“He’s not growing!”
In fourth grade, I made my annual trek to the doctor for my physical. Each year, the moment arrived when the doc would line me up against the ruler mounted on his office wall to measure me. I was short. Excruciatingly short. Marking my growth helped me cope. But in fourth grade, I discovered to my horror: I had grown only a quarter of an inch! In the years that followed, my bone growth was scanned, I was put on thyroid while both parents and doctors wrung their hands wondering when I’d finally get on with it and grow.
It took awhile. My friends had long since settled into their adult heights when my body finally kicked into gear. Partway through my junior year, I became ravenous. Five meals a day, snacks between. 18 months later, I had added six inches to my petite stature!
What’s this got to do with writing? Sometimes I hear from moms who are worried. They’ve been with Brave Writer for a year or more. They see little progress. They measure last year’s writing against this year’s and have that swooping stomach sensation: He isn’t growing. I don’t see progress. But maybe he is. Maybe this is just a year of the quarter inch growth? Maybe he’s simply storing up all that energy, accumulated during the slow years for a great big burst of dramatic, lots of writing products growth that startles you with its suddenness?
I’ve noticed that when I’ve backed off of writing with a child who shows reluctance or intimidation, have kept reading aloud, conversed and chatted with him regularly, and continued the basics: handwriting/copywork/dictation, eventually writing growth happens and often happens in a burst! Six inches of growth in a year! Writing isn’t a linear process. It’s the slow accumulation of internal confidence (things to say, ways to say them) and mechanical competence. Those sometimes grow steadily, over time, without much evidence of big spurts of development. But in many cases, the growth is imperceptible until one day: Bam! The stars align and those pesky mispellings disappear. Words flow and insight develops. When that happens, it’s a relief. But just know, it was coming all along.