What if I told you that sometimes I was afraid of writing? 

Yes, me, who has built a career out of writing and teaching writing. 

I have to be honest and say sometimes writing, especially creative writing, really scares me. But really – it’s okay. 

It would be wrong for me to pretend that the things we love and love to do should always be easy and free-flowing. So, does writing always come easy to me then? No, actually hardly ever. Truth be told, I have to psych myself into the practice nearly every time I sit down with the intention to write. I don’t sit down with a beaming light shining upon me from the heavens when I write. Nope… actually that has never happened to me. 😉 

Miraculous Meaning-Making 

And yet beams of light from the heavens on a writing writer is what I think many people expect writers to look like every time they work, like some movie montage of someone hunched over at a desk while inspirational music plays. 

I think people expect this of kid writers, too. Think about how we have been teaching writing in our culture – and maybe this is even how you learned to write:

Kids, who are so new to navigating the world, are suddenly handed a pencil, told how to properly grip it with their still-developing little hands, and are then expected to learn their alphabet plus phonics plus write down strange characters on a piece of paper and be able to tell you what they mean – and fast. 

No wonder kids are bewildered when we then start to demand words and properly punctuated and grammatically correct sentences out of them when they’re just babies.

Ruth E. Shagoury, in the very first chapter of her book Raising Writers, encourages us to “pay attention to miracles” in children’s writing. When we expect and demand consistent perfection out of our kids, it sets them – and us – up for a disappointment. How can we expect consistent progress out of anyone first of all? But when we pay attention to the miracles that are happening as children’s literacy skills blossom, we start to notice emerging understanding and the brilliant making of meaning in our kids.

Take Stock of Your Worries 

Of course, kids are capable and resilient. When we expect more out of them, they will give us their all. Yet in many parent circles that I’m in, I hear and see so many parents worrying and wringing their hands over their children’s seeming lack of progress and development, frantic and “freaking out” about their kids. Things I have heard concerns about vary from a 5-year-old who “didn’t retain” her ABC skills to even littler kids being “behind” in writing letters and sounding out words. 

Mama, Papa… Breathe. 

They are resilient! And – 

When they’re little, what they need is nature, books, and you. What they really need? Playtime. 

Play is crucial to children’s development. It’s how they learn. (Yes, even big kids, too!) When we weigh kids down with our worries about them being behind when they are still so young, what we can really end up doing is weighing down their very nature. Perhaps this happened to you when you were young, or maybe you are worried about your child being behind and possibly ridiculed for it in school or among their peers. So maybe it seems it’s helpful and protective to push them harder. 

Just trust. 

Just trust that their literacy skills will come, and will come miraculously in their own time. In fact, they’re already there, sometimes we just can’t see it. Little kids know which way to turn pages in a book or journal. They know that when they bring a book to you, it means a story, connection, and entertainment. When we continue to simply pair reading and writing with good things, that fosters the motivation in kids to be able to pursue them on their own. 

Trust the Process 

Children look to us for guidance. When we address our own worries and fears, we will no longer project them onto our kids. Then we will be able to parent and guide them out of love and trust, honor, and respect. When we trust the process of literacy in children’s development. we are able to let loose a little bit and allow ourselves – and our children – to simply enjoy childhood. 

Trust your child to learn in their own way. Trust your intuition and listen to your child if it seems they need more help, too. Sometimes we do need to intervene if perhaps say, a child can’t see well enough or needs some other form of medical treatment. That is okay, too. It’s not a setback, it’s just part of the process for your individual child. Once they have their glasses, for example, their headaches will be gone, they’ll be able to see clearer, and their reading and writing will take off. 

You Got This 

Your kids have got this. When we share the reins and allow kids to guide their own learning, miracles will indeed happen.

It’s all gonna be okay. 🙂 

If you are looking for writing inspiration for your family, I invite you to subscribe to receive a free writing and poetry activity for kids. Subscribers also receive a free writing prompt in their email every week! This is a great way to grow your family’s writing practice. 

We also have a TeachersPayTeachers store,with a growing collection of resources that will encourage kids to explore their own writing. I’d love to see your kiddos utilize my family’s creations to spur on their writing. I welcome any suggestions or requests on our resources as well! Please do feel free to reach out – and don’t forget tosubscribeto learn more! 

Write away, friends! 

Katie 

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