When I was teaching my whole Language Arts program was based on writing. (Yes, we followed the curriculum as mandated by the province - we just based a lot of it on writing) The children wrote first thing every day. They sometimes wrote with a friend, sometimes they wrote alone - but they almost always sought feedback from the class on what they were working on. It was a terrific process. I found it totally inspiring and a really fun and effective way to teach. Don Green was our mentor in it all and I found interaction with him and his wife, Anne, totally inspiring. I've done a bit of searching and there are a few programs I've found that use his approach in their enrichment programs for honors students. There's even a private school in Calgary whose program is based on their approach.
So, coming back off that tangent - I make my kids write every morning. There are a few reasons: some of them educational, and some of them simple parent survival. My kids have always been early risers. It doesn't matter what time they go to bed...they always get up about the same time - which is some time between 5:30 and 6:00 or so. Going to bed late doesn't affect what time they wake up - it just determines whether they wake up grumpy or happy. So our rule is that they stay in their rooms and work on stories and then play. They can write whatever they want....just as long as they write something every day. It seems that I don't have to work very hard to push them along with a topic. When left to their own accord they seem to be able to find something to interest them each day. Peirce draws pictures and then later he gets Jill or Allen or myself to write some words for him. Jill doesn't usually draw anymore - mostly she just writes.
I thought I'd share their stories from today. I really get a kick out of them.
I think Jill was testing to see if she really could write about anything. It sure made me laugh to read hers today! Just in case it's too hard to read, I've transcribed her story here (I've corrected her spelling mistakes. The punctuation isn't all fixed up...but I think you'll get a kick out of it anyway):
Why Picking Your Nose is Good
Yipee! I just bought a hamster! So we still haven't bought a cage. And just between you and me I pick my nose (and that crack under the door? Well, I put them there.) We put my hamster in a cardboard box and one day my hamster excaped. I know she didn't go out of my room because of my boogers. Now look! She's sleeping on the bed. Well, my mom says we can go buy a cage tomorrow.
Peirce writes about tornados quite often, and crabs often appear in the stories too. Today though it was a totally different topic - the TV exploded! Maybe it's just a mom thing, but I love his drawings. He can work on something like this for 30 minutes. It's amazing how much effort is put into all those little circles and squares. Jill wrote the words for him today.