I didn’t know very much about teaching writing the day I sat at the table with Andrew. As I tried to coax writing out of him that fit the curriculum assignment, I was unaware of the other message I was sending him, namely, that his involvement in the writing experience wasn’t as important as the final product.
I had to ask Andrew to forgive me.
The more I worked one on one with my own children, the more I had to ask forgiveness. It took me a while to realize I was coming to the writing table thinking I was the teacher, that I had all the answers, and that I was in charge. I viewed them as students whose role was to absorb my teaching, to write what I required, and to finish the lessons timely.
I wish Vicki Spandel had written The 9 Rights of Every Writer ten years earlier. I needed it. My children needed me to approach homeschooling with Spandel’s gentleness and respect for the individual student.
Spandel organizes her book by 'rights of the writer,' but goes on to explain in detail the reason writers need each right. Within each chapter, she offers an abundance of real writing examples from primary students through adults. She makes use of the writer’s notebook as the writer’s foundational work. She gives voice to the little ones in our homes who don’t yet know how to ask for what their writer selves need:
- “The right to be reflective
- The right to choose a personally important topic
- The right to go ‘off topic’
- The right to personalize the writing process
- The right to write badly
- The right to see others write
- The right to be assessed well
- The right to go beyond formula
- The right to find your own voice.”
If you buy and read one book on the subject of teaching writing, read Spandel’s The 9 Rights of the Writer.