The writer at work, in her own time.
Maggie, my early and enthusiastic reader, has been much slower to write. There are a combination of factors at play, I think. For one thing, her early reading seemed to thwart her rather than help her, since her ability to form written language was so far behind all her other language skills–and she knew it. She always resisted any kind of inventive spelling, and was frustrated with getting things “wrong.” And like many lefties, she has found the simple mechanics of holding and pencil and forming letters to be challenging. So while we’ve made some strides over the past months, Maggie has continued to feel like writing isn’t something that she’s good at. We’ve had some success with dictation, so she can focus on storytelling and leave the lettering to me, but my instinct has been that she could use some sort of support or push or encouragement that I wasn’t providing.
So, on something of a whim, I signed Maggie up for a writing workshop for homeschoolers. I wasn’t sure how it would work, but she was interested, so I thought it was worth a try. I had a promising conversation with the teacher, so I signed her up, set the alarm clock (!) and set out for the class on Monday morning.
Maggie emerged telling me that it was “awesome.” The teacher had given her some practical tips, like writing smaller and writing “messy,” i.e. not worrying about making beautiful letters. She was thrilled about her homework, and tackled it with abandon. Then she turned to the story she started yesterday, and began writing. And writing. And writing.
In the hammock…
In the chair…
and at the counter.
She spent literally hours bent over her notebook, working on her story. I had to drag her away from it to finally feed her some dinner at 7 p.m. She returned to it after bath, and her last waking activity was to read what she had written (the first chapter!) to her dad.
Sometimes, I am just astonished at how dense I am. At how hard it can be to trust that she will learn what she needs when she needs it. I admit it–I’ve been fretting more than a little about how to support my young writer. But when I was watching her tonight, poring over her story, I realized that we’ve already been down this path so many times. With swimming. With piano. Maggie really needs to come to things in her own time. Now, I admit that the timely support of adults has also been important, but I seem to have to learn over and over that given time and support, it really will all come together.
In fact, I blogged about almost exactly this same thing just about a year ago. Apparently it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I guess Maggie’s not the only one who needs to come to things in her own time.