Take the word, "language," for example, which was on her spelling list when she was in third grade, two years ago. For some reason, it didn't click. She couldn't get it.
"I hate spelling!" She wailed! "I quit!"
The tears fell onto her lined notebook paper, and her anxiety quickly mounted. As much as I tired to help her, I was running low on ideas and patience.
"Well," I began calmly, "let's think about it differently." After playing around with the letters a bit, we came up with this acronym for the word "language:"
"Let's - Ask - Nice - Green - Unicorns - About - Green - Eggs." Once she'd mastered this saying, her damp eyes smiled with delight. She looked hopeful, almost immediately. Wiping away her tears with the back of her hand, her anxiety evaporated, and I could sense her strength and determination shining through.
The other day, two years after the birth of that particular acronym, I overheard Caroline saying that silly sentence as she penned the heading - Language - onto her paper. She'd remembered how to spell it. I remembered that day when she cried.
Last week, another word tested her capability: "disciple." This one was more of a challenge than the word language had been. But never wanting to be quitters, we came up with this acronym:
"Did - I - See - Cats - In - Puddles - Last - Evening?"
You know, sometimes, the simplest things can put a smile on our kids' faces. She was beaming as she pulled out her slightly wrinkled spelling test, which was sandwiched between the notebooks within her backpack. A score of 95% was written on the top of the page, in bright red ink. Caroline smiled. I did, too.
She may not remember everything that I try to teach her throughout her lifetime, but at least she'll know how to tackle some of the problems as she grows: taking on the challenges one small letter at a time. No matter how difficult the "words" in life become, I hope she keeps trying. Quitting? That's one word I hope she'll never need to spell.