It really is enough

Katherine writesThe tricky part of homeschooling, and particularly writing, is that you can’t see the growth as it happens. Looking back shows you the growth. But looking back happens when they head off to college… or Europe, or get married. That feels a teensy bit late.

In other words, the very thing you need to reassure you that you are doing a good job with your kids is invisible to you as you do that “good job with your kids.” You’re required to put your faith in the process, rather than confidence in observable results. (Or, alternatively, you have to change how you measure what you see.)

It really is enough to read aloud to your kids, to have your children copy some of those words into a little notebook, to have them take a stab at writing some of those words without looking while you dictate them aloud. It’s enough if this happens once a week or 20 times in a year, and some years even fewer times.

It’s enough to catch a few of their brilliant thoughts or quirky ideas in writing for them, once in a while, so they know that what’s inside them deserves to be on paper too.

It’s enough to linger at dinner, discussing some topic like the puns in Seinfeld or why Pocahontas the Disney movie is both so good you want to keep watching it but so bad (if you compare it to history) that you feel guilty for loving it.

It’s enough to lie next to your kids at bedtime once in a while to sing to them or listen to their stories or to tell them some ridiculous saga you made up that goes on and on and stops making sense after a few weeks but you both love just the same.

It really is enough if your kids read and read and read the same book series over and over again and it seems like they will never discover another author as wonderful as JK Rowling or Brian Jacques or Suzanne Collins or Ian Fleming or Jeff Kinney. One day you’ll notice… oh hey! She’s reading another book by someone else.

It’s enough if you listen to what your kids say, if you have big juicy conversations about the stuff that interests them, if you laugh at funny sounding words and use absurdly big ones around them just to trick them and tickle their linguistic imaginations.

It will be enough if they read a little poetry, look up a few song lyrics, memorize a couple tongue twisters, learn to tell a few really funny jokes, and figure out the delicious humor of Will Shakespeare in one of his comedies (in a movie of course).

It’s enough if they cast their thoughts onto a page, freely, attending only to the ideas or the sound of the words, and know they have a receptive audience in you.

It’s enough if they play with other writing forms, if they learn how to mop up their own mechanics, if they attempt half a dozen essays in high school, figuring out what it means to have a point of view that they assert and then how to back it up because it matters to them.

We make it so difficult. We expect our kids to match some other agenda than the one that delivers them happily into an authentic writing life.

Less is more—less hand-wringing, fewer assignments, less control, less nagging, fewer criteria.

More is more—more conversations, more reading, more delight, more time, more space, more passion for language, more opportunities to play with words, language.

I’m here to help when you lose your nerve or your way.

Cross-posted on facebook.

Image by Julie Jordan Scott

2 Responses to “It really is enough”

  1. Sam says:

    Julie, it really helps to read your encouraging posts whenever I get allowed on the family computer! I am particularly at the point of hoping my eldest son will broaden out in his reading interests. Yes, he reads the same series over and over again, and he often goes straight to the graphic novels section in the library rather than looking at any of the other shelves. It’s reassuring to be told just to leave him be rather than pointing him towards my old favourites and being rebuffed.

  2. Jen says:

    I read this today, the perfect day to read it as I was heading down the “more is better” road and starting to really stress out. Thanks for reminding me of the long view