One of the questions posed to me during our Q & A was that of teaching writing—especially of the incredible frustration on the part of many younger students (which translated into incredible frustration for their parents!). As I was trying to gather my travel-weary wits, a Maori father began to share marvelous wisdom that I would like to share with you.
He spoke to us all about the many steps which must simultaneously be taken in order to write something:
- handwriting, or penmanship;
- sentence construction, or grammar;
- adequate and accurate use of vocabulary;
- concepts and ideas to be expressed;
- logical flow of ideas;
- and more.
- As adults, if there is something to write, we simply write it. We don't struggle over penmanship, spelling, sentence construction. or vocabulary. We spend most of our time on the concepts and logic. However, it's not the same at all for younger students who are just beginning the journey of communicating through the written word. For them, it's a massive, glacier-covered mountain with formidable ice-fields and no visible paths.
So, as parents with children who need to learn to write, what do we do?
This incredibly wise and thoughtful father suggested that we break down the steps for our children. Where is it that they are finding the insurmountable obstacle? Is it in penmanship? Spelling? Grammar? Vocabulary? Idea? Logic? At which point along the way are they being overwhelmed? If we can break down each of the steps, walking them through one by one, it will soon become evident where the difficulties lie, and we can gently provide help—coming alongside lovingly and kindly—until they have the needed skills for that point.
It's not a quick fix. It doesn't work if you are frustrated and angry. It will not happen if you are pressured by the goals set by someone else who does not know your child and their unique situation.
But, if you can patiently break down the task, helping them little by little to acquire the necessary dexterity for writing, they will eventually climb that mountain!