Today I was talking with a new homeschooling mom who was very concerned about teaching writing to her daughter. She showed me an example of her girl's writing lessons and my first reaction was "did you write this for her? " The printing was impeccable and the spelling and punctuation perfect.
"How old did you say she is?" I asked.
"She's almost 8."
"And what is your concern?"
I really didn't get it. I saw nothing wrong with this young girl's writing. Sentence structure was fine. The sentences made sense. And the handwriting floored me. I know that often girls are more meticulous than boys but when I thought about my son's handwriting I have to admit I was a little embarrassed. I'm not sure I'd want to show this particular mom a sample of Eric's writing. Especially since she obviously has very high expectations. You see, she was concerned because her daughter had struggled to write this paper. She had complained and whined and fussed. She wanted to go outside and search for bugs not write a paper. Mom was worried that her daughter wasn't up to par with others in her age bracket.
I did my best to reassure her. At the same time, inside of me I wanted to say, "cut the girl some slack!" She has been having her daughter write a daily journal, as well as do all other kinds of writing depending on the curriculum assignments of the day. No wonder the girl was whining! I would whine too if I had to sit for 3 hours a day writing when the world outside was calling me.
Even as a seasoned homeschooler it is hard for me to get parents to understand that this kind of coercive writing is not going to encourage a young child to be creative. She complained to me that her daughter didn't have any ideas for what to write and had a hard time using her imagination. My best advice to her was to ease off. Have her write one story a week. The rest of the time, let her explore her world. As she is given the freedom to do this, I have a feeling the ideas will start to flow.