Recently, I experienced a moment that every writing teacher or tutor dreams of having. As I was walking out the door after our last writing session, my student said to me, “You know, I actually enjoy writing now. It’s not that hard.”
As I tried to keep my composure instead of jumping up and down like an excited child, I calmly responded, “Alex, that’s exciting. You’re not afraid of writing anymore. I knew you’d get there some day.”
Before Alex even said this to me, I knew he had gotten there because of the excellent writing and excited comments I witnessed throughout our final session.
When I sat down at the beginning of the session to ask Alex what he wanted to work on for our final session before he went off to boarding school, Alex told me “I have no idea. I’ve made so much progress already.” This was a good way to start our session off on a positive note. But, we did find something to work on because, in my opinion, there’s always more you can work on when it comes to writing.
Then, throughout the session, I was hearing comments like:
“I have a really cool word that I want to use in this sentence.”
“Ok, I need to think through this response for a minute before I write.”
“This whole part you are going to get a kick out of because of the grammar conundrum I’m having.”
These comments illustrated to me that Alex was actually having fun doing the writing assignments I was giving him—and they weren’t just easy tasks.
Trust me, though, when I say that this type of productive writing work was not typical when I started working with Alex on his writing this summer. It was a long road to get Alex to the point of embracing writing. A very long road.
You may remember my previous post about Alex and the fact that he has a fixed mindset about certain areas of his life and school. Writing happens to be one area where he used to have a fixed mindset. When we’d set out on a writing task at the beginning of our time together, I’d hear comments such as, “Am I really going to have to write a paragraph about this?” or, “Can’t I just talk you through my response instead of writing it?”
I found that Alex was actually afraid of writing because he didn’t know where to start. And even if he did get started, he didn’t know where to go. He’d never actually been taught how to put together a solid paragraph. Furthermore, he didn’t know how to put together sentences in different ways to add variety to his writing.
So, how did we remedy these issues this summer? We wrote a lot. By the end of our sessions, Alex’s hand hurt from all the writing. Repetition was key to getting Alex to build the writing skills he needed for high school. I also introduced him to a graphic organizer and an approach to writing paragraphs that he could apply to any paragraph he needed to write.
With these basic but effective tools, Alex’s writing began to flourish and continued to develop throughout our sessions. By the end, I really felt that Alex had the skills he needed to do well in his writing in high school and even beyond. I have no doubt that he will apply these skills in high school—he even told me so.
The tools that I introduced to Alex were part of our Comprehension Through Composition program that can be done over the summer or throughout the school year. Contact us to learn more about Comprehension Through Composition or to find out how we can help your child became a more confident writer!