My little writer – Pari – is giving wings to her thoughts and ideas. She’s wanting to reach out to the world – through her beginning efforts at writing and through her obvious love for technology. She wants to connect, make friends, acknowledge people who read what she’s written, reply to her readers, and who knows what all….
All this – through this new-age medium called blogging!
Also, read why I think blogging is an empowering tool for kids to express, write, share and connect and learn along the way…
Her inspiration behind wanting to have her own blog was of-course seeing me writing on my blog, receiving reader comments, me writing back, creating pictures and collages (she loves playing around on picasa and picmonkey!). Not to mention – she has an inherent love for writing. Even as a toddler, she would scribble (without kniwing a letter!) for hours, with serious deliberation. Then she would tell me what she’s written. Her story usually would be – “boss has given me lot of work”, or “there’s a presentation I have to make” or “I’m writing letters to my boss”- you know all that office lingo picked up from listening to her father over phone!
Until now, I’ve presented her with different ways that she can write and express herself in – depending on her interest. There was a phase when she was enamoured by letter writing. Then, she took to a ritual of writing before bed time. She called it her night-time diary. This past month – she wrote some poetry along side me. She’s loved doing art and writing together. So, she’s been into writing in ways that interested her at a specific time.
And now blogging. I feel that this blog can take her love for writing to another level.
1. REAL Audience and Feedback
The most compelling reason I see behind it is that she’ll have a REAL audience who’ll read, comment, share feedback. There’s nothing else (I repeat – nothing else!) more important to a writer than having someone read and knowing that the information helped him/her in some way; or the reader enjoyed it; it brought a smile to his/her face, it made the person think. That is – it evoked some emotion and may be a reaction. If the reader chooses to share feedback, that’s a plus.
As Pari rightly thinks and told me recently – “You are so lucky – you get comments from people around the world and then you reply to them. You have made so many friends. I want my blog to be like that”.
I couldn’t have agreed more with her – the best part about blogging is getting to connect with so many wonderful people like you all from across the world. And having this opportunity to make friends with those who I’ve never met in real life.
For a child, having his/her work presented to a large audience can be really motivating. The work may be writings, art, poetry, videos of song and dance, or simply ideas.
2. Freedom and Empowerment
Something else that’s eternally satisfying about blogging is the freedom to write what YOU want to write. And in my view, this freedom is the most important and crucial gift to a child. They being able to write something – anything – that interest them, rather than writing for school text books or writing on given topics, can be infinitely empowering. It does wonders to their self-confidence and esteem. It helps them think clearly and articulate. After-all when you talk about subjects that you’re passionate about, the thoughts and ideas will flow – with clarity, vibrance and emotions.
Writing that has heart and soul in it will resonate with readers. They will not be left untouched and unaffected by your sentiments…
3. Adopting New-age Technology and Means
There may be much debate over kids using computer and internet and moving away from the traditional ways. Some think that the traditional pen/pencil and paper is the best way for kids to ‘practice’ writing. I don’t question the traditional way of writing. It has its own use and charm. But, we can’t deny the fact that writing on computer/laptop/ipad is the way that our children are going to do most of the writing – as soon as they start doing REAL writing. By real writing, I mean, writing that’s not for just school text books or for practice. Learning to type early on can be a big advantage.
- In the beginning stage when the child is not able to type as fast, she/he may get frustrated. Pari has a lot to talk about in her blog posts, but may not have the patience to type so much. When this happens, I take over from her. She dictates and I type verbatim.
- The safety aspect of the child sharing on the internet can be taken care of by setting up the comments to come to the parent’s inbox before appearing on the blog. So, I approve each comment before it’s published. Akismet is a wonderful plug-in for wordspress blogs to control spam.
4. Learning Spelling without Being Pointed Out
I never interrupt Pari’s writing by pointing out spelling mistakes. I think that the expression and flow of thoughts is much more important than getting the spellings right. The spellings will eventually come – early or late. The punctuations will fall into place, too. And, writing on the computer kind of takes care of the spellings.
When writing in a word document or in the blog editor, she started noticing the red underlinings and asked me why are they there. I said, they mean that you can right click and look up the correct spelling. She was thrilled! Now, every time she’s written a blog article, she will go through all the red marks to fix her spellings. Goes without saying – when doing that, she takes note of the correct spelling.
5. Graphic Design Skills
Even before her blog was set up, she’s been very interested in playing around with images on Picasa and recently – on Picmonkey. She sees me doing all this and has been taking keen interest. Now that she has a blog, she sees it as a part of her blogging job. To make a banner for her blog home page, she and I sat together and I showed her the basic stuff on picmonkey. I showed her how to make a collage-type banner. She chose the pictures that she wanted to put in that collage. I showed her the buttons that can change text style, size, colour etc. and she tinkered around and got what she wanted. For every other blog picture after that – I have showed her how to resize, put water mark, name the image! Of course, I sit there next to her but it’s she who does all this.
Yes, it takes time and patience on my part. But, I see it as part of her learning at home and me as a partner in her learning journey.
6. A Great Reminder of Past Efforts
A blog is a great visual source for the child to go back and see and review what all he’s done and where he’s come from. This can encourage him to keep at it, try more, practice persistence…
7. Way for Homeschoolers to Keep Record
Homeschoolers may need to show (due to state mandate – some states in the US and other countries) what the kids are learning. Homeschooled kids writing blogs can be an effective way to record. Plus, maintained over time, it can serve as a portfolio – if and when they go for higher studies or exams.
8. The Thrill of Creating and Publishing
All of you who own a blog, you know what it means to start creating a post from scratch; go on to add words and pictures, headline, title, subtitle. Sometimes a video. You read, re-read, for you want to make it good, useful, worthy of your reader’s time. You add useful links. You make sure the formatting makes it easy to read and pleasing to the eye. Then you preview, read again – one last time. Hold you breath. And, hit publish! And, you wait – with bated breath – for that first view, ‘like’, comment…..! Phew! It’s scintillating – EACH time. The act of creating something is phenomenal – to you at least. It may not matter to the world. But, you do your best in the hope that it will matter to the world because you try to make it useful. You put your heart into it.
Imagine what all this will mean to a child when it means so much to an adult like you and me.
9. Encourages Ideas and Conversations
Ever since she’s had this blog, I’ve found her thinking about what to write; what interesting can she say or share. She comes to me saying “let’s make cupcakes or a new recipe that I can share on my blog”. We then start talking about her ideas – leading to interesting and diverse conversations. Today, she has this big plan chalked out – to make cupcakes in the colours of the Indian Flag.
10. Making Friends and Socializing
Blogging can be a useful way for children to connect with like-minded souls. For homeschoolers especially, it can be a means to make friends with other homeschoolers around the world. For younger kids, parents need to provide guidance and be there along side when the kids are on internet. Pari has been sending and receiving emails from a couple of kids her age.
11. Not a Ritual or a Task
I intend for her to write when SHE has something to say. Blogging is not going to be a ritual like writing at school, or writing a diary – everyday. I’ll try my best not to keep expectations of her posting weekly etc. I might suggest an idea if I think she might enjoy writing about something she’s done or experienced. I might strike up a conversation, which may lead her to write. Or, she may want me to type for her while she talks. But, not more than that. For I don’t want to take away that joy of writing for your own interest and cherishing your freedom…
15th August – India’s Independence Day is tomorrow. And here is something Pari wrote when we started a discussion about what freedom means to her and to me. She spoke out her thoughts aloud and I typed it out for her.
I know I don’t even need to tell you to check her blog out, for you must have by now hopped on over to Pari’s blog to take a peek. You can picture her with a big warm grin on her face and sparkle of joy in her eyes when she reads your loving, encouraging comments.
Does your child have a blog that you’d like to share here. Actually, all our kid bloggers can form a community! There’s one I know of – it’s a homeschooled kids blog carnival.
Happy Independence Day