(Photo: David Crosling, Source: Herald Sun)
Today at breakfast, my daughter said something seemingly innocuous that made me bristle: “I don't like writing.”
My daughter, along with much of the Victorian and possibly the Australian population is taking the Naplan tests today. She told me this morning that she had Language Composition and Writing tests. And then she said, “I don't like writing”.
As someone who was never enthusiastic about writing in school, my inner alarm was ringing loudly. And then she said something that highlighted the complete cultural difference between our kids and many of us parents, at least all of us who are Gen X-ers. she said, “it’s not like when you do typing on the computer.”
A swirl of thoughts
Here we are, writing is fun when it is called typing. Writing is not so fun when it happens with pen and pencil. The swhirl of thoughts, questions, and mild consternations that went spinning around in my mind were palpable:
- Does she just not like pen and pencil?
- At least she likes to be crafty and artistic so she won’t be entirely without fine motor skills that were once measured in quality of handwriting.
- Do we not provide enough alternatives to keyboards and online entertainment to ensure that she has a wide range of interests?
- Does she see me too often at work, something that nearly always includes a keyboard?
- Does she actually not like writing?
It is so difficult to succeed in life without writing well. At anything. Despite the prevalence of video and the tradition of oral communication which precedes all of us to the beginning of humanity, the advent of writing and in particular the printing press that brought widespread publishing is one of the major turning points in the development of humanity.
And while humans have probably done some things that are damaging to humanity, our planet and plenty of individuals in the ensuing epochs since we’ve been writing, wouldn’t we rather live now than then.
And so maybe my daughter doesn’t like writing.
In the split second that I had to formulate a comment amidst the swirling craze in my mind, I said only, “please try your hardest at writing. We can’t communicate in today’s world without it.” All the while wondering what I can do to ensure that the playful elements of writing capture her heart.
Here’s what I’ve come up with after a morning of mulling this problem:
- If kids love storytelling first, writing can follow.
- Storytelling is all around us at all ages in our play.
- The reason screen time captures kids attention so easily is because of storytelling – conflict, goals, challenges, and a resolution.
- We must be able to build on the storytelling they think of as easy – from TV and video games – to reinforce it in other elements of play.
So what have I decided?
Continue to encourage play of all types. She’s 8 years old. Here future interests are wide open. After all, I was 30 years old before I knew what I wanted to do with myself professionally.
If you’re wondering about ways to encourage storytelling in play, we've created a buying guide to the best storytelling toys and games by age group.