On a practical level, how to you put this into practice?
School kills the life of writing. They hate it; they resent it. Here’s what’s cool about what we do at Bravewriter. All writing is creative. You can’t write an essay without creative thought. We don’t start with outlines, we start with getting a big mess on the paper and then we make an outline.
WE work with the raw materials of writing.
We recommend the 8 week free write. Parents write too. Everyone has a sheet of paper. Set the timer for 5 or 6 minutes (less for younger kids) and everyone just writes for the duration. Before you start, have everyone make a list about things you love and know the most about. When it’s time, they can pick an item off the list or write whatever comes to their minds or a combination of the two. They can write anything, and all you say is Thank you. Week two, you can extend the length or continue for the same amount of time. each week, you can invite kids to read their page aloud, but they don’t have to. As parents, you don’t look at it. IT gets put in a manila envelope and parents don’t look at it. On week 9, pull out all 8 free writes, and if you want to, you can pick one and put it through the revision process. In Bravewriter I have a book called the writers jungle with details of revision strategies, literally understanding how you grow the content. That’s a beginning process. The other 7 stay free writes forever. You can throw them away if you want, and just start practicing.
Think about this: when you were first teaching your children how to speak. You didn’t teach speech by correcting every thing they said.
Children speaking are taking a risk. They are allowing you to see their process. They know you are going to be a loving kind audience. We worry in writing that children are going to copy us, but it is similar to speech; it’s okay fi they use our words. When children have the speech down, we can work on correcting etiquette, etc.
School doesn’t have the one to one ratio that parenting does. Writing lags behind speech. We have brilliant minds, and we don’t appreciate how long it takes to get fluent using the tools and mechanics of writing. It is something you have to acquire through practice.
I suggest that parents jot down their children’s fluent oral language. We don’t want our kids to think that their writing is measured by their skills. Who they are- if they can externalize language, they can be a writer. The only reason we teach mechanics is to save time and money.
One of the things families can do is catch them in the act of thinking. If you’re cooking dinner and your child runs in and they’re talking away, turn off the stove and start writing her exact words, and you say. “this is so good I don’t want to forget it, so I’m writing it so I can share it with the family.” Be alert for when it occurs. Pull out that paper and read it to the family. Talk about the content. Be sure to keep reading it back to your child. Your child will start wanting you to write everything you say.
It’s critical to realize, when we ask a child to write, they think the words are hiding inside the teacher. When you start valuing what children self express, they know that you want what’s inside them. I spend years writing down what my son said. Clipboards are very wonderful with young children. I wrote it down on a clipboard and my son carried it around for a month. He got pre-literacy and learning skills from his own language.
At Bravewirter.com there is a free 7 day writing blitz. We give you a practice for each day. The first day is “graffiti” where you write in a non traditional way, to pull your kids out of the idea that you have to write a certain way for it to be legitimate. That would be a great introductory experience.
“[All writing] is rooted in the ability of a child to know their own thoughts and be able to bring those out and present them in written expression.” Children feel confident and competent.