“A Light Bulb Went Off”

Laura Matthews has brought her daughters Adi and Emily to Library programs for as long as she can remember. The girls are homeschooled, and they particularly appreciate the monthly Homeschool Adventures series at the Mint Hill location, where they interact regularly with other families and explore new topics.

Last month, Homeschool Adventures celebrated National Braille Month with Braille bingo, a discussion about visual impairments and Louis Braille, and some practice using Braille to write familiar words. For the Matthews family, the subject unexpectedly hit home.

“My nephew is blind, and the girls typically communicate with him via telephone or in-person visits. After this program, it was like a light bulb went off for all of us. They became very excited about writing to their cousin using Braille.” They began by writing a letter, and then used a letter chart from the Library to translate their words into Braille letters, written on paper. They carefully squeezed a drop of glue onto each dot, and then placed tiny beads onto each dollop with tweezers. “It was tedious, but it turned out amazing. In addition to practicing writing and language skills, the girls practiced their hand-eye coordination – and it was a lesson in patience for all of us! Best of all, their cousin loved it and learning Braille is something they can develop together.”

Next, the girls are reading a book about Helen Keller and continuing to research blindness and Braille. Laura appreciates that the Library program begins with facts about the monthly subject, and then proceeds with activities and research projects. This is similar to her approach to homeschooling, which is driven by her children’s interests. Because of their personal connection, this subject has sparked an exciting curriculum unit for the girls – and a deeper understanding of their cousin’s experience – that Laura never anticipated.

Melanie Lewis, the Mint Hill children’s librarian who develops Homeschool Adventures with colleague Emily Neal, is just as excited. “I love it when a family comes to a program without any expectations, and they leave with new ideas and the resources and motivation to learn more. I just thought this would be an interesting topic for the month, but for this family it turned out to be so much more.”

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