Helping children find their ‘writing voice’
When our children take their first hesitant steps in writing parents tend to focus on the tangible things; can they hold a pencil correctly? Will they ever learn the difference between ‘b’ and ‘d’? Why does a finger space have to be more like a fist space? Then we move onto the dreaded spelling tests, the joys of knowing the phonetic alphabet better than our own phone number, and the sheer hair-pulling frustration of explaining the necessity of a full-stop.
When they have mastered the basics though, there is still a huge amount to learn. The problem for parents is that the next stages in a child’s writing journey are less tangible. We move onto written comprehension, creative writing, and the need for children to develop their confidence. Children also need to learn the parameters of the ‘written voice’, and the opportunities that it can give them. Writing can allow children a huge amount of freedom to experiment with ideas and language, far more than they would have in their everyday verbal interactions, but it can be difficult for them to express themselves on the page.
This is where thinking such as Ros Wilson’s Big Writing approach can be illuminating. Wilson, an educational expert with over fifty years experience, has formulated a method that is based on the idea that ‘if a kid can’t say it, a kid can’t write it’. Big Writing focuses on a number of areas that children need to engage with the written word, and also encourages them to build their writing stamina at an appropriate pace. And like most things in education, parental support can add significantly enhance the child’s experience. As parents, we have to be careful not to see learning to write as merely a matter of spellings and rules. If we help build our children’s confidence in writing, and encourage them to experience the joy in creating with words, we have truly given them a fantastic and lifelong gift.
For an opportunity to hear Ros Wilson in person on April 28th at the SandPit Theatre – book here