If you’ve been reading my blog this month, then you probably already know that my third grade daughter, Wren, is taking part in her second Slice of Life Student Challenge. As we near the end of the month, I’ve been thinking about the writing routine that has settled over our house and how it has changed from last year. Last year, Wren and I did a lot of the challenge together. I helped her think of ideas and did a lot of her typing (and by default, editing). There were plenty of nights that we’d be heading to bed and one of us would remember her Slice of Life…and then there we would be, sitting in her bed late night writing.
This year, the routine has shifted completely. At the very beginning of the month, I think it was March 31, Wren sat down and made a list of ideas in her notebook. This list has fueled many of her slices this month. Usually, when I’m leaving for work, I remind Wren that she should get her writing done before school. Then, she happily grabs her Chromebook, sets up at the kitchen table, and gets to work.
When I get to work, I usually like to check in to see what she chose to write about that day. Sometimes, I get busy right away and don’t remember to check until later in the day. It always feels like a treat, reading her words and her perspective on memories that stand out in her life. Sometimes, I’m amazed by the moments she remembers with such clarity. Mostly, I’m just a proud mom.
In the last week, we’ve added to this writing routine. Every morning, I braid Wren’s hair before school. She usually meets me in the bathroom after getting dressed and I re-braid her hair. I’ve taken this quiet moment as a time to conference with Wren. Our afternoons are usually pretty busy and I never seem to get a chance to even tell Wren that I’ve read her writing. So, this quiet morning moment has turned into a time to talk. We share ideas. I tell her about my thoughts, the things I noticed her trying, and then I’ve been offering her a quick tip. Of course, I’ve been super careful about this, not wanting to be too teacher-ish, but more like a writing partner.
My middle daughter, Adi, actually noticed that Wren started most of her slices the same, with the day of the week and the weather. So, one morning, we talked about different ways you might start a piece. When I got to work that day, I was excited to see that Wren had taken my tip to heart and that day she experimented starting her piece with dialogue. You can read that piece here.
The next day, during our hair routine, I complimented Wren on her lead. After talking a bit more about her piece, I offered my next tip about meaning. I reminded her she should really think about why she is writing about each moment. Why did that moment matter in your life?
Again, when I got to work, I saw that she had listened to my tip and tried to weave in a bit of a life lesson. You can read that piece here.
Wren has really grown as a writer and I’ve been really happy to share this experience with her. Writing together connects us in a new way and I’ve really loved watching Wren grow as a writer. We’ve talked about what her writing routine will look like moving forward. Last year, once the April student challenge was over, Wren didn’t touch her blog again for the rest of the year. Right now, she’s really into it and thinks she can write every day for a year. I’ve also invited her to stick with writing on Tuesdays. Either way, I’ll be happy to share these moments together.