Too many times as an evaluator for homeschool students, I see children who HATE to write. I can't imagine hating to write but I think I understand where it comes from. Too many times educators and parents put sooo much emphasis on the spelling, grammar, and punctuation that the creativity and fun is lost. I've been guilty of this myself. I guess I had too many years of public schooling in my system and add that to the worry of being the only one now responsible for my children's ability to learn to write well... well even the creative writer in me buckled under pressure to conform to how writing "should be taught."
I've tried at various times to incorporate creative writing just for fun into our homeschooling though. It just hasn't always lasted as it does take time and along with anything else fun and relaxing, I'm guilty of worrying about future SAT scores and setting it to the side. But in the back of my mind I'm thinking...I should write it... a writing curriculum that teaches all that important stuff, sure, but focuses on the creative fun aspects of writing. Maybe one day I will...
One way I've approached it with my kids is to do fun writing exercises they enjoy.
My son, just the other day, asked, "Hey how come we don't do those neat writing things anymore?" I'm guilty. My first thought... 'and just how am I going to fit that in the schedule??' but realized later, 'where there's a will, there must be a way.' So I'm hoping next week to restart those. Even if we manage just once a week it will be good for him and good for me.
This is the exercise we will start with. If I recall correctly, it's his favorite. It's called Stop 'N Shop and I got it out of A Writer's Notebook by Caroline Sharp. With this exercise you imagine you are working as a check-out clerk in a convenience or grocery store. A customer wanders up to the register with about 5 items. Tell their story.... The book suggests coming up with ten character profiles first (29-year-old woman, sixty-four year old widower, etc). My son and I skip that. We just randomly list our items. Then we decide what kind of person might buy those things and why. Here is a sample from some time ago:
The List ( we take turns- one of us comes up with 2 items and the other 3)
- granola bar
The Story (we usually time ourselves with 5 minutes)
This healthy young lady is on her way to yoga class. She has grabbed some granola bars and yogurt for her breakfast before class. She'll have peaches and milk after class. The pickles are a snack she likes to have at night while she's reading. She's weird tha way and knows it's a healthier choice than chips or cookies. After class, she will go to the library where she works. She likes working there amidst all the books and likes recommending her favorites to others.
It's not a prize-winning paragraph, but it's a fun way to be creative. My son and I share one another's stories after we are done writing. Sometimes these stories can be really funny. And guess what else? We DON'T check for spelling, grammar or punctuation. We just have fun because writing SHOULD be fun. I'm looking forward to starting this exercise again.