Rescuing the Japanese princess absorbed Molly for a good couple of months. Her other stories kept her siblings cross-legged and quiet while she read aloud to them of her imaginary characters, most of whom they could relate to, but possessed qualities slightly beyond their reach. She also writes poems and songs. Her music lives in our heads for weeks. This girl has a talent for making things catchy and we all encourage her to keep writing.
My other children compose as well. There are short stories and long chapter books, riddles and gratitude journals. A couple of them have a diary. My sister, Holly, inspired me the other day when she shared how she'd come across a curriculum that focused solely on the 3Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic--I know, they're not all spelled with R :). Since we've been home educating for many years, as moms we've researched nearly every curriculum available in Canada and the U.S. However, from time to time, we find something that, even though we may not adhere to it completely, it's a good reminder to get back to the basics. It was the writing portion of her talk about this one that intrigued me.
Writing has always been important to me and this blog is evidence of that. Although not every day is perfectly the same and the schedule is set aside for important things that arise, generally, there is writing happening here and most of my kids have learned to love it. Curriculum conversations are beneficial in that they sometimes draw us back to what we already know or own. In this case, I'm itching to get back to our Story Starters by Karen Andreola. It's a book in which the children finish the story she has begun but the beauty is in how they take on her classic writing style and in doing so, advance their own. Copying a master doesn't cause them to become copycats, it helps them to realize there are approaches outside of what they know and, eventually, they discover their own beautiful technique. I'm already beginning to witness it. Nineteenth Century teacher, Charlotte Mason believed children should copy classic writing from living books in order to naturally learn grammar, spelling, vocabulary and composition. I love this theory but I often get caught up in purchasing a myriad of curricula that dazzles the eye but doesn't benefit my children in a lasting way. I must remember that paring down and feasting on a few things at a time educates far better than a shallow buffet of many subjects.
The assignment (and I emphasize the word assignment) of writing itself is not always well received by all my children, and so it must be presented as valuable tool for communication. Meghan has a passion for dance, fitness, and nutrition. She recently wrote an essay entitled "Stretching For Seniors". Her outcome was not only a piece that will hopefully benefit an older generation, but also, my girl began to understand her audience to a greater and more gracious degree. As part of another assignment, she rewrote Jesus' parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35) as though the characters were from the Middle Ages. She is presently working on a postmodern version, in which the greedy forgiven man is a teenage girl and her crime relates to her peer group. The purpose is to practice tweaking her writing style while understanding God's Word is timeless.
Might I encourage you (and me) to make writing an everyday occurrence? When our children have someone to present to or someone who will benefit from their pieces, they find more joy in writing. Whether it be a response to current events, a book they love (or dislike), or even a shopping list for little ones, writing is so valuable for them. A friend of mine sent me some warm, delicious muffins one day and I raved to her over them. She then assigned her seven year-old son to write out the recipe, call me for my address and slip it in the mail. She explained that all kinds of writing, especially that which blesses others, is important for learning. I'm thankful for great mentors who pass along bits of insight to motivate and enrich us.