When my daughter first approached me about starting a blog, I understood where her request was coming from.
Both of her parents are write-for-the-fun-of-it people.
I work for bloggers.
Blogging has been a part of her world for as long as she can remember.
I had a few reservations, though – mostly the same ones I had when I started my own blog – privacy, mainly, and the fact that the Internet can be a mean place.
But then I thought some more. My girl had loved taking part in NaNoWriMo. She wrote every day well past the November deadline, and she still works on the book she started during the event.
I wondered if like with so many things when it comes to parenting, the benefits could outweigh the small potential risks. (And, of course, if there were ways to lessen those risks.)
And so, a few months ago, we started a Blogger blog for her, and of course it’s been transformative and a wonderful thing in her learning.
I’m so glad. Because writing needs to be protected, I think.
Of course, I’m biased.
Once upon a time, I was a 16-year-old college student trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t sure, so I used community college like a buffet – I tried a lot of things.
It was cheap, and I was young, so I took philosophy and photography, and worked toward a degree, but also didn’t worry so much if the classes I tried didn’t count.
Somehow, I ended up in Belize one summer studying Mayan architecture.
Eventually I landed in a feature writing class, and I loved it. After my professor called on me to read a piece I had written out loud, the newspaper editor approached me and asked me if I wanted a job.
“Sure,” I said. “But I can’t type.”
This really happened. I had taken typing in middle school, but none of it had stuck, and this was the early-90s, and we still went to computer labs to peck out papers and I didn’t have email.
She hired me anyway, and I became a writer. I transferred to a university and got a journalism degree. I worked in newspapers and magazines before my kids were born. I freelanced after.
Writing helps pay our bills, and generally keeps me out of trouble.
I would be lost without it.
So I’ve worried about my kids and writing. I’ve worried about doing this part of home education wrong.
I think this is why Brave Writer appeals to me so much. Owner Julie Bogart has a writer’s soul, and so she understands that we have to approach this subject with extra care if we want out kids to feel safe in expressing themselves.
Writing is different to me than other school subjects. I want my kids to enjoy history. I want them to understand math. But I want them to feel confident as writers. And supported. And understood. And, well, brave.
And so, my girl and I started her blog together one winter evening. We went through each step together and I made sure that her blog settings were private. (Blogger is great for kids getting started – very intuitive and easy to set up.)
So far she has written about topics like shelter cats, her bike, recipes – anything that occurs to her really. That’s when I realized that this is a new way of practicing freewriting in our home. And through this format, she has learned so much:
Typing: I noticed the other day that my girl can type. And she managed this without a woman screaming, “ASDFJKLsemi-colonSPACE!” at her 50 minutes a day for 9 straight weeks.
Spelling: She is intuitively learning spelling by trying out new words.
Sentence composition and structure: She knows exactly what she wants to say, and she’s figuring out how to express that in writing.
Punctuation: Again, she is working this out through doing it.
Editing and revising her work: She’s figured out reading through for clarity, and will change her own work to make it easier to understand for her readers.
Bonus extras: Photography, photo editing, blog formatting and headline writing.
And because she is excited about blogging, and chooses topics that interest her, she is incredibly self-motivated. She wants to spend time writing, which feels like a win.
She then asks me to “copy edit” her work, like I did back in my newspaper days. We do this with her sitting next to me, and I think back on those days when I would have a younger student on the student newspaper sitting next to me while I copy edited his or her work.
I didn’t talk much – I just made the changes. Every once in a while, if I saw that the same mistake popping up a lot, I would reference the AP Style Book or explain the rule that made me change it, but that was it.
And so that’s what we do together. I try to treat her and her writing with the exact same respect that I treated the students who trusted me to be their editor.
I give compliments, the same way I complimented them:
“Good get on talking to the head of the board,” becomes, “I love how you described the color of your bike – It helps me see that exact shade in my mind.”
And I try very hard to say it less with motherly pride, and more writer to writer.
Because that’s what she is. She is a writer. She is a blogger.
And she is learning like crazy.
I wrote another story about my girl recently and how she learned to read. I’d love it if you’d go check it out!