An Experiment in Writing...

Writing has long since been a bit of an enigma here in our home. In early years, my daughter would write something and show me with great pride and I would begin correcting the work. Her face we quickly deplete of all joy and pride. Oh to take back some of those beginning mistakes.

Over time, my mind began to wrap around the idea that writing is a bit like training for a marathon. No one would dare begin running the whole way without proper training yet that is what we expect from our children. Imagination may not always meet the skill level of the child or viceversa. The basics of writing begin with the basics of phonics and grammar and even handwriting.

Today we did an experiment here at home. I had my 8 year old look at three pictures and then orally tell me the story of the pictures. He was thrilled at the possibility so with my pen in hand I began to put his words to paper as follows:

Boots and the Turtle

There once a cat named Boots. She found a turtle on the side of the road. First she was inside. She just finished taking a nap. She decided to go outside. As she went outside she saw a turtle. She walked around and looked and the turtle stopped. It couldn't move because the turtle was in the way. The turtle was frightened so he stuck his body in. The cat Boots jumped on him. She only wanted to play. The turtle didn't want to so she went home.

A few hours later she came back out. She had played with her owner. Then she went back outside. She saw the exact same turtle again. The turtle had walked and walked slowly. Boots was giving herself a bath. She was licking her paw and crossing it around her head. The turtle finally talked to her. As the turtle talked, his mother called him. She told him he was an hour late for dinner. His house was only across the street. She said he only had three hours to get home so he said goodbye to Boots and then he went across the street. Boots said goodbye. He went home. Boots took another nap.  THE END...for now or until another day.

As he narrated his story he began editing his own words (as illustrated with the strike through). He finished narrating the first paragraph and then asked if he could continue. I decided to do an experiment and then asked him to write down the story. It is as follows.

Boots and the Turtle

There once was a cat named Boots. She saw a turtle. She wanted to play. It stuck its head in so Boots left.

So what can I assess from this little experiment? The skill of handwriting needs to be improved because he grew quite tired of actually writing not story-telling. Also the skill of grammar needs to be practiced. After reading over his work I pointed out that he used no proper punctuation and capitalization. In the past I may have been tempted to run out and grab an editing or grammar workbook and a handwriting workbook. Now I know that we will begin focusing on copywork. By modeling proper grammar we will help visualize sentence structure. Copywork will also accomplish handwriting exercises.

Sometimes we need to take a step back to truly understand what is needed for our children. This helps us to become better teachers.


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