The other day, Sophie appeared with a huge smile on her face. “I’ve written a blog post,” she announced, and then added, “I wrote it your way. It’s like one of your stories.”
“Tell me about it,” I encouraged.
“Well, I mentioned my feelings as well as the action… and I used the present tense like you do sometimes. I like the present tense. It puts the reader right in the middle of the action.” Sophie is right. I use this tense a lot. I really love it too.
Sophie handed me her computer so I could read what she’d written. Here’s her post…
I am excited, Mum has arranged for me to have piano lessons. For the past few years Imogen has been teaching me. She is a good teacher, but being taught by your sister is not the same as having a professional teacher.
Imogen, Charlotte and I troop up to the front door. I am ready to impress my new teacher. Our teacher opens the door smiling. She is a kind woman and she says that I can have the first lesson.
I am a bit nervous. Will I be good enough? Have I practised enough? All these thoughts run through my head as I enter the music room.
I have only ever played on an upright piano, but my teacher has a grand one. I wonder what it will be like to play on one.
The teacher asks me what scales I can play and soon I am enjoying myself, showing my teacher what I have learnt and what I am learning.
She patiently listens to what I play and fixes up the mistakes. She starts to make things more fun and exciting than I ever thought possible and I listen all ears and try to do as she says.
All too soon my lesson is over. It is Charlotte’s turn to be taught. I start picking up my books and folder. My teacher picks up a chocolate and hands it to me. I cannot believe it, nor can Imogen and Charlotte. In all the years that they had been having piano lessons, they have never got chocolates. I feel very happy and special.
Piano is more fun than work now. I can’t wait for my next lesson.
What do you think? That’s not bad for an 11 year old girl who’s never been taught to write, is it?
Sophie hasn’t done any punctuation or grammar or comprehension exercises. She has never written a set composition. I haven’t even taught her all the different uses for writing. She has just listened and read, and observed other family members writing and discussing writing. Then she has gone away, eager to follow our example, and write herself.
I think about all the complicated learn-to-write methods my husband uses with his primary school class: all those worksheets and activities that concentrate on one skill at a time. Are they really necessary for homeschoolers? Or is it enough to provide an environment where there is enthusiasm, good example, and reasons to write?
All my children write. They write for pleasure, as well as need. Is that because they are following my example? Do they get caught up in my excitement? Maybe they assume writing is something everyone does, because those around them do it. Or could it be the literature we read or the discussions we enjoy? Maybe we just have lots of thoughts we want to put into words. Do we all have lots of real reasons for writing, and so it seems a valuable skill to have? Or is the desire to write purely hereditary? Were my children and I meant to be writers? Perhaps I am just one of the lucky mothers that doesn’t have to worry her children won’t write, because we all have the right genes. I often ponder these thoughts. And occasionally I write about them.
What do you think?
I sometimes wonder what would happen if a non-writing parent suddenly became an enthusiastic writer. Would her children follow suit? That would be a very interesting experiment. Or are there enthusiastic child writers whose parents hate writing? They could have other mentors, I suppose.
And I also wonder what skills my children don’t have just because I’ve never been interested enough to try and gain them, and model them myself.
“Would you like to listen to a chapter of my novel, Mum?” asks Sophie. Soon I am enjoying the latest tale of the Bean family.
“So what was your favourite character?” Sophie asks, as she closes her computer. She is eager to hear my reply.
“Mr Cracker! Yes, I really loved Mr Cracker,” I answer.
Sophie smiles widely. “Do you know the best thing about writing?”
I think I do. It’s having someone to share it with. I guess we all enjoy sharing things we love, don’t we?