Last week, I wrote about the constant questioning of the choices we make for our children, which come from a desire to feel that we are doing our best for them. I’m sure all parents feel this at some time or another, but I wrote about it in terms of having chosen to a) home educate our children and b) do so in an unstructured/autonomous way. I finished that piece with a lovely moment of validation and now I want to tell you about another, very welcome one which happened a couple of days ago.
Bean is perfectly capable of writing and of writing eloquently (if messily – that’s 9 year old, left-handed boys for you, if I may be allowed to generalise for a moment!), but he doesn’t like writing. He prefers talking. A lot. At school, his lack of writing was a problem and it came up every single parents’ evening. It was frustrating. We couldn’t physically force him to write. We talked to him about it. He felt he was distracted. We agreed, though he felt he was distracted by other children (and it didn’t matter who was near him, so either that wasn’t it, or he was very easily distracted!) and we felt he was a bit of a daydreamer (a lot of a daydreamer).
Either way, the lack of writing was cited as a problem all the time. They had no evidence, you see. All his teachers, throughout the three years he was at school, agreed that he was bright, making good progress, coping well with school – and one even said he was the brightest child in his year group , but she couldn’t prove it because he never wrote anything down. That’s certainly a problem when the system you have to work within is geared up to measure progress and ability through written evidence for the most part.
The issue for Bean was that he never really saw the need to write things down. Things that interested him were remembered, without effort. He would take in every word that his teacher said, come home, do more research, remember it all. So what was the need for writing? Things that didn’t interest him didn’t need writing down because they didn’t interest him, so why bother? I can’t argue with his logic.
Once we took him out of school the first thing his father and I agreed on was that we would try not to worry about writing. We knew that to try and force the issue would create a problem which didn’t really exist. He would happily write a letter to Santa, or postcards so we decided to leave it to come naturally. We’ve had to remind ourselves of that a few times over the last 18 months, when writing has happened rarely. But that’s OK. And here’s why.
He recently read Diary of a Wimpy Kid and he got really into it. He talked a lot about it. We watched the film. He read the next book. And then he asked me for a journal that he could keep his own diary in. He wants to write down his thoughts, write song lyrics, cool ideas …. HE WANTS TO WRITE!
And so I bought him a journal. And he loves it. And he spent some quiet time designing a cover page for it and deciding what his first, important piece of writing in it will be. I’m so happy!