This summer brings with it a bittersweetness that’s difficult to describe. My littlest daughter is beginning to ask about words on the page, point out letters in street signs, and linger longer at the table as I work with her older sister on math. Her tiny voice is full of questions, her games have become more complex and intricate. She’s growing up.
Okay, she’s three. But to me, it’s a lifetime of change in one little year. Always the quieter of the two, now she’ll stand at my knee as I fold clothes and ramble on and on about something she saw outside or sing songs she’s made up on her own. She memorizes everything–planets, numbers, French words, the names of flowers I say to her as we walk around the wild space behind our apartment. This blossoming is wonderful to behold. And it makes my heart just a little heavy.
She’s my last.
For medical reasons, I can’t have any more babies. She’s the last one I get to do this with. The last one I get to witness these discoveries through–these tiny, miraculous epiphanies. The last one I’ll teach to recognize the special sounds that each letter of the alphabet represents, and the last one I’ll get to watch smearing paint with reckless abandon across the page, completely unbothered by what the end product will be. She’ll never be as little as she is, right now, in this moment, again.
I was going to wait until next spring to start any “formal” homeschooling with her. I wanted to wait as long as possible. But a few weeks ago, while I was working with my oldest, I had given her the dry-erase board and markers to scribble with to keep her busy. She was concentrating hard, not her usual carefree doodling. After a few minutes, she cried out in frustration. I asked her what was wrong. “Can I make a letter B?” she pleaded. Looking down at the dry-erase board, I saw the crude beginnings of letter printing–little squares and lines and shaky triangles arranged carefully about the board.
“Of course!” I said, “But let’s do it on the paint bag instead.” Her little face lit up. The paint bag! Like big sister did all last year.
“I’m big now!” She said, almost a question, as she watched me tape the bag down. “I’m doing homeschool too!”
And so it began. All last year, we did Blossom and Root Early Years Vol. 2 together. Brice, my littlest, joined in when she wanted to–usually to help make brownies (for letter B) or to play with letter magnets or to paint or listen to composer study. But when it came time for anything else, she would slide off the kitchen chair and scamper away to play. Now, as she sat pushing her finger across the paint bag, she was focused and happy. She was ready to “do homeschool.”
The Early Years Vol. 2 curriculum is designed to coincide with this stage–the curiosity to learn the letters and their sounds bubbling up naturally from each individual child when its meant to, and no sooner. For some, this comes very early, as young as two. For others, it may not come until five or six. For Brice, it came this summer, smack in the middle of three. We’ll take our time about it. I’m in no hurry. The week of letter A can take a month if we want it to. There’s no pressure, no expectations, just the joy of discovery–her discovery–at her pace, and following her lead. It’s flexible and adaptable for each child. Blake, my oldest, favored the collages when it came time for letter sound activities. Brice seems inclined toward kitchen projects instead. Blake was ready to print with a pencil. Brice is far happier forming the letters with play-dough.
And I am going to soak up every second of it–every short letter lesson, every adventure during nature study, every snuggle-up-together-read-aloud, every messy art project, every lazy afternoon listening to composer study while making rolls for letter r. All of it. I wasn’t ready, but she is. And it’s her journey, after all.
“What a child digs for becomes his own possession.” – Charlotte Mason
Watch how we approach reading readiness with Blossom and Root Early Years:
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