"But I Hate Writing!"
How many times have we heard that one? If you're like most teachers and home educators, you've likely heard it more times than you ever care to think about. Writing can be one of the most difficult subjects to evaluate. We all tend to compare ourselves to the most phenomenal writers. I know I did.
I remember in high school I constantly put myself down for my writing ability. My problem wasn't that I was a poor writer, though. My problem was that I was constantly comparing myself to outstanding, gifted writers in my class. I had several friends who probably grew up to be authors themselves. I looked at their creativity, their prose, their poetic narratives and then looked down (literally and metaphorically) at my own. I didn't measure up. I hated that class. I was a good student. But every time I went to that class, I left feeling unworthy. Why on earth did my guidance counselor and parents put me in that class?
In my senior year, I had the opportunity to load up on academic electives and graduate one semester early. I hated high school and was eager to take up this challenge when it was presented to me. Whatever it took to get out of there! One of the courses I still needed was a writing course. But there were no other "gifted" writing courses available. I was thrilled to be put into a lower level course where I was sure I belonged anyway. It was there that I discovered something about myself that has stuck with me for decades now (yes, I'm showing my age).
I entered that course and once again began comparing myself to those around me. But this time, I began to feel proud of my writing. It was not the lowest in the class. I was even beginning to praise myself sometimes for my writing. I realized with time that my problem was not my writing, but who I was comparing myself to. In the "gifted" class, I compared myself to the best writers in my grade. That wasn't me. But that didn't mean that I was a bad writer. And there's nothing wrong with that. We don't have to always be the best, but we do need to be able to realistically evaluate our skills in order to improve. I learned to do that with my own writing during that senior year of high school.
I still don't think I'm an outstanding writer. I'm okay though. I may even have some skill. But I'm also real. There are some styles of writing where I excel, and there are others that are still much more challenging for me. And the truth is that I've come to enjoy writing.
So, how can we get our children to self-evaluate and be realistic about their own writing abilities? One strategy is to have them grade themselves using the same scale you may use to evaluate their writing. One such writing scoring rubric can be found here for free when you sign up on the Homeschool Hotlinks mailing list at the bottom of this page. Check it out and let us know what you think. And remember, when you start to feel bad about your abilities, take a step back and see who or what you are comparing yourself to. You might find that you've been looking at the wrong source all along.