The First Spark: How I Became a (Reluctant) Homeschool Mom
I was playing with my eldest daughter on the day that it happened. My husband, who was deployed at the time, sent me a racy-though-not-explicit message from half way around the world. I read it, blushed, and quickly typed in my rebuttal. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, my then-3 year old, E-Bear, was standing over my shoulder---READING! Yes, she read his message aloud. I will spare you the details but, rest assured, it was entirely inappropriate coming out of a toddler's mouth. I quickly changed the subject; asking her to read some other sentences for me and she did so with gusto! I was thrilled for her! I texted the Hubster the news and even recorded a video of her reading aloud to share with our extended family. My little person was reading!
Here's the thing. I don't know how E-Bear learned how to read. Seriously. Every time I share this story with moms looking to homeschool I have to follow up with the fact that I did not teach her how to read. We read to her regularly, especially at bedtime. She had even memorized some Dr. Seuss books. (I am a huge fan. More on that later.) We went to story time and spent time at the library. However, I never set out to get my 3-year-old reading. I want to stress this point because I do not want anyone to think that there is something extraordinary about my parenting/homeschooling. In fact, at this point, I had not thought at all about our education choices in regards to our children. (I know. Bad mom.) I just happened to have a child that decoded reading earlier than anticipated. She made me think about it.
The reader's world is significantly larger than that of non-readers. As a parent, I became hyper aware of our surroundings. What did that billboard say? Did she see that magazine cover article? What types of books should I get for her? How can I help her navigate this new world? (Can you tell that I have never been accused of under thinking a situation?) I became so protective of the way she was introduced to new subjects, characters, and concepts. I Googled child development & education resources. I harassed my then-medical school student sister, asking for over-the-phone assessments. You know, the usual parental calisthenics. The experts made the same recommendation: Just keep reading to and with her. I took those words to heart.
That was the spark that set this journey in motion. That day is etched in my memory as the day that a major facet of my role as a parent came into focus. Even before she was eligible for school registration, her father and I have been her teachers. We taught her to blow her nose (which turned out to be more complex than I had initially believed), make her bed, and brush her teeth. But we taught greater lessons as well. Her father and I taught her how to pray. We taught her how to serve others. We were teaching her how to live. She was accustomed to learning from us. Our homeschooling journey began with that in mind.