It is possible to work on written expression as soon as children learn how to write.
Keep in mind that you must always teach concrete before abstract. .
This morning, for example, I worked on a description with my 6 to 10 year-old students. I had them choose a picture of a “baby animal” and I asked them to describe the animal with the greatest number of details.
You can see by the pictures how they got caught up in the game.
I will repeat this exercise because they really appreciated it!
When the child is young, you should not make unpleasant comments on the way he writes his words. The most important thing is that he feels like expressing himself through writing.
If you quarrel over each crossing-out and each spelling mistake, your child will lose confidence in him, and all spontaneity in doing the exercise.
According to the class level of your child, you can have progressive demands. For the young child, make sure he puts a period at the end of the sentence and starts the next one with a capital letter. You can ask him to use a verb in each sentence. Then, when he grows older, ask him to watch out for his spelling, and the use of tenses. Of course, all of it must be done according to the child, avoiding any argument and in respect of his creativity.
Another way to address a description is to ask students to work on several pictures of the same animal. Then, read out the descriptions and ask the students to show you what picture it is. If the description is done well, the picture is easily found.
I will ask them to write several introductions to different pictures and I will keep them and make “introduction cards”.
Then, with these different introductions, I will ask my students to invent a little story about the animal and I will use it as the development.
Then, they will write their opinion about the story of the animal and that will become our conclusion. That way, we will have created a sort of short essay.
This must be an easy exercise because we are dealing with children in primary classes.
Thanks to these descriptions, we will work on Montessori grammar symbols and grammar rules in general: verbs, nouns, determinants and adjectives for the youngest and adverbs, pronouns, prepositions and conjunctions for the eldest. It is always easier to learn about grammar with self-written essays.
For descriptions, it is also interesting to work on images of landscape because there is a lot to look at and therefore a lot to write about. While describing, work on the notion of the adjective. It is important to tell the child that he must use a lot of adjectives to make his description precise. This is also a good way to teach them new vocabulary.
It is essential to develop the child’s creativity when he is very young and to find the best ways possible for him to want to write. This morning, I used the picture of a “baby animal” because I had noticed their interest in a book about that exact topic brought by one of the students last week. Keep in mind that you must work on what emotionally touches the child.
I often notice that good students in traditional schools are very “scholar” at the end of primary classes and do not express their creativity. Most of the time, they do not dare to. In Montessori classes, as well as in the English schooling system, written expression is very important from a very young age.
Have your children write as soon as they can. I remember one of my smaller students who at the age of 6 started to write poems all the time. She would write phonetically at the beginning which made it very hard to understand but I never discouraged her with spelling; it came naturally as she continued to write. She is now 18 and still writes wonderful poems!
There are other ways to develop creativity in written expression that I will tell you about in a following article.