Helena hates writing. Writing as in the act of making letters and spelling, not writing as in the ideas/concepts, and she even appears to like editing (or maybe not and she’s just very very good at it). Helena got me to give her a spelling test the other day – self directed, and probably because she thought she would be successful.. it didn’t quite end in tears but close. Helena also doesn’t like to write for no reason. She “wrote” (dictated) her account of being a hut warden because a lovely woman called Karen at DoC suggested it. This she wrote because someone asked.
“Hello, my name is Helena. I am 8 years old. I belong to a Community Gardening group and I have my own garden at home. I do lots of planting and watering, sometimes I sit and chat to my garden. Gardening makes me feel happy. I like being outside with the bees and the breezes. I feel part of it, nature, helping, not just a tiny dot. You feel more of a friend to a person if you know their name, it’s the same with plants. I know a few like Kanuka and Manuka which you can make tea with. I think of them as the twins. I think of Tòtara as the big kid, strong and tall and the Māori used it for their waka. I like knowing the histories and uses of plants and telling other people about them. When I was little I ate so much Kawakawa, it’s nice in your bath too. Kids like plants, and knowing their names. When he was 1 my friend Scott called Forget-me-nots “not nots”. He really loved them. The bush is better than gardens though. It’s my playground, it’s fun, I feel at home.”
It surprised me. The depth of her thoughts. Helena dictated her ideas as notes, we ordered them, I wrote the actual words, I read it back and she edited it until she thought it sounded right. No problem… and it may end up in a book.
How many other children are out there who are writers but hate to write? How do we adults help them to find their voice? The barrier of the physical act of writing can hide so many skills… and means some people never get heard.