This morning, Rio followed me around for hours with a notebook, asking me to spell words for her so she could write them down. She wrote stories and then read them aloud to me.

I knew this day would come. The day the pieces just clicked into place and she had  a new skill and that skill was writing words on a page. When I decided to homeschool her, when I trusted the “print-rich” approach over any kind of reading lesson, I trusted she’d learn to read and write on her own.

Still, it was like watching a baby’s first steps. You may have known the kid would learn to walk, as nearly all kids do. You may have realized those steps were close. But the moment the baby moves toward you on her own two feet is still magic.

After the thrill wore off a bit (around hour three), it got annoying. I had things to do other than spell every word Rio could think of.

At lunch we had a talk about plagarism. “I’m not going to spell words for you all day,” I said. “If you want to know how to write ‘Madeline went to the park’, look the words up in your Madeline book and copy them.”

“But Mama! Copying someone else’s work is not nice. I am not going to copy!”

After some difficulty, I persuaded her that in this instance it was OK. She spent the rest of the day copying words out of her children’s books and bringing them to me to read aloud for her.

She was so physical in this, her whole body vibrating with the effort. She ran, she shouted, she stood beside me and stomped her foot impatiently while I put down the dish I was washing or the bill I was paying and turned to read what she’d written.

“Drip.” “Drop.” “Bunny.” “Amazing.”

Here she interrupted me.

“I know it’s amazing, Mama! But what does this word say?”


We stared at each other for a moment. Then I told her the word says amazing, and that amazing starts with an ‘a’. And she was off and running again, to copy it onto three more pages, in different colors.