What to do in the meantime
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I get emails that ask me about whether or not to purchase The Writer’s Jungle when the mom is not yet homeschooling. Recently on the Scratch Pad, I got the opportunity to answer in full. I thought I’d post that conversation here for those of you wondering. (Short version: save purchasing the WJ until your oldest child is 6-7 at the earliest).
From Pam, mother of a delightful three year old girl.
Pam: I have been salivating over this writing program for over a year now.
Julie: Aren’t you sweet, Pam!?
Pam: The problem is, my oldest child is only about to turn three-years-old in June! Yes, horrible, I know.
Julie: So you do know that you have a few years to go. Excellent.
Pam: But as I am looking ahead to budgeting for homeschool each year and starting off on the right foot with writing, when should I plan on purchasing and beginning to implement the Brave Writer lifestyle in our home?
Julie: Here’s my sage advice for all moms who will eventually homeschool but have the impulse to hurry the whole thing up.
Go do something you love in the meantime! Get a hobby! Take up knitting! Don’t make the mistake of “preparing for homeschool” during these precious years because you will be sooooo tempted to start them too early. You won’t be able to help yourself! All of it is so exciting and new and compelling.
Never fear. I have a suggestion to help you.
Take up writing, for yourself. It’s clear that you are hungry for stimulation (especially as it concerns your mind and future vision for how to best help your kids in their educations). So instead of reading about how to teach them to write, discover it for yourself. The more you find yourself developing your own patterns and process for writing, the better able you’ll be to sympathize and create the context for rich language development and word play necessary to the writing lifestyle.
And since I know you’ll ask, here’s a list of some terrific books to get you started:
My favorite first: Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott) I need to include the caveat that she uses cuss words in her writing, including the notorious “f” word. If that doesn’t bother you, she is hilariously funny and one of the best writing instructors by book ever.
Writing with Power by Peter Elbow is a hands down classic.
On Writing Well by William Zinsser is also considered a classic. I liked the first half best.
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron is popular today (she’s the one who started the series called The Artist’s Way). It isn’t my favorite, but it is serviceable. She spends too much time comparing her natural surroundings to her process for my taste, but I think she understands what it is to write as an adult.
Natalie Goldberg is a poet who has written a fabulous book called Writing Down the Bones. She has a Buddhist/Jewish outlook. Yeah, I know – wild! But her writing is magic, the way a poet’s often is.
So pick these up at your local library, save your money, and play!!! Play with words, write, write, write.
Meanwhile, with your three year old, promise me you’ll do the following:
- Make play-doh from scratch
- Splash water all over the kitchen floor while measuring it from cups to bowls.
- Read aloud from library books every day before nap time.
- Tickle your little one’s tummy any time you can.
- Take walks at the local park or nature center and hold her hand and then swing her around in a big circle.
- Sing songs to her until she sings them back (lullabyes are just critical at this stage – find some good ones and sing them most nights – they never forget).
- Snuggle on the couch while watching TV.
In other words: don’t miss this incredibly liberating phase where your biggest job is to make this little person, this adorable little girl-person love being in your presence 24/7. That’s you only job! So enjoy it.
Pam: Obviously we would start with handwriting practice which would evolve into copywork, but there are other aspects of the program (from reading the table of contents and looking at the Brave Writer lifestyle information) that could be implemented from very early on, right?
Julie: True, but so what? Seriously. Wait. I think you’ll be happier long term. And you know what? By the time your child is 6-7, I’ll probably have revised it again anyway.
Pam: So, should I make the purchase and begin reading and studying — when she is three, four, five, six or wait until later?
Julie: Wait! Do all this other stuff. And keep reading the blog for ideas, for teatime inspiration, for games and word play, for philosophical orientation so that you’ll be grounded and trust your motherly instincts.
Then in the meantime, carve out personal time (get that husband to help you get out of the house alone) and do your own writing. Become a writer! That is the best advice I can give you.
Go for it! You’re such a good mom, I can tell.
I love this. Must link to it today.
Thanks so much for posting this! I too am considering your program for my 10yo. I also have a 4yo and I’ve been wondering what I should be doing with her. I knew I should just play and have fun but I feel guilty sometimes. LOL!
“developing your own patterns and process for writing..” this idea is so clear and simple yet i have never thought of it. some truly original advice every parent (homeschooling or not) should implement. really great!
Glad to hear that we can buy WJ at age 6-7. I’ve been waiting years … and now my son is 6. So this might go on our purchase list sometime in the next year or two! LOL.
I’d ditto just having fun with the kids, and browsing the blog and email ideas in the meantime. And definitely, write for yourself. If writing isn’t a part of your life, there’s not really much point in creating a writing lifestyle for the kids.
And when your kids see you write … there’s a good chance they’ll want to write too. Most kids want to do whatever they see their parents enjoying so much. My son and I were collaborating on a Script Frenzy project for April, but we weren’t getting far and he lost interest so we stopped. But he had a fit when he realized we’re in May now and the project is over. LOL. I told him we could finish any time he wanted. (We did the young writers program, with a VERY low page count goal … and when we’re done with our mini script, we’re going to try to film it starring all his stuffed animals. It ought to be a hoot.)