My son loves to tell stories. Long, detailed stories. He follows me from room to room through the house, talking all the while and happy to have an audience. He talks in the back seat while we’re running errands. He talks while I’m cooking supper. And even when his teeth are brushed and he’s all tucked in for the night, he still talks in the dark, giving life to the characters which live inside his imagination.
His first grade teacher once told me, “That little guy? His sub-plots have sub-plots.”
But ask him to write down his story, and you’ll be lucky to get two sentences. He loves to tell stories, but not on paper. Writing is a chore for him, and the words stop flowing when the pencil hits the paper.
I can relate to him. My mom swears I backed her into a light pole one time because I wouldn’t stop talking in the back seat. My father lost his peace and quiet of getting ready in the early morning hours when I discovered that I could have him all to myself if I got up early enough. And, while I think they’re exaggerating, my parents tell me my first words were, “You know what?”
But writing was easy for me. I labored for weeks over my first mystery novel in the third grade – page after page of filled notebook paper bound with yarn and encased in burlap-wrapped cardboard. What was supposed to be a two-day assignment turned into a massive project for a child who had a lot more to tell than could be told on the front and back of a piece of paper.
So it has become a mission of mine to give my son the best tools I can to help his own stories be told. And I’ve discovered a powerful, easy tool which has already made a difference in only a week.
As he complained about writing out his spelling words (a continual litany which runs from Monday to Friday morning in our house), I racked my brain for a way to make it a less-painful, more productive process. A quick search of the internet turned up exactly what I was needing: a dotted font which allows me to type in rows of his spelling words which he then traces while he says them out loud.
Yes, he still complained, but not as loud or long. It was far easier to trace those words than write them on his own. And – an added benefit is that the words were easier to read by the end of the week. Not only did it imprint the words in his memory, but it helped his writing as well.
I knew it was a success when he walked through the door yesterday.
“How was your day?” I asked.
“Not good,” he said, trying to hide the smile. “Nope, not good. It was great!”
He pulled out the spelling test and showed me his almost perfect score.
It’s only a week, but already he has fifteen new words in his toolbox. Give him a year, and he’ll be well on his way to telling his own stories on paper. No, I don’t think it will slow down the talking. But that’s ok, too. I like hearing him talk.