How quick we are as parents or teachers to pull out the red pen and start “correcting” our children’s attempts at writing, all in the name of good teaching! This comes naturally to most of us who had more than one paper returned tattooed in crimson!
Yet, this is one of the best ways to DESTROY the creative spirit of your writer. Every step of the “Writing Traffic Light” needs to be celebrated as part of the process of writing.
The best way to get your children to write is for YOU to start writing. YOU need to write using the “Writing Traffic Light” process. Get a journal and start writing down quotes, ideas, thoughts, and memories. Do the activities listed in the “I’m Excited About Writing, Where Do I Start?” chapter. Do those first, then invite your children to join you in the fun! Inspire them though your example!
Climb over the fear of writing. You cannot show your children how to write, if you fear it. Give yourself permission to write—tell yourself, “These first entries in my writing journal may be rough—in fact, this first writing journal is just that—my first attempt. It WILL be jumbled and unorganized, and that’s OK!” Then start! You may be pleasantly surprised at the words that come out when you give yourself permission to simply try.
I’ve seen the writing process come full circle. As a child, I wrote with my parent’s help. As a parent, I’ve done writing activities with my own children, and as an adult, I have had the privilege of encouraging my parents to write. How has writing blessed my life? The answer: by learning to write and then writing to learn. Writing has become an integral part of my life.
Writing has taught me one of life’s great lessons: to overcome fear and to try. I have taught this to my students and my family. We don’t fear or feel failure when we don’t succeed the first time we try something any more. We know that this is the first step the first try, and that we will edit and make it better in the next steps! This has been a huge breakthrough in our lives—not just in writing. This frees us to try ANYTHING!
Who knew all this could stem from the pleasure of a 4th grade girl who, in her best handwriting, wrote a bunch of stories, poems, and riddles into a book with a homemade cover and sewn pages. The pride and pleasure that book has brought me is immeasurable. That book sits on my bed stand, not as a great literary read, but as a monument of what writing can do for a child’s self-esteem. If I help but one child feel the same joy, then I have succeeded. If I can help others to slow down and see the great meaning in their life though the simple medium of writing, then I will have succeeded.