There once was a boy who couldn’t write. He was seven and a half years old and would have been in first grade in school, but he was not in school. He was homeschooled. And he could only write his name in a very shaky, wobbly way. He spent his time reading Pokémon and Hank the Cow Dog books, playing with friends, watching Disney channel and Animal Planet, going on many “fieldtrip" excursions, playing computer games, and, of course, absorbing information and assimilating knowledge just by being a curious boy living in the real world. He was a very intense and intelligent child, but his writing looked like that of a four year old.
His mother did not notice the extent of his problem until she presented him with a writing task. She asked him to write the answers to a few math problems to see if he was prepared to take the standardized test that homeschoolers in his state are required to take every year, not that the test required he *write* the numbers. The mother really wanted to know what her son could do, especially since he was not inclined to write on his own. She had a feeling and not good, but she was hopeful.... Afterall, he had learned many things and accomplished many learning tasks just by being engaged in the world... surely he could write by now? So, one day, while his sister was studying math, he was writing the answers to his own math problems beside her (to make sure he was ready to take that test… ) and they were big, shaky, wobbly, backwards numbers.. oooh, this was not good.
The mother immediately freaked out.
Realizing the extent of her son’s behindness, the mother consulted her favorite homeschool list for right-brained learners, Homeschooling Creatively. She was re-assured that the muscle control that it takes to write could be obtained through various fun activities, and in fact, it is quite OK for a child of 7 not to want to or be able to write very well. The boy was adding triple digit numbers in his head and reading chapter books, for Pete's sake! But he could not write, pencil to paper.
So, the mother made homemade play dough and printed out tons of Pokémon coloring pages for the boy to color with the intent to hone his motor skills. The boy took to the coloring pages immediately and churned out a pile of them until he tired of the project. He played with the play dough for an entire afternoon making food for his Webkinz with his sister.
Soon the mother forgot her worries and life carried on.
Until one day, she bought several Mad Libs books, also mention on said list. She included Mad Libs in their nightly reading time. The boy decided that he liked this Mad Lib idea and took the books into his own hands, picked up his own pencil, and began to fill in the pages. The sillier, the better. The more times he could write the word, “poo,” the better. He had a grand time!
One day, the mother looked at the pages her son had filled out, and she noticed something remarkable. The boy’s writing had improved tremendously! And he was using the “poo” word less and less….
The boy still does not write his own stories; he does not write notes, letters, paragraphs, nor does he do copy work. He fills in pages of Mad Lib books.
His sister began writing in her own journal just this year at age ten. The mother was very surprised at this move because the girl had only recently taken over her own keyboarding. The transition from dictation to keyboarding was painless and a choice (she wanted to do it on her own), and the transition from keyboarding to paper and pencil was painless and a choice (she wanted to earn a Junior Girl Scout writing badge).
The mother puts the pieces of this puzzle together and relaxes even more. If the boy ever needs structured education, the resources and means are certainly out there, but he doesn't today. For now, the learning truly is just fine as is.
The mother does not assume that all problems solve themselves without much concerted effort, but she does wonder: "Why make things harder than they have to be?"
Robin considers herself a budding naturalist and conservationist and a spiritual eclectic who enjoys celebrating the wheel of the year with her own unique blend of earth-centered world traditions.