This is not a post about Freddie 😉 It’s a home ed post. Try to remain calm.
It has probably not escaped the attention of anyone that i write about my feelings. I’m not a terribly coherent writer, nor do i think i paint pictures with my words all that well. I certainly don’t use complex language or clever words. I think my writing comes out more or less as i speak – which means it is mostly quite incoherent, i suspect!
But for someone who has always loved to write and who made stories up, on paper on in her head, from when she was very little, i’ve not done a very good job of instilling that in my daughters. I think that they mostly don’t take after me much at all, they are far more like their Daddy, who was not a reader or writer as a child. Neither Fran nor Maddy were decent readers until they were 8 and Fran resolutely refused to write well beyond then. When she went to school a year ago, she had only really been writing at all for a year and although that put her a little behind the ‘levels’ on that one thing, her teacher did remark that considering how relatively recently she had become a writer, she had achieved quite a lot in a short time. Maddy is different again; i think she has genuine learning difficulties where it comes to sounds and letters and while she reads beautifully and has a wonderful voice when it comes to putting together words to convey a meaning, the mechanics of spelling and whole words are still a massive stumbling block to her. She is a child who would have coped fine in my PNEU school, while narration was in place but would be struggling now. We work very hard on those skills for her – but it is work on a steep upward hill.
A great advantage for both of them has been that they can use laptops to write and that as home educators, we can throw off the issues of “handwriting”, particularly for Maddy as combining hand, brain and thought of what to write is, for her, simply a step too far. She writes and works on a laptop, as i am quite sure she would have been allowed to do in school. Fran works in a combination – she blogs, she writes work on a laptop and she writes with her hand when she does English. She has also, since April, written a mini diary which seems to have given her an emotional outlet and has certainly helped her to find her voice.
It is the “voice” of writing that i really want to help them with now. I’ve explored, and largely disregarded, much of the National Curriculum style programme of “write as if you are….” – yes, it works of itself, but it isn’t real and it is hard to find a real voice if the subject isn’t one you have a passion for. But on the other hand, i know i often enjoyed those exercises at school and got something from them. I know that it has allowed me, as i’ve grown older, to adopt a style for a piece of writing knowing that it is appropriate and it also helps me spot when i am mimicking a style. I have a real habit of doing that – on any day you i can see from my blog if i have read something else in a particular style first.
Along with voice as an abstract thing, being able to write for a journal, write in a time period, write in a style, write a poem, write as a person doing xyz, write a report, a letter, an article it is also important to help them find their own voice. I know it is likely they won’t want to be writers as a career choice, but i’d like them to have the opportunity to reject creative writing having tried it. It makes me sad when they say they don’t like it, because i know that is effectively just “i find it hard, don’t know how”. i find it baffling that me, the maths phobic, has created children who love maths but fear writing.
So this week and probably all month, we are focusing on writing. The mechanics of it, yes, the actual commitment of it definitely, the styles of it, yes. We’re going to write every day, all of us, trying out different ways of using written word. We’re looking at beginnings, middles and endings. We’re looking at description. We’re looking at punctuation for effect as well as for linguistics. We’re trying out creating a record and we’re trying out creating a fantasy. Fran has written about her holiday and Maddy is writing about her PGL trip. We’re looking at each others work to see what could be better.
And i’d like some ideas – what do you write about? What inspires you or your kids? What could we do here to explore writing for fun? Do you have any resources online that inspire you? Where does you voice come from? Has your child learned a writing voice because of a particular passion or experience or mode of communication?
Talk to me.