What's Write for the Family
Photographs capture moments. Every family has pictures of births, first days of school, and graduations. Video records excerpts of life. A growing number of parents have footage of babies walking, birthday parties, and vacation events.
But written words express a depth of thought that no electronic media can surpass. Writing requires us to choose our words carefully, to provide a unique perspective, and to scribble the contents of our imaginations and our memories.
With the holiday season upon us, most parents will have ample opportunity to be with their children and, in many cases, with extended family. Grandparents will be telling stories of growing up in the old country or walking 20 miles through the snow to school. Cousins from across the country will talk about the way things are where they live. And parents will recount for their children what they remember about holiday traditions they had while growing up.
At holiday gatherings, taking photographs and video is certainly fun for future viewings, but writing down family stories and histories is a unique way for families to produce lasting expressions of who they are, were, and will be. For parents, this may mean preparing children with little memo pads to act as reporters, jotting down details. Or it could involve kids sitting down with a laptop to interview their grandparents or aunts/uncles. Or it could turn into a post-holiday dinner session at the kitchen table to write the story together.
Getting the Kids Motivated
Given that writing is rarely considered a family leisure activity, parents will need to motivate their kids into doing something so potentially rich. For many kids, writing is synonymous with schoolwork. However, in the modern age of electronic communication, writing is more important than ever as e-mail, instant messaging and blogging can attest. So, the first step in moving the kids to write is to tell them (especially those over nine years of age) that they’re already writing about their lives on the computer.
Another way to convince children to become family scribes is the opportunity to publish a “family book.” Parents can assign their children to write a brief biography of each member of the family, including themselves and even the dog, to be bound in a decorated notebook that can be added to at each holiday.
For the kindergarteners to second graders just learning to write words and sentences, parents should plan to help, but should also see this as a chance for the children to show off their skills. And for pre-writers, parents can simply ask questions such as, “What do you like best about our family,” and write it down for them. These kids can then illustrate the page if they’d like.
Reprinted with the permission of the Parents' Choice Foundation. © Copyright 2012 Parents' Choice Foundation. All rights reserved.
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