Families Writing

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My mother saved a few of my school papers, as all mothers do, I suppose. It's interesting to see my little-girl handwriting, but to be perfectly honest, spelling lists and mimeographed worksheets are kind of boring to look it. My mother also saved letters. Boxes and boxes of letters. Now those are fascinating to me. They give a glimpse into relationships and activities our family was involved with all those years ago. It makes me sad that letter-writing is pretty obsolete these days. The boxes of letters pretty much end in the mid-1990s when everyone got email and flat-rate calling became so cheap.

As a grandmother, my mother marvels over the wonders of modern technology and instant communication. With her 5 children and 9 siblings scattered all over the country, each in a different city, she loves being able to stay in touch with all of us. She even has a Facebook account to stay up-to-the-minute with her grandchildren. But she, too, misses the written record that weekly letters provided.

I enjoy writing. Not everyone does. It is an effort. Often it's hard to challenge our children to write their school assignments, let alone "just for fun." They love to text one another and post inane Facebook status updates, but pick up a pencil? Are you kidding?

I'm old-fashioned enough to want a written record of our lives, so over the years I've incorporated some sneaky fun ways to get my family writing more.

One of my favorites is the dialog journal. Using a blank spiral notebook or journal, I will write a short letter to one of the children about something that is going on today. It might be about a school assignment, their chores, something they did well, or current events. I always include at least one question. Then I give the journal to my child with the understanding that I expect a response by the next day. She writes her reply in the same notebook and turns it back over to me. It's a challenge for both of us to keep it going, but it makes a precious keepsake and gives the kids good practice writing. We like to decorate the pages with stickers or doodles.

We also keep a journal in our travel-trailer. Each night that we sleep in the trailer we log where we are, what the weather is like, what we cooked for supper, and whether any friends were with us. We've kept similar journals for road-trip vacations we've gone on-- where we are each night, how many miles we traveled each day, places we visited and people we saw.

And then, of course, there's blogging. While I don't feel as comfortable sharing the nitty-gritty of our daily lives online as some people do, it's still a great way to record the highlights. I have set up private blogs for "family only" at various times. For my daughter's senior year, she and I set up a private blog where we dialoged about current events and other assignments in her Core 400 program. We have another private blog where my parents, siblings, and I share old letters, memories and photos that are pretty much meaningless to anyone else.

What about your family? How are you encouraging your children to write? I'd love to hear your ideas!



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