This week I am enjoying some much needed family time with my kiddos, so I won’t be around much. However, I have an amazing line up of guests to keep you thinking!
Today’s guest is Becky from This Reading Mama. Please help me give her a warm welcome!
As a former classroom teacher, my absolute favorite time of the school day was Writer’s Workshop. And by far, my favorite part of the workshop was sharing time at the end. Students took turns in the “Author’s Chair”, reading their compositions aloud. By doing this, students could see first-hand that their writing had meaning for a group of listeners. They learned to write with the reader in mind. Lucy Calkins speaks to this when she says, “Young writers need to imagine readers.” (The Art of Teaching Writing, pg. 269)
Now that I’m homeschooling, one of my challenges has been finding that authentic audience for my young writers. Who exactly is the reader? I’ve taken on the challenge of creating authentic audiences for the young writers in my home and wanted to share a few ways that you can, too.
Find writing genres that lend themselves to an audience.
Writing letters is a GREAT example because a letter, by its very nature, has a built-in audience. To whom can your child write? Shut-ins at your church, a pen pal (a cousin or family member who lives far away), missionaries-anyone really!
For example, we are blessed to have an amazing pastor’s wife at our church who sends letters to my kids periodically. One day, my son’s writing assignment was to write her back, thanking her for the card. Authentic audience.
Create peer groups for your homeschooler.
Book Clubs. This summer, we took part in a Charlotte’s Web book club. The writing prompts were read aloud to peers.
An “Author’s Tea”. Collaborate with other homeschooling mamas in your area. Ask each child to pick a piece of writing of which he is particularly proud and “rehearse” reading it at home. Pick a meeting place. At the tea, each child takes a turn reading her writing aloud to the group. Others comment or ask questions; ultimately, celebrating each other as authors. Then, chow down with some light snacks.
Enlist family & friends to lend an ear.
My mother will quite frequently ask my eldest to read his latest creation to her. A friend of mine keeps her sons’ writing at the kitchen table. It is celebrated with daddy over dinner time. Siblings can make a great audience as well as friends.
So, while you may not have an “Author’s Chair” sitting in your corner of your home, you can create authentic audiences for your young writers. Doing so “helps to shape and create” not only good writing; but ultimately, good writers. (If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland, pp. 163-164)
Becky is a former Elementary school teacher/private reading tutor who became a homeschooling mama to four beautiful blessings (ages 6, 3, 2, & 5 months. She blogs mostly about literacy and homeschooling at This Reading Mama.
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