Next time won’t you sing with me…

I don’t remember learning letters and numbers.  I’m sure my Mom sang along with me, practicing over and over again until I could recognize and say my numbers and letters. I feel like I just grew up knowing them. I do remember having to “erase well” on my homework and making sure my letters and numbers displayed neatly.

In recent years I’ve sang the ABCs and practiced letters with the Littles. It is so sweet to watch them go from babbles to now reading books and writing in full sentences. I have their artwork displayed in my classroom and each time I see them they have learned a little more. 

But, I can’t imagine learning to recognize, read and write numbers and letters as a grown up. 

I have been volunteering for several months with an organization who teaches English to Afghan and Iraqi immigrant women during the day.  In the evenings we meet with them to practice conversational English.

Tonight we did a craft, making washi tape bookmarks.  As we were talking, we learned their current lessons are about alphabet letters and numbers. We talked about first learning the alphabet and teaching with the alphabet song. I sang it, we all laughed, but next time won’t you sing with me? Her son was singing it as we were working. As we were working I asked the Mother there tonight to spell her name, I was going to letter her name on a bookmark.  She looked at me, then to her daughter for help. 

She didn’t know how to spell her name.     

I was reminded of yesterday in church, sermon on loving people where they are.  Having no agenda for any relationship with them.  Tonight that sermon resonated for me. I volunteer through my church, but we are simply there to help practice English, and show them Jesus. Our initiative is to build relationships with the women and children, not to preach to them, or try to change their beliefs, but to show up, consistently, and build relationships. Our actions will show Jesus, eventually our words will.

ABC and 123 on Chalk Board.
We practiced saying and recognizing numbers, both written and with me holding up fingers.  She would look to her children and me for help. 

We practiced saying and recognizing letters. Again, she looked to her children and me for help. I drew dotted lines for her to follow to write her name in English.  We practiced recognizing the letters of her name, and her daughter’s name.

She has such a strong desire to learn. 

I have to build trust in her that I want to help her, to equip her for life here in the US. 

I thought of papers that she might have to sign for her children. She can’t read them or write to fill them out. I thought of grocery stores and restaurants and all the places we dart in and out of never thinking twice about how much we read and write on a daily basis.  She doesn’t understand them.

She understands love.  She understands a smile and a pat on the back as encouragement.

These means to learning translate universally no matter what the language barrier is and no matter what the “lesson” is.  Far beyond numbers and letters, love and encouragement teach, remove fear and build confidence. 

Our time came to a close.  She told her daughter to ask me if I wanted to come home with them. The home, our most sacred of places, she would have me in her home.

Tonight made me pause.  Stop and remember.  Don’t we all want someone to sing with us? Not to us, not for us, but with us. Until we can sing on our own. 



  1. annalee on February 17, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    yes. sing with us. i love this story and reminders. thank you sooo much for sharing and loving well!

Leave a Comment