As a homeschooler, thinking (and living) out-of-the-box is nothing new for me. I seem to live my life in search of unique ways to bring education to life for my children. Often times, brainstorming ideas with them takes up a majority of our time when preparing for an assignment. I want to teach them to think, be creative and think some more!
In our homeschool, writing is one of the toughest subjects for me to teach. I struggle with not wanting to tell them what to write… so much so, that I struggle with giving them any direction at all. I don’t know where the actual struggle is, as they are quite creative. They spend hours messing up every inch of table space building, crafting, experimenting; and they are master story-tellers, delivering well thought out plots. Yet somehow, this creativity struggles to wind its way down through the pencil held between their fingertips.
Facing this struggle head-on, I have purposed to focus on writing this year. Recently, Bookworm Beauty had a letter writing assignment. A simple assignment to be completed in her writing journal. She asked if she would get credit for the assignment if she were to write a real letter to a real person to be mailed. Thrilled at her out-of-the-box thinking, I consented – with more enthusiasm than was necessary I’m sure.
Shortly thereafter, she handed me a photocopy of her letter for her notebook (my only request). I was awed. This was a well thought out letter. It wasn’t to her pen pal cousin. It wasn’t to a friend. It wasn’t even to a family member. The well written letter was addressed to Broncos Jersey #18 – Peyton Manning!
One must understand that our household tends to burst with a bit more energy in the fall… it isn’t the lower temperatures… it’s football season… and our energy further surges when the Broncos are playing. I quickly began a search for information on where to send fan mail for Mr. Manning; only to be impressed to find that had taken the initiative to do her own research. Bookworm Beauty’s envelope was addressed; enclosed was the hand-written letter, a picture of herself and a self-addressed stamped envelope. I have never witnessed such self-direction and self-motivation from her when completing a writing assignment of any kind!
This assignment was completed weeks ago and daily I silently wondered if she would get a response as she eagerly checked the mail… but joy comes in the morning! Mr. Peyton Manning came through. He had taken a few minutes out of his time to honor my 5th grade daughter. Everyone’s eyes lit up as she pulled out three autographed photos of #18 himself; one for her, one for The Boy and one for Sweetness (requests Bookworm Beauty had made).
In the end, writing skills are important. Knowing how to write essays has its place – after all, you could end up blogging someday. Knowing how to write a personal narrative is necessary as you will certainly need to write a cover letter for a wanted position. But nothing can replace the skill of knowing how to write a personal letter… especially when you get the reward of a response!
Bookworm Beauty took this assignment a step further, learning far more than the curriculum guide aimed to accomplish with this writing assignment. She learned how to be personable. She learned what a SASE was. She learned how to take a risk. And she learned that famous people are real people too.
I’m thinking she looks a bit taller today… to her, she is no longer just a fan, she was important enough to get a response, and that is a definite TOUCHDOWN in my book!