Learning from lucy

So today Lucy asked me if i thought a risk was a good thing. Yes, Lucy asked this. Lucy who is 6.

..and so ensued a conversation about where she had heard the word ‘risk’, what she thought it meant, what it actually meant and to be honest I think I’ve not had as educated a conversation in a long time. And it was with my 6 year old!

Lucy is an enigma. She’s an old soul. Don’t get me wrong, Lucy can be 6 with the rest of them, but she has this wee air of ‘I’m playing along with this’ that is a wonder to watch. We learn a lot from Lucy. Her observations often sum up a conversation in a phrase or two (remember like Jerry Springer used to do in his piece to camera at the end of each show?!).

Lucy is a sensitive wee soul. In more ways than one. Sensitive in that from across the room she can give you a look that says ‘you need a hug.. I’ll be there in a minute.. here’s a special air hug to do you until I get there’. Sensitive in that if we meet people she’s not met before she feels the need to explain Amy to them.. sensitive in that she picks up on details few adults do and can make your day by complementing them..sensitive in that she has princess and the pea syndrome (it’s a real thing).. she cannot wear jeans. Can’t. She can’t wear tops with lines on them, trousers, anything baggy or anything with a collar. We’re limited to the dallas cowboys cheerleader look (shorts and welly boots). But she rocks it.

Last week was mothers day. We tried on about 8 dresses before we left the house. She tried to hold it in but couldn’t… in the end she said ‘mum, I’m sorry, you just can’t make me a different person’.. and you know what, I don’t want to. I’m so proud of my fiesty cheerleader. Those traits that make her headstrong, bossy and a wee know it all will make her a decisive, single minded leader in her own time. So why would I want to change that?  Sure, the 6 changes of clothes a day, all of them trampy, are a pain.. but she knows what she likes..

I do however need to work on her self image. It’s so important with wee girls that they don’t feel the need to please others or dress for others. As adults you know we do it. When dressing for a function or event, you dress to impress the other women, not the men (not that the men would notice anyway?!). With girls I think we need to work on making sure we are dressing for how you feel, not how you look (I can say this as a size 18.. there I said it!).

What’s really sad though is the power that clothes have over how Lucy feels about herself. This goes beyond how the clothes physically feel, which in itself is a very real issue for her, but how she actually feels wearing them. It’s unfortunate that unless her skirt is grazing the top of her thigh (at 6!), she feels frumpy. Now i hasten to add that she didnt learn that here! Her sense of self needs some work.. she has so much to feel good about.

Not school yet though. Lucy thinks like a(n at least) 9 year old. She has an auditory processing issue which means that she’s struggling to break words down to spell or to read. Lucy is however so expressive and when she describes a feeling or analogy, she’s just got it.. she also has wisdom beyond this lifetime. She can see through an issue right to the lesson to be learnt from it. We often sit back and smile (sometimes even when we should be telling her off) as she describes why she’s doing the thing we’re telling her not to do, rather than just stopping.

Talking to her in the car the other day I realised that of course teaching her like a just turned 6 year old won’t work. She doesn’t think like a just turned 6 year old. She asked why the ‘y’ on the end of her name didn’t sound like ‘yu as in yoghurt’.. oh the perils of English eh?! So I explained that letters are clever. They sound different depending on where in the word they are found. So on the end of her name it sounds like ‘ee’.. like Amy, Mummy, Daddy, Granny…  that made sense to her. Phonics teaches each letter sound first. Then you relearn digraphs and then relearn phonemes…

Whilst i am totally subscribed to the ‘they learn when they are ready’ camp, Lucy has been born ready and is just not getting it. I’m going to go off piste and teach Lucy the facts..and respect that she’ll be able to cope with that. I’m also making ‘flash cards’ (boy i dislike that title) to stimulate the visual learner in her, by giving words like ‘there’, ‘this’ and  ‘she’ pictures for her to visualise.. She loves to write and always comes to check if what she’s written is spelt properly. It completely wrecks her head if you say no. So i usually explain that she’s got the sounds right. I can make it out..


I lof yooy mum. (Y as in yoghurt sound at the end of the word ‘you’)

Choosdaay (tuesday)

Brd tbll (bird table).. we can’t  master vowels.

My granny loved the English language. Most years we got English grammar books for Christmas and you often got your thank you letters posted back to you with the corrections done in red pen. She felt that grammar was so important that the worst thing you could do was let yourself down with poor grammar. She’d be very disappointed with the number of sentences that I’ve started with ‘And’!

But (there’s another no no!), time moves on and styles change, teaching methods change and our understanding of learning adapts and progresses.

Plus, I live with Lucy. Things will never be the same again, including my understanding of learning. I think it’s so important to respect what she does know and how she thinks and above all to ensure her self esteem doesn’t dip at all.

I’ve learnt more from this tiny adult than I’ve ever learnt in a book and I’m excited to see how much more there is to know. Xx






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