The "Writing with the Younger Set" Tea with Julie series continues.
Tea with Julie

Welcome to "Tea with Julie," a weekly missive by me, Julie Bogart. My wish is to give you food for thought over a cup of tea to enhance your life as an educator, parent, and awesome adult. Glad you're here. Pinkies up!
P.S. Was this email forwarded to you? 
Add yourself to the list and get your own!

Cincinnati, September 11, 2021

Hi Friend,

How do we avoid damaging young writers?

First we must know that writing grows naturally in writers as they are allowed to develop a relationship to the page that represents their original:

  • thoughts,
  • language,
  • and ideas.

This development will be as meandering as the development of speech, but it will show growth and development nonetheless.

But what happens when natural development is controlled through regulated programs, instead?

What happens when a parent believes that a child doesn’t yet have anything valuable to say and will only have something worth writing when they have absorbed the forms and thoughts of classical writers or those who are mature adult authors?

The Analogy of Speech

If we required children to speak correctly, to use proper manners, to form complete sentences, to only speak once they were able to reproduce what they heard adults say, how much joy would that child take in speaking?

Speech would become a source of anxiety and potential failure rather than a vehicle for communication.

Similarly, writing programs that marshal a child’s writing efforts into preconceived writing formats at a young age:

  • stifle the important development of writer’s voice, 
  • and can ironically strip a child of joy in the process.

The ownership of the writing product is inadvertently stolen from the writer. Children learn then that writing is not about what they want to say, but guessing and working hard to figure out what they are supposed to say.

Over time, this experience can become tedious and even painful. Some children lose heart completely. I’ve taught many students who have come to me as teens who have never known that writing is related to them and their ideas in any way. It is a shock to their systems to realize that I am interested in their thoughts in their own words. And that moment is usually the beginning of recovery of voice.

Tips for Avoiding Painful Writing Experiences

Especially geared toward young writers, ages 6-8.

1. Remember, the best curriculum for this age is still face paints and dress up clothes. Play, exploration, acting out—these teach. Trust the process.

2. Read TO your kids OUT LOUD, everything you see:

  • billboards,
  • refrigerator magnets,
  • ads in magazines you are paging through,
  • funny comments on Facebook as you scroll through your feed,
  • the text your partner just sent,
  • the preface to a book,
  • the instructions for the XBox,
  • newspaper briefs,
  • the side of the spice jar,
  • the back of the muffin mix,
  • the clever tag line on the shoe box…
And yes, read quality literature aloud too. But read everything aloud… freely, often, commenting, laughing about it, noticing it.

3. Play with language. Riddles, jokes, rhymes, poems, puns, secrets, mysteries, the alphabet (write it big, write it small, write it backwards, write it with chalk on the driveway, write it one letter per page, fit all the letters on a post-it note, write every other letter – not easy!), names (family, pets, streets, cities, imaginary friends, real friends, favorite characters). 

4. Have big experiences, explore the world, get outside. 

5. For original writing: they talk, you jot it down. End of discussion. Unless they are choosing to write their own thoughts on their own, you have no obligation to get them to write their own thoughts in their own hand by themselves. If they are writing their own thoughts, hug them—be a fan. Not a word of criticism about spelling, handwriting, story completion, or logic. Just kudos for the surprise of their self-starting joy!

6. For transcription: a fun handwriting book and simple copywork (one word a day can be more than enough for some young kids) are plenty.

7. Pair odious tasks with brownies and hugs.

Just don’t worry yet! You’ll get to worry so much in the teen years (and I'll help you then too!) that you'll pine for these early years.

So I’m here to tell you:

  • play,
  • explore,
  • enjoy.

Pick a fruit no one has ever eaten and eat it. Go to the zoo 3 times a week or the beach or the woods, if you dare. Make recipes for sludge and slime and baking soda volcanoes.

No worrying.





P.S. Catch up on all the “Tea with Julie” emails here!

Julie Bogart
© 2021 Brave Writer LLC™

Brave Writer




Share this email: