it was written. She was so excited! Which of course made me excited. We whipped through the lesson until the last part, a writing exercise, when my office phone rang and I had to go and answer it. I did, and while I was gone Emily practiced writing all kinds of letters in the dry erase alphabet book I have for that.

I was itching to do Lesson 2, but that will wait until today.

I’ve been weaning her back off of the electronic babysitter (TV) that was employed so often while we were sick with cold and flu and then cold again. What a month it has been!

Finally, after days of constant requests for movies and tv, Emily only asked once in the morning yesterday and took the denial well and did not ask again for the entire day. Instead she played in her room, helped me with baking and cleanup, and helped us organize the garage (which is packed with stuff and needs to be cleared out in time for the chickens in mid-February).

I have also noticed a dramatic improvement in her behavior since she isn’t in front of the tv all the time. A charming, friendly, helpful and inquisitive little girl returned to us!

Today will include story time at the library, a lunch prepared from her new cookbook, and of course Lesson 2 from the reading book. I can’t wait to see this little girl with her nose stuck in a book – lost in another world, in adventure and mystery. It will open up her world like no television ever will and she will take off!

As a friend of my older daughter said recently, homeschool provides “so many more opportunities and educational experiences” – and later added “as a home schooled child Emily has every opportunity to study something she directly loves” – and this is all true.

Today it might be princesses and ponies, and tomorrow maps again. Who knows? At four, and born so late in the year, Emily would not even be eligible to go into school until the fall of 2012, just a couple of months before her 6th birthday.

In some ways I view anything I do between now and then ‘extra’ or ‘free’ – but I do hope to see her reading by the fall of 2012. It will open up her world and fuel her curiosity in ways that I may be lacking.

I look forward to her ‘maps’ and her daily presents (boxes filled with a mass of unrelated toys) that are brought out and displayed. Every day is a learning adventure.

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