When my son Duncan was about six or seven years old, his head was bursting with stories he wanted to tell. Every morning he would sit in front of an old manual typewriter and hammer on the keys and his tale would appear on the paper. While he worked, his face was lit up with a huge smile. His whole body vibrated with sheer delight.
“Would you like to see my story, Mum?” Duncan would ask when the final word had been typed.
“Why don’t you read it to me?” I’d answer. My son had his own system of spelling and so his words were rather a mystery to me.
So we sat side-by-side and Duncan bounced up and down with excitement while he shared his story. They were great stories. I was always amazed by his imagination. They were stories worth telling.
Duncan also loved drawing. Every story had to be illustrated with detailed pictures. When he’d finished both writing and drawing, I encouraged him to file his work away in a writing folder. Soon his folder was bursting.
I still have that folder stored away in the garage somewhere. Once when we moved house, I severely pruned back our possessions, but I couldn’t part with Duncan’s book. I will always remember my small enthusiastic story-teller whenever I open it.
I guess I could have translated Duncan’s stories for him. I could have typed them out with proper spelling and punctuation. But I didn’t really have time because I was so busy with our little ones. And anyway, Duncan thought his stories were perfect as they were, so why interfere?
There are a few different skills involved in writing. There are the physical skills such as handwriting or typing. Then there’s spelling and punctuation and grammar. Finally, there’s the content which is, to me, the most important part. What is the point of having perfect handwriting and spelling if you have nothing worth saying? So I always encourage the imagination, the telling of the tale. Everything else will gradually fall into place…
That story is an unfinished post I wrote several years ago. I don’t know why I never got around to posting it. Perhaps it doesn’t have much of a message. It could just be a happy memory. Anyway, I remembered it because I told this story in this week’s podcast. Yes, I was thinking about Duncan and his amazing stories.
In this week’s episode, I speak about children and writing because I often get asked, “How did you encourage your kids to write?”
I also speak about the youngest child in the family. Being the last born could be a good position to be in because you get a more experienced mother, but what are some of the negatives about being at the bottom end of the family?
Here’s a quick summary of my podcast:
- Do youngest children have a privileged position in the family?
- Or do they have things harder than people might imagine?
- Did my eldest child suffer because she had an inexperienced mother?
- Can youngest children have an advantage when it comes to learning?
- How can we encourage children to write?
- What about spelling?
- And handwriting?
- And what if a child, despite our efforts, just doesn’t want to write?
Children and writing
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