Homeschooling Breakthroughs: How My Son Became a Writer During Coronavirus Lockdown by Carrie Watts
Homeschooling has presented many challenges over the past two and a half months, most of which have resulted in frustration and tears. But, now and then, there have been previously unimaginable breakthroughs, moments of joy that have sustained us through the rest.
One of these moments was just last week. My eldest son, Joseph, had a breakthrough that’s been four years in the making. Since Primary 2 (first grade in the U.S. system), he’s believed he can’t write stories. Despite a fertile imagination, a wicked sense of humor and a penchant for the dramatic, his school experience of that one year left him with a deeply ingrained belief that writing is something that’s simply beyond him. Nothing could shake it.
When we began lockdown, aside from the anxiety and fear we were all feeling, I saw the opportunity to help Joseph with his writing. We started slowly, building confidence and endurance with small bits of work. There were fights. Many fights. Changing a long-held belief is hard, especially for an autistic boy who is too smart for his own good! He had a plethora of readily citable examples of how he’s failed in the past. But I persevered. He persevered, even though it was hard. He trusted me, and we pushed on with small successes.
Then, last week, we received the biggest test yet to his burgeoning confidence. School assigned a task to write a short story. He immediately refused to do it – how could he come up with an idea? I was ready. I whipped out my Mrs. Wordsmith Story Telling Game Cards. “Use these to help you think of something,” I encouraged him.
He could do that without pressure being put on him to invent (the pressure to be perfect), so he dove in and went through them. “OK, but what will I say?” was his next concern.
“Look at the descriptive word cards and pick five of them to work into your story. It’ll help you structure it a bit.” Back into the box he went. Without realizing it, he was able to put aside his anxiety and just focus on the words. Boy, did he focus on the words. He crafted it, revised it, asked for feedback and revised again – the consummate professional at work! When he finished, the pride he was feeling beamed out of his face.
I cannot understate how this experience has changed his entire perspective. Within minutes of finishing, of knowing he’d written something good and solid and completely of him, he was asking me how he gets published. He contacted his teacher and asked if the class could publish a book of all their short stories. He’s a writer now. The doors this opens for him are innumerable. And I am just so thankful we had the opportunity to spend this time together so he could find his way back to valuing his own written voice.
You can read his story in my recent blog post at InsightfulDelirium.wordpress.com.
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