Monday, November 16, 2009

On Writing

Or maybe it's Penmanship.
But probably it's both, as they each lead to the other, to my way of thinking.

Since these pages are reserved for my family's moments and discoveries and my children's daily stories, I'll try to keep from philosophizing too much.
(And I send this with Trev's permission.)

Trevelyn doesn't write. He doesn't draw, either. He never has. (I don't mean that he never, ever has, just that it isn't an everyday occurrence.)

A year or two ago (he would be six or seven then) I panicked about it for a minute, but then soon came to my senses.

A month ago I handed him a piece of chalk and challenged him to write the alphabet around the perimeter of the trampoline... I just wanted to know if he could. Because, you know... he doesn't.
He could and did.

Around here we operate within a boundary of what I deem as Unschooling. Which to me means learning and growing naturally. That doesn't mean that every little thing is hidden from an individual so that they may discover it in their own time, independently and rapturously themselves (for example, I was buying children's books long before I ever had children), because I'm really comfortable saying "check this out!" and "Guys! Let's create!". But that does mean that I don't assert my supposed greater wisdom to school them.

So Trev doesn't write. Because he just wasn't interested.

And then something happened... the last two times he's gone to write something down, he's gotten frustrated with his inability to do it.
Angry, almost. He's felt thwarted.

The first time I helped him, and it didn't go so hot, and soon after we let it go.
He knows what the letters are supposed to look like - he reads very well - he just isn't able to make them come out of his hand the way he knows they are supposed to look. (Perfect, to him.)

A few days later I was reading a review of some book, and came across Peggy Kaye's Games for Writing. We have Reading, and I've been a fan of Games for Math for a few years, so I ordered it from the library, just to see.

When he made his next attempt for writing a few days later, he of course again got very frustrated after two, I think, letters.

The great thing about Questioning Everything - meaning not operating in a space of "we do it this way because this is the way it has always been done" is that it leads to really great discoveries like the honest power of Communication.
Instead of having this be a matter of Teaching, which I see as manipulative and "let's help you do this because other people say you Should", I took it to Trev.
And we had a conversation about it.
I asked him if he wanted to be able to write, I told him my thoughts and observations, I let him know that everyone learns to write by doing it - that no one was perfect at it the first time they tried it, and I told him about the book.
"I got it because I thought it might have some cool games in it for us to play while learning to write (with ease). Want me to check it out, and find some games I think you'd enjoy?"
He did.

So we are.
Not because I feel like he should be writing. And not even because he has a burning desire to write all day.

But because it is something he now sees as useful to him.

Which means, of course,
He's ready to learn it.


  1. That rocks! Totally cool. I have a frustrated writer here, but more because she does not spell PERFECTLY. But since she was a reluctant reader I suppose this could have a link. However, like with Trev, she has been reading because she has been needing to lately, and so I suspect this will improve on it's own. It's a funny thing, but so effective because it's truly self driven.

  2. Love this post!
    So glad I have your examples to reflect on in our own journey. thank you. :)

  3. an amazing and timely post....thanks for sharing this..

  4. I think your last sentance sums it up!
    Last night I made the mistake of just casually saying to Lo(who was writting some letters-she LIKES this)something along the lines of," have you learned anything about how to hold a pencil at school? When your ready someday you'll hold your pencil like this" and I modeled. WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING!?!? She tried holding it like me and got totally frustrated and was soon saying,"Now I can't remember how I was holding it BEFORE!!!".
    GOOD one, mom.
    ~walks away hanging head in shame.....

  5. Love to hear about all this. After our recent mathscapades, I walked into E's room where she was listening to a story and had written herself a sheet of addition problems, and had figured them all out. "Oh mom, were you calling? I was busy, doing math." Love all of Kaye's books; they've been really helpful in playing with reading, math, etc. when "doing" it wasn't well received. Yay! You are such an in-tune mama.

  6. Timely and helpful! Wrote thank you cards today with Dear son, been doing some play of letter practice, but the cards was too much it seems. Need more play, need to give him time.

  7. Suffice it to say I'll be ordering the Peggy Kaye book and I wish I could say I haven't panicked about Owen's lack of writing.... but I have.

    He shows interest in the creative writing process, but finds the penmanship aspect very difficult so he dictates to me and I write it down and we're practicing on the typewriter and keyboard.

    Time, I am sure- will yield a happy writer :)

    Trev is lucky to have you as a partner in his learning.. :)

  8. On so beautiful. Mama listening to her heart and following it. Your son is lucky to have a mama like you.

  9. Are you a fellow lefty? I was just noticing your writing. ;o)

  10. My boys write *only* because they like to make lists. Lists of holiday gifts, birthday gifts, what they want to get with their allowance. He he. A has started writing stories/comics too now, but mostly...lists. Lists for parents, grandma, aunts...lots of lists! ;P


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!