Last week, I read an article at MomLifeToday.com titled How To Teach Your Child to Do Just About Anything. The article discussed four steps to teaching your child to do anything on their own:
- Do it for them
- Do it with them
- Watch them do it
- Have them do it
I have to say it was the best thing I read all week. I could immediately see all kinds of applications in areas where I had been frustrated in getting my children to be self-reliant. I also saw the pattern in our areas of success, one of which is creative writing.
When I began homeschooling my children, we followed the methods outlined in the book, The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. In it, she describes introducing your children to writing through narration. Basically, you read to your child, or have them read a book, and then let them re-tell the story in their own words. I started this with my children when they were in kindergarten, so I had to do the writing for them. They would tell me their story, I would type it up (or write it down) and we would illustrate it together. This corresponds to the first step – Do It For Them.
As the children developed, we began writing stories of our own together. One of them would have an idea, and I would contribute my thoughts. Sometimes, I would have them write the outline on paper and I would type up the story. However we did it, I was there and fully engaged in the process of creating the report or story that we were working on. This is stage two – Do It With Them.
By the third grade, both my children were writing on their own. I had introduced them to the computer and they could fire it up and begin working on a story or report. However, they frequently got stuck somewhere in the writing process. I still needed to be available to answer/research questions and help brainstorm ideas or move them past any blocks that came up. The blank page can be scary thing to all of us. This is stage three – Watch Them Do It.
As of this writing, my older child is now in stage four – Have Them Do It. She writes at every opportunity she gets and receives my input with skepticism – she knows what she is doing and she’s no longer so sure about mom’s advice. I can go grocery shopping with instructions for her to finish her science or history report while I’m out and know that she won’t have any trouble getting it done. My work here is done!