My youngest son loves to tell stories.
Elaborate, epic, complicated and funny stories.
He is always, always the hero.
Much to my chagrin, his mother is usually the villain. (Sigh.)
He has been telling stories for as long as I can remember.
My little storyteller is also the subject of much concern in most educational assessments.
“He struggles to write a complete sentence,” I tentatively said to his therapist.
“He is dyslexic and dysgraphic, Shawna. Of course, he struggles,” he said to me, warmly but with resolve. “That’s why you are working so hard to help him. He may never be a writer, but that’s OK.”
“Maybe he’s right,” I thought. “Maybe I just need to let it go. Writing is just not his thing”
I didn’t buy a writing curriculum for this school year.
I figured it was time to deal in truth – maybe the best we could hope for is that my son would master the basics and excel in other ways.
Then, about three months in, I heard this podcast with Julie Bogart from Brave Writer.
The realization hit me like a ton of bricks.
I had been so focused on the mechanical aspects of writing that I had inadvertently limited my son.
My eleven-year-old son, who can barely read at a second-grade level and struggles to put a single word on paper, is more of a writer than I ever was at his age.
He is dyslexic, yes. He is dysgraphic, yes.
And he is also a writer.
Please note: In exchange for an honest review, I received a complimentary copy of The Writer’s Jungle. I love it and am happy to share it with you.
How My Dyslexic Son Became A Writer
The Writer’s Jungle is more for the teacher than for the student. In fact, the author Julie Bogart, says it right in the introduction –
“This course is for you, the homeschooling mother.”
Written by a professional writer and homeschooling mom of five, The Writer’s Jungle is an honest, real life look at how children master written language.
The first step?
Not on paper (at least not until middle school), just oral narration.
“A girl who can tell you the contents of Anne of Green Gables, a boy who can teach you how to play Pokemon, a girl who repeats the whole dialog she had with her Sunday school teacher – all are practicing narration – the most important pre-writing skill. “
Moreover, Brave Writer stresses the importance of a “language-rich environment as a foundation for learning to write.
“Give your kids a language-rich environment where reading literature, poetry and the newspaper is an ordinary occurrence, where moving viewing includes discussions, where read-alouds are opportunities not just to follow the hungry plot line but a chance to notice the skill and craft of a master writer. These experiences do more to form writers than all of the workbooks and writing programs combined.“
Reading through The Writer’s Jungle was so freeing. Incorporating Brave Writer into our learning has been effortless.
My family already does much to encourage writing – I just didn’t know it.
The audio books in the car every day.
The long (sometimes painfully long) discussions about Harry Potter fan theories.
The conversations around our favorite movies.
My son’s telling and retelling of stories – his own and the ones he hears in our home.
I didn’t know how much I needed to hear that it all “counts.”
Julie Bogart is teaching me that our daily life greatly matters in building my son’s ability to write and communicate well.
“You are an amazing writer,” I said to my sweet son as I printed up his story.
He narrated all 1,947 words to me this afternoon.
I typed as he wove in and out of storylines and character development.
He jumped up and down with excitement as he reached the climax of the story.
And I felt nothing but gratitude looking into his eyes, bright with the thrill of creating something wonderful.
Brave Writer is helping me see the potential that has been there all along.
My son doesn’t think about the nouns and the verbs in each of his sentences.
He doesn’t provide an introductory statement in his paragraphs.
He doesn’t carefully put pen to paper for assigned topics.
But my goodness, that boy can write.