I've been thinking about how neat it's going to be that I can start Tarja off with a Charlotte Mason education, rather than starting in late elementary and early middle school like I did for Melody and Abbey.
Several years ago, I began to look for something that could help us with Abbey's reading. She was a very, very slow reader. Here, begins my testimony of what has made me so passionate about using the Charlotte Mason method.
Abbey could not read or write by the time she was 8 years old. I worked with her every single day. Even my husband started to question my ways, and said that maybe I just didn't know what I was doing, and should send her to public school. I stood my ground. Friends of mine who are school teachers offered all kinds of suggestions, web sites, and curriculum. A lot of tears were shed by both Abbey and me during this time.
Finally, I asked another homeschooler about Charlotte Mason, and she explained it to me, and directed me to a few websites that could explain it better. I borrowed A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola from my local library, took an empty spiral notebook, and took notes from every chapter. I put the brakes on everything else that we had been working on, and started adopting Charlotte Mason's ways immediately.
In about a month's time, Abbey was reading. Not only was she reading her lessons, but she started to read for pleasure. As if a switch had been turned on in her head, she began to spell perfectly, and her penmanship was beautiful ONE MONTH changed everything, after several years of stress, struggle, and heart break.
Shortly after this change, I attended a play that she did with our local Methodist Church. She had to stand up and read a few lines. She read them perfectly, with no mistakes at all. I held myself together until the very end. The girls invited me to enjoy their fellowship meal with them, but I excused myself and went home. I went to my husband, with tears streaming down my face, and I said, "Even you, didn't believe that I could teach her, but today, Abbey stood up and read to the entire church!"
Now, there is a big kicker at the end of this tale. Abbey's reading, writing, and school work seemed to improve 100 percent each and every year. The only problem was that she worked very slowly, but she did get everything done that was asked of her. She works steadily, methodically, and even exclaimed once that she loved doing her school work. I knew that she had a visual perception issue, and I also knew that a regular eye doctor couldn't fix it, but maybe there was some hope. We made a date to have both her and Melody's eyes checked. It was heart wrenching to watch Abbey try to read the eye charts to the doctor. She couldn't read anything correctly. How, then, was she doing so well with her reading, copywork, and writing assignments? I'll never understand it myself, unless it was the consistency that came with using the Charlotte Mason Method, or maybe the act of learning to recognize the words, even if the words looked very different to her than they looked to other people.
This year, Abbey has read almost all of the Babysitter's Club series for pleasure. She is in the lead for our 52 books challenge, and even though she hasn't tried to read any for herself, she enjoys classic literature. I credit the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling for transforming my daughter's life.