Over the summer I was asked to help a number of children with their writing.
Writing seemed to be a real sticking point for these children.
These children were creative, they were so full of ideas that they spilled out of their mouths in a glorious tumble of words.
But when it came to writing;
• they refused,
• or distracted,
• or drew,
• or wrote with huge letters that filled the page,
• or tiny letters that you could not see,
• or used scruffy handwriting you could not read.
When questioned these children could not see a value in writing. There was no purpose.
Purpose, enthusiasm and curiosity are the best motivators for learning. Why would you want to learn something when you couldn’t understand the reason and it seemed boring?
The first few sessions I had with these children were all about setting a purpose for writing. We read books the children brought with them, instructions for games, Top Trumps cards, we read anything and everything. Suddenly we began to think of a purpose for writing, thinking of our audience gave us a purpose.
From here we made sure we always knew our audience and a ‘Why’, ‘Why’ were we writing for that person? Was it to say thank you to Granny for a present to show gratitude? Was it to make a book for a younger sibling to read to make them happy? Was it to share our knowledge about crocodiles with a larger audience, because more people need to know how long they can survive under water?
Once these children found their purpose and enthusiasm their writing came more naturally. I didn’t correct every mistake and make them look at all their punctuation and grammar, ensuring subordinate clauses were used in at leat 5 sentences, I just let them enjoy creating.
We can not improve children’s writing if they do not write.
It is now nearing the end of summer. I have spent many hours helping to create Top Trumps cards, books for younger children, thank you notes, game rules, lists, recipes and more.
Together the children and I have visited shops, parks, woodlands and beaches, we have written on walls, sand, floors and paper. We have used chalk, paint, water, sticks and pens.
We have pursued their passions and fleeting ideas. We have recorded and shared our experiences and our imaginations and more importantly these children have rediscovered their purpose as writers and learners.