I hesitated about posting this photo. But I checked with its author, Mr. T, and he okayed it.
This was a slip for our Advent box. A box in which, during Advent, we place slips of paper sharing how we’ve brought light, somehow, to someone else.
Mr. T wrote this one. He didn’t fold it in half, so when I opened the box to add a slip of my own one day, this was sitting on top, waiting to charm me. In his own quirky spelling, Mr. T had written I did not interrupt when Mama was doing the Writer’s Workshop.
The workshop is something I facilitate for a group of kids who are Lulu’s age. And whenever we meet, Mr. T has to keep himself busy and stay out of the way for two hours. Not always an easy task for an eight-year-old boy, but clearly he recognizes that it helps me when he does.
I post the slip here for a few reasons. First, I’m making just two resolutions for the new year. One is to make substantial progress on my book project. The other, a sort of extension of the first, is to post more often about writing with kids.
Because, as you can imagine, I’m fairly immersed in the topic these days. But even more, I want to put other parents at ease when it comes to kids’ writing. Whenever I give workshops on writing, whenever I post here on the topic, whenever I simply find myself in a conversation with other parents about writing, I realize that many parents have a lot of anxiety about kids and writing.
And I have a personal mission to help them stop worrying so much.
Look at that little slip of paper. Isn’t the spelling a mess? My kid is eight years old; if he went to school he’d be in second grade. I think his teacher might be concerned that he spells doing as doni and shop as soepo. Soepo?
Am I worried? Nope. (Noepo?) See, this kid only writes on his own in little bits here and there, when he wants to. On his comics, on lists, for games he’s imagining. Mostly, I write for him, taking dictation. He’s quite a storyteller.
With my oldest, I did a fair amount of forcing when it came to writing. And he was the only one of my kids to say he hated writing. (Luckily, he grew out of that frustration before long.) With my younger two, I decided that nothing was worth making them hate something that I loved so dearly. So I took dictation from them and let writing happen more slowly and organically.
It’s still happening slowly and organically with Mr. T.
I love that slip of paper. It may not look like much from an eight-year-old, but it was writing that Mr. T did without prompting, because he wanted to. I don’t think he worried much about the spelling. And I think spelling will always challenge him somewhat–he’s more of an auditory learner than a visual one. But then again, look at how he uses an apostrophe in the word writer’s. He can’t spell the word correctly, but he can punctuate it. Interesting, huh? (He picks up a lot of grammar naturally when I take dictation from him.)
If posting that little slip helps even one parent breathe easier about his or her own kids’ writing, then I’m glad I did it. And I plan to continue writing about writing. If you have questions or comments about your kids and their writing, let’s start talking here. Because it’s a new year, and I’m a woman with a mission.