Have a reluctant writer? Try using doodles – wordimals, to be exact – for fun and encouragement.
I’ve mentioned before that G despises writing. She loves to make up stories, but the act of writing them down is a challenge. Last week, though, she picked up a notebook and started writing.
She started a story. A story she worked on for two days straight.
It began three weeks ago, maybe, with some behavior I hadn’t noticed before. It’s not unusual to find G doodling at the dining room table. But this time, she wasn’t just doodling. She was turning the paper around, a quarter turn here, a quarter turn there.
Curious, I wandered over. In the middle of the paper she had written the word “wolf”.
She looked up at me. Her blue eyes danced with anticipation.
“I have an idea, mom. Can you get this on video?”
Watching her use the letters to form a body, legs, tail and head was fascinating, not to mention something I could never do. She went on to create several more:
Her favorite seemed to be the wolf, though, and over the next few days G made several different variations, each more elaborate than the last. Every character had a story, too, the story that spilled into the pages of her notebook at 7:30 AM on a Wednesday morning. I hadn’t seen her write like this since kindergarten, when she kept a journal of letters to Ian Whybrow’s Little Wolf. But where her kindergarten writing seemed compulsive, desperate, frantic (a coping mechanism for school year stress), this new venture took on a joyful air. She’d disappear only for me to find her outside, plopped under a shady tree and giggling to herself as she scribbled.
The initial nonstop effort lasted about two days. But she’s continued working on it over the last week and a half. G’s wordimals made meaning: they created a cast of characters whose stories she could no longer contain. Because of them, she is thinking.
She is happy. And I’m in awe, watching a child who found the act of writing so difficult immerse herself and find joy in it. Since we started homeschooling three years ago, I’ve been offering all sorts of incentives and activities to get her interested in composition, the art I love. All this time, the answer was to find motivation in what she loved. I should have listened to her long ago, because the truth is, all children are writers. Some just need an opened door.