speaking engagements

I love to speak to fellow parents! My goal in workshops and other speaking engagements is to help parents let go of anxieties they may have about writing. Most of us carry a load of myths from our school days about how kids ought to learn to write. I help parents see through those myths to discover what kids really need to become eager, effective writers. I offer parents tools to make writing fun, engaging and anxiety-free for their kids.

You can get a sense of my perspective in my article, How Do Kids Really Learn to Write?

If you are interested in having me speak to your group, please contact me.

feedback from previous participants:

“I left Patricia’s dictation workshop truly energized and excited. All anxieties and concerns about the development of my children’s writing flew right out the window! We now enjoy writing and look at it differently in a relaxed and fun-filled way. Learning about dictation and its many benefits has transformed the way we write, dried all our tears of frustration, and enhanced our creativity. What a gift she’s given us – freedom of expression. Don’t we all long for this?” –Meliss G.

“Patricia’s workshop helped me to think about writing in a new way. I feel that I will be more effective with my very reluctant writers. The workshop was very inspirational and life changing.” –Lisa W.

“Fortunately I’ve been able to attend several of Patricia’s workshops and her words never fail to leave me both enlightened and inspired. It is obvious to me that encouraging kids to express themselves is of great personal importance to Patricia and her experience and passion really do shine through in her speaking. But what I love most…? Heaps of useful tips and shared stories—the practical stuff that changes my thinking so I can go home and put my new perspective to real use.” –Shana R.

“Patricia was wonderful.  She inspired me to think about any kind of writing as ‘writing.’  We’ve been doing much more creative writing and poetry since the workshop.  It’s been fun helping my child think critically about language and how she wants things to sound.  Patricia helped me let go of how I thought 8 year-old writing was supposed to look and reminded me that finding a writing voice is more important right now than the mechanics.  I enjoyed her information about writing in general and came away feeling excited to not share the anxiety I felt around writing when I was younger.  Very refreshing and time well-spent.  Thank you, Patricia!” –Samantha B.

“Coming into this workshop, I knew very little about dictation. I now feel like I have the tools to use dictation effectively with my children. I’m excited to use many of the suggestions that Patricia mentioned!” –Monica B.

“Very useful information presented with insightful personal stories. Reaffirmed we’re on the right track.” –Heidi K.

feedback from patricia’s readers:

“Patricia, I have said this before, but your writing is a voice that needs to be heard in education. It speaks to experience that so many home educating parents have: when kids are motivated and their work is important, they learn quickly and with joy. Inspired by your work, I am hosting my first young writers’ workshop this week!” –Amy B.

“You have been a life saver at our house! Thank you for sharing your knowledge.” –Tereza C.

“Through her blog and her book Workshops Work!, Patricia has been one of my greatest homeschooling mentors. She helped me overcome my anxiety that my young son wasn’t writing more and helped me find concrete ways to lay the groundwork for him to write well and enthusiastically–when he was ready.  She is uniquely tapped into how kids are really writing in the digital age and how we as parents can take advantage of tools like the Internet and video games without fearing them.  Her insights are fresh, inspiring, and life-changing, and her way of presenting her ideas is funny and warm.  She has the unusual ability to be both reassuring and challenging at once.”–Carrie P.

“I started taking dictation after reading the Wonderfarm blog. With Patricia’s advice, my son dictates mini essays about his interests–essays that, in organization and clarity, trump what I used to read from Composition 101 students.” –Jennifer

“I’ve found so many wise, useful, inspiring ideas on your blog. Coming here is like being able to call a homeschooling mentor when I’ve hit a wall, or need fresh insight, or a nice perspective check that my seven-year-old will be inspired to write in her own way, in her own time. You make the writing world a better place. Thank you for sharing your passion for writing with us.” –Amy K.

“Your blog is the first one I come to when I wake up in the middle of the night, or can’t fall asleep in the first place. Late at night, or in the wee hours of the morning, when my thoughts are foggy and full of doubt and I wonder if I’m completely insane for choosing this homeschooling path. It is such a comforting and encouraging place to visit.” –Kerry S.

“I am trying to be a little more present to the things online that inspire me and keep me growing and less invested in drivel. And you are one of those good things.” –Amy C.

previous workshops:

How Do Kids REALLY Learn To Write?
Learning to write can be one of the most challenging endeavors of childhood—although it needn’t be. There are many myths about how one should learn to do it, involving everything from grammar workbooks to assigned 5-paragraph essays. Let’s bust some myths! Over a dozen years working with homeschoolers in writer’s workshops have led me to believe that the traditional school approach to writing isn’t necessary—and that it tends to teach bad writing! In this workshop, we’ll examine the myths and look at what kids REALLY need to learn to write. (Hints: Deep conversations, rhyming games in the car, parents willing to take dictation.) We’ll reflect on your own quirky, individual kids and consider how they might be inspired to write. This workshop should be helpful for parents of all types of learners, of all ages, and all homeschool styles, from the more structured to the most radically unschooled.

Workshops Work!: How to Facilitate a Writer’s Workshop for Kids
One of the best ways to motivate a child to write is to find authentic audiences for their words. This can be challenging for homeschoolers, but writer’s workshops are an excellent solution. A workshop is simply a gathering where writers share their writing with one another and offer feedback. Workshops work for all ages, from very young kids who still dictate their ideas, through teens, who especially appreciate peer feedback. They can be nearly magical in motivating kids—the kids write for themselves and each other, not for a demanding parent! Even better: they’re fairly simple to facilitate. This workshop will give you all the nitty-gritty details you’ll need to facilitate a writer’s workshop of your own—and inspire your kids to write!

Dictation: The Writing Tool that has “Homeschooler” Written All Over It
Dictation simply means having one person write for another. It isn’t a method widely used in schools, simply because the adult-to-child ratio doesn’t allow it, but it’s an ideal way to approach writing for homeschoolers. Many kids dislike writing because learning the mechanics—spelling, grammar, penmanship and keyboarding—is an incredibly difficult, complex task that can take years to master. Dictation allows kids to develop their unique, vivid voices as writers from a very early age, while acquiring those mechanical skills gradually and naturally over time. It helps them enjoy the satisfaction of written self-expression without getting bogged down!  It’s also a helpful technique for older, reluctant writers, and for fluent writers who need help starting a challenging project.  In this workshop we’ll explore the role of dictation in a fun, child-centered approach to writing. We’ll discuss tips for how to take dictation successfully, and we’ll examine the advanced writing skills that kids can pick up painlessly, simply by dictating what they have to say to a willing, writing adult.

Making Writing Meaningful for Kids
If you want your kids to be effective writers, the most important thing you can do is help them find meaningful venues for their writing. Learning to write as an isolated, “school” skill is not particularly motivating to kids, but writing on topics that matter to them, for real audiences can be highly motivating. In this workshop we’ll explore your own child’s interests and how those interests might apply to writing. We’ll look at different writing formats, beyond book reports and essays. (Lists! Parodies! Ultimate guides!) We’ll also consider the many ways kids might connect with others via writing. This will be a true “workshop” with lots of time for you to consider your own child, and the writing possibilities that might engage him or her.

Why Writing Matters and How You Can Help it Matter to your Kids
With our shifting technologies, writing is becoming more important than ever in our world. Literacy researcher Deborah Brandt writes, “For perhaps the first time in the history of mass literacy, writing seems to be eclipsing reading as the experience of consequence.” Yet at the same time, largely due to the current climate of standards and testing, most schools are giving writing short shrift. Progressive writing educators are calling for a writing revolution, saying that students need to write more often, with more freedom, about what matters to them, and in the formats that they’re using outside of school. Sounds a lot like what we homeschoolers do already, doesn’t it? In this workshop, we’ll begin by looking at the research to gain a better understanding of writing’s status in the world and in schools. Then we’ll explore how we homeschoolers are in an excellent position to encourage exciting, profound, child-centered writing experiences for our kids—all kids, from the youngest through the teens. Together, we’ll brainstorm ways to turn your child’s personal interests into meaningful, engaging writing. If you’ve ever worried that your child might learn to write better in a classroom setting, come to this workshop and prepare to be surprised.

previous engagements:

August 28, 2013: Hickman Charter School, Oakland, CA.

“Dictation: The Writing Tool that has “Homeschooler” Written All Over It”

“Making Writing Meaningful for Kids”

August 1-4, 2013: HSC Conference, Sacramento, CA.“How Do Kids REALLY Learn to Write?”

“Workshops Work! How to Facilitate a Writer’s Workshop”

September 2012: Hickman Charter School, Oakland, CA.

“How to Write Nonfiction–Using Lots of Post-Its”

 August 3-5, 2012: HSC Conference, Sacramento, CA.“How Do Kids REALLY Learn to Write?”

“Workshops Work! How to Facilitate a Writer’s Workshop”

January 11, 2012: Hickman Charter School, Oakland, CA

“Why Writing Matters and How You Can Help It Matter to Your Kids”

August, 2011: Hickman Charter School, Oakland, CA

“Dictation: The Writing Tool that has Homeschooling Written All Over It”

August 8 & 9, 2011: HSC Conference, Sacramento, CA.

“Dictation: The Writing Tool that has Homeschooling Written All Over It”

“Writing in the World, Writing in Schools—and The Implications for Homeschooled Writers”

August 2009: HSC Conference,  Sacramento, CA.

“Nurturing Young Writers”

August 2008: HSC Conference,  Sacramento, CA.

“The Writer’s Workshop: Inspire Your Kids’ Writing!”