Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Writing with Children

Everyone loves stories, but not everyone realizes what stories can do for us. They aren't there only to entertain (although that is certainly enough!). Sometimes, a story can bring a child out into the world.

Today, for instance, I spent the morning at my son's preschool. I was there to read a story and then talk to the children (ages 3-5) about making their own stories. We went over how stories should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. For most of the children, this was all they could grasp at this point. (And some still had a hard time with it, which is fine. Even grownups have a hard time with this.) After we had our little lesson, I sat down with each kid one at a time and wrote down their stories. (This was at a child-sized table, I might add, with a child-sized chair.)

Each child was adorable and brilliant, but it was one particular girl who blew me away. Flora hovered around the table, waiting for her turn, and then ran to the chair as soon as another child left it. The teachers were surprised she was so eager to tell me a story. She barely spoke to the teachers, and she had been there for two years. It's not that she cannot talk--it's that English is her second language, and she is hesitant to use it yet. (I felt the same way when I was in Japanese school.)

I got my pen ready and asked her to start. She smiled, opened her mouth, and poured this out:

(I hope you can read it.)

The teachers were in tears. This girl had finally spoken, and her story was amazing!

My son, on the other hand, gave me two sentences before running off to play with cars. He had a great beginning, and that's all I can ask for.