Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends,
We have some very excited little authors at school at the moment. It is exciting to see children buzzing with enthusiasm about Writing. A six year old writing 21 pages? Children writing before school and at lunchtime for fun?! How can this be?
At home, I have three children who have now learnt to drive, and my experience with them has some lessons for us as parents and teachers when it comes to learning to write.
1. Learning to drive or write should be exciting because it gives us new freedoms we have not had before. A new writer can now express the many ideas in his head and someone else can understand what has been written! Wow! If learning to drive or write is just another chore, who would want to do it?
2. Learning to drive or write should happen in a safe and supportive and encouraging environment. If the parent is panicking about bunny-hopping down the road, or the learner driver is embarrassed by a critical or mocking audience, or afraid of cars coming towards her at speed or a police officer watching her on the open road, learning to drive is not going to happen any time soon. It is the same with writing. The child needs a safe, encouraging and supportive environment. The child will not get handwriting, spelling, punctuation AND good ideas for a story all at the same time, any more than my daughter will get how to use the clutch, the brake and the accelerator sorted all at the same time as missing the truck driving towards her. Fear of getting it wrong can limit or stop the learning process altogether. Make it safe to fail.
3. Learning to drive and to write takes practise. Driving mileage and writing mileage are essential for success. This means that celebrating little successes is vital, and taking a long term view is important. It will all come together! If fear stops enjoyable practise, the skills will not be gained.
4. Once you can drive and write, life becomes so much easier for yourself, and you can be a blessing to others in a whole new way. It is well worth persevering for the fruit at the end.
So, if your child is enjoying writing, make a big fuss of the fact. Celebrate the new freedom they have to share the ideas in their heads with others. Hide any embarrassment or annoyance at the fact that it doesn’t look perfect yet. Just focus on one little thing at a time (“I love your story and the way you are trying to spell all those words. I love the way you have described that. Oh, by the way, would you like me to show you how a really good capital D looks?”) Take a long term view. Your child is looking for a safe place to make mistakes before he or she will listen to your lectures about doing it right.
Enthusiasm can be killed, and that kind of death is a tragedy.