Sunday, November 4, 2012

"I want to be a writer"

"If you wish to be a writer, write." ~Epictetus

We had our first real writing lesson. My almost 10 year old and I sat at the computer and brainstormed and collaborated and wrote some good sounding sentences. Don't get me wrong I've been trying to teach writing since he could scrawl out a few words in one sitting. We started with copying good writing: verses of scripture, first sentences of the best children's books, poems. Then we moved on to narrations: my sons write out or just verbally tell me a summary of what I've read. sometimes I get decent summaries out of my oldest here but most times he puts all his effort into choosing the shortest possible words (in order to write the least amount he can possibly get away with. I've been trying to move on to some real writing exercises but my writing phobic son hasn't been into it.

So this week my son asks if he can type his narration. I say sure. He starts and manages to type three sentences in about 20 minutes. Then he says "mom this is taking really long. Can you help me type?". I say sure. And he dictates some sentences to me. And they are good. They're descriptive and well constructed and I can tell he's proud when I tell him so. He gives me a few more sentences and I give suggestions and he doesn't balk at my ideas (I realize it's because there's no eraser and rewriting involved). We talk about strong opening sentences and good closing sentences. And he listens. He doesn't complain. He brainstorms even more ideas. Then he reads it through when we're done. He asks me to change a thing or two and I do. Then he asks if he can can change the font. I say sure. He spends the next 10 minutes playing with different options. He chooses one, bumps up the size to fill the page and he hits print. He asks if he can have a page protector. I say sure. And he is beaming as he slips the paper in the sleeve. I say "we're gonna keep that one. It'll be worth money someday when you become a famous writer". He smiles big and says "yeah, I want to be a writer. An author maybe." Then I smile big.

(I must add that much of this was made possible because my dear 7 year old was busy playing and drawing and being really cute all on his own).

This week we also skipped written math and arithmetic drill  to play games and read about the history of numbers and early mathematicians. They loved it. So did I. 

Real lessons don't come because I have it on the schedule. They come when the learning doesn't feel like torture. And it's ok that the lesson plan still had things undone because if we had pushed and rushed to get through the written work or through the next math chapter I wouldn't have boys dreaming of becoming authors or smiling during our "math" games. Our main objective in our educating and raising these children has to be sharing our love for a subject, any subject, or all of them. And then showing them how they can love it too.

It's weeks like this that remind me why I do what I do.


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