Tag Archives: Children

Does this make senses?

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Does this make senses?

“What do you think of this sentence?” I asked the class. “Is there anything wrong with it?

We don’t teach a grammar class, my friend and I, we teach creative writing at a homeschool campus that is an offshoot of the public school district. We are “parent helpers” not paid teachers.

It gets worse: For six of the last seven years we have been quietly, gloriously, subversively imploring our students to ignore grammar, spelling and format, and just write. We tell them that all that formality and structure can be ignored for 90 minutes. All of that can (and will) come later, after the creativity has been let out of its structured, school-system cage.

Should we be booted out? Reigned in? Given strict boundaries?

Perhaps.

Yesterday we had our largest class ever: 30 kids. In years past, our largest group was about twenty, with an average weekly class size of about 10-15.

“Mom, were you worried when you saw so many kids in there today?” asked my youngest after class, though she knew the answer already. Thirty kids in our classroom who were there by choice—who either already love to write or don’t but have heard, through the school grapevine that this writing class is different, fun? I could not have been more thrilled. I still am.

Does this make senses?

Our kids write (and often share) sensuous, funny, moving, oft-illustrated, brilliant pieces in genres they haven’t been formally taught (fiction, sci-fi, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, poetry, improv, fan-fiction, and more). This is what comes out of their funny, serious, deep, beautiful minds: sans mandates.

Yesterday one of our youngest students, a tender-hearted seven year old invited to class because his older sister already attends, shared his story with the class orally: over the weekend his precious fish died.

Last year, an older boy who had been viciously bullied in public school shared a poem so beautiful (and absent angst) that I was moved to tears (were it not for my teacher hat, I would have stood there sobbing).

Two weeks ago a boy with perfect handwriting but zero confidence as a writer stood up and read the beginnings of his sci-fi story. It was his first day in class. The story, brilliant.

Does this make senses?

If you think you are hearing tooted horns, think again. My friend and I are mere spectators, facilitators of creativity that is already pulsing inside these astonishing kids. Sometimes we see it first and gently coax it out. Other times, it bursts forward, unbidden.

Yesterday after our class on writing with the senses, a new student brought me a two-page essay he had written at home: “This is just for you to read,” he said, “I don’t want you to share it with the class, but I worked really hard on it and I’m proud of it.”

This makes perfect senses to me.

 

 

Weed

The other day, my youngest rescued a discarded weed from the ground. She walked into the ballet studio holding it.

Seconds later a little boy about four years old said, “Mommy, what is that? What does she have?”

With little patience and a dose of disgust she replied (in full earshot of my daughter), “It’s just a weed.”

We looked at each other, my daughter and I–a knowing look passing between us. I could hear us both thinking along the lines of, “She doesn’t know. She can’t see how beautiful this pretty weed is. How sad.”

And it was beautiful. It had been chosen for the way it stood out among the living, the way its faded glory contrasted the vibrant colors all around it, and for its unique shape, crisp from the sun.

Children often look at life without predefined boundaries. They see beauty and possibility in things others discard; things that go unnoticed by most.

I’m trying to see my world through their eyes more often. Children everywhere fascinate me.

I love their faces.

I love their conversations.

I love their ideas.

I love their haphazard treasures, their rambling thoughts, and their discarded “weeds”.

Balance (A Tribute to Children)

The timer dings! It’s time for the next group of excited children to rush out into the muddy muck and claim a raft. For the next five minutes, the children, who have grabbed a bowish oar and perched themselves precariously upon a piece of floating wood, happily balance and pull, balance and pull. One little girl loses her right shoe in the brown sludge but is too afraid to hunt for it. Another girl gets very close to the foot bridge, but with patience and strength, maneuvers herself free. A boy challenges another to a friendly battle as their rafts collide.

While I am watching, not one child falls in. Not one child calls for his mom or looks nervously to the shore. Is it because they know the water is shallow? I think not. It’s because balancing on these things is natural to them. Even with the initial “figuring out” that each and every child did in order to get on without falling over, there was no evident doubt, no giving up. Balancing on that board was a fact before it was a reality.

Perhaps, I think to myself, this is what I need to nurture: an innate sense of balance, one in which I do not question whatever obstacle is put in my path. Steady, one foot at a time, breathe, up comes the leg, then the other, breathe again and Wa-la! Success. Balancing. No doubt. No stress. Hey, this is fun. Let’s pull the oar a bit and sail through the murky waters with confidence…