What You’re Not Doing
But what about journaling, book reports, and imaginative writing?
In Years One through Four, it’s not necessary for the student to do original writing. In fact, original writing (which requires not only a mastery of both steps of the writing process, but the ability to find something original to say) is beyond the developmental capability of many students.
There is plenty of time for original writing as the student’s mind matures. During the first four years, it is essential that students be allowed instead to concentrate on mastering the process: getting ideas into words, and getting those words down on paper.
Some children may be both anxious and willing to do original writing. This should never be discouraged. However, it should not be required either. Students who are required to write, write, write during elementary school are likely to produce abysmal compositions. Take the time to lay a foundation first; during the middle- and high-school years, the student can then build on it with confidence.
In the Well Trained Mind forums, in response to the common lament of children shutting down when it comes to creative writing, she had this to say,
"[I]t's absolutely NOT necessary for an educated person to write creatively. You either enjoy it, or you don't, and forcing a child who doesn't have a bent for creative writing to do creative assignments can result in a child who loathes ALL kinds of writing."
Here's another favorite nugget from The Three Stages:
It’s important to resist the my-child’s-writing-more-than-your-child pressure.
Your neighbor’s seventh grader may be doing a big research paper, while your seventh grader is still outlining and rewriting. Don’t fret. Those research papers have been thrown at that seventh grader without a great deal of preparation. He’s probably struggling to figure out exactly what he’s doing, making false start after false start, and ending up with a paper which is largely rehashed encyclopedia information. I’ve taught scores of students who went through classroom programs which had them doing book reports, research papers, and other long assignments as early as third grade. This doesn’t improve writing skill; it just produces students who can churn out a certain number of pages, when required.
As someone who’s had to read those pages, I can testify that this approach is not, across the board, working.
Finally, someone really gets it.
New from Susan Wise Bauer:
Writing with Ease: Strong Fundamentals
Writing with Ease Workbook 1
Writing with Ease Workbook 2
First Language Lessons 4