For K, like how I mentioned in her character profile, she loves to move and perform. Her task was to write a short story. So instead of getting her to sit down thinking of a story to write, we both stood up, and I asked her to create a story real time while performing it. I’d prompt her as we go “what do you see?”, “how can you describe it?” etc.
IT. WAS. SO. EFFECTIVE.
The story turned out to be this:
K is swimming in a swimming pool, and who appears out of nowhere? SANTA. She says “Hi Santa!”. Santa replies “Hi K, what do you want for christmas?”. She shouts “TEDDY BEARS!” So Santa fills the whole pool with it. The end.
(If this story isn’t adapted into a movie …)
Writing does not simply rely on the skill of writing. It takes imagination and planning before even picking up a pencil. So now that she had the idea in her head already, the writing part was much less of a hurdle (she’s mentioned to me many times, “writing is hard”).
And this method of ‘chunking’ is extremely useful for adults too. If someone tells you to write an essay, you’ll most likely say “Hmm sure” and end up procrasti-cleaning or internet shopping for a swim suit for your dog.
This task is too large to attack in one go. And most likely, the amount of work immediately balloons in our brain.
So what do you do? You work on planning it first, then writing one paragraph, taking a break, then writing another.
Today I also addressed my AOI from last time:
Praise the process, not the outcome.
K’s quite proficient in numeracy, so I ended up giving her a big challenge for a 5 year old: ‘What’s 123-76?’
I didn’t expect her to get it right. I just wanted her to attempt it, to try. To focus more on the process, with which I made sure to praise her by saying “awesome work, I can see you really tried working it out”.
Moreover, I asked her to TEACH me how she would work an equation. That’s another skill I don’t think is taught enough in school. How can you effectively communicate your knowledge to someone else?
With N, his mum really hopes that he can write more, (particularly stories). She mentions his ideas are great, and is capable of writing high quality passages (like for his Mother’s Day card), but often he resists when asked to.
I realised here his will driver is PURPOSE. The WHY. Why should he write it? For Mother’s day, he saw the purpose. To express his appreciation for his mum. But ask him to write about his day yesterday? Forget it.
I learnt an important lesson that day:
Trying to make someone do something is just not going to work.
N unapologetically resists writing stories, but doesn’t mind poems. Found out later it’s because he can finish them quicker. Plus it expends less mental energy because he can rhyme. For him, he just wants to rip work off like a bandaid, get it over and done with.
And interestingly, he thinks that ‘persuasive text’, ‘poems’, ‘stories’, are all COMPLETELY different.
So first I attempted to motivate N to write a story using my tactics with K – ie. get him to think of a scenario and then write it down.
… That didn’t work. So I changed tactic.
I never said the word ‘story’ again (he frowned every time I did). Instead, I encouraged him to write more descriptive poems (same same).
I really believe once he gets over the hurdle of writing (through more poems), longer passages and essays will become a whole lot easier. Focus on their natural strengths and go from there!
1. Encourage N to share. When playing basketball, he’d often take the ball for himself rather than passing to his siblings.
2. Reduce learned helplessness (especially with K) – i.e don’t give answers or automatic help with the child wants it – let them struggle and think for themselves first.
See you in the next reflection!