Monday, December 7, 2015
One of these little/not so little things occurred last week as I sat down with my children after school to help them with their homework. They had gone to a play date right after early dismissal, with the promise they would focus on homework as soon as we returned. Riding high from the fun at their friend's house, they really did not want to sit down and do something required of them.
All three of the triplets approach nearly everything in different ways. Homework is no exception. They all enjoy reading. But this day, they needed to write. Not just write, but fill an entire blank page. One will fill a whole journal given the opportunity. One needs a little nudge at the beginning of each sentence. The third, he needs a complete explanation, detailed instruction, a pencil, a pencil with an eraser, PLUS hand holding.
This time, my approach worked like a charm. I asked him what he thought the first step was. He shrugged, and I explained that writing actually means a lot of thinking. A little more bewilderment as he looked at his pencil. "My pencil can't think, Mommy". I chuckled, and explained that note taking and thinking are very important parts to writing, before you get to the actual writing. I asked him to read each part of the instructions one at a time. Then we attacked each one. As we did, he wrote down a few key words to remember what he wanted to write. Slowly, his frustration with the blank page lifted ( I can so relate!) and he began to - ENJOY - himself. I saw it flicker across his face as the pencil etched descriptives on his outline. Once he understood the process, he took off. I repeated the whole set up with my daughter, successfully. I was both relieved and amazed at the outcome.
First and foremost, I had the privilege of watching my children cross over from one way of learning to another, and truly love it. The icing was enjoying with them something I love to do, in a new way. I remember learning how to outline somewhere back in middle school, and not liking it at all. I wanted to write and I did not want anyone to tell me how to make it logical. It seemed to me that writing should be felt, not tidied. Obviously that was the thought of the young, yet-to-be-schooled writer in me. I still feel writing, only now I know how to tidy it (mostly) where necessary.The gift of teaching this to my children, especially the first time, was energizing. It was a new kind of excitement for me seeing the excitement in them.
The best part was convincing them that they could write about whatever