slice of life · writing

Taking a More Hands-Off Approach #sol16

Isabelle's three-page story
Isabelle’s three-page story I inadvertently forgot to write the word “went” between we and down on page three.

Halfway out the door to the car, Isabelle turned to me and said, “You didn’t talk to me about writing this morning.”

“I know,” I said. “We can talk about it on the way to school if you’d like.”

Once we were settled into the car, Isabelle mentioned the writing center. “You’re coming in today, right?”

“Yes, I’m coming in to work with you and your friends. What are you going to write about?”


“Are you going to write about the walks you and Daddy took in the meadow this weekend? That would make a great story.”

“No,” she said. “I’m going to write about sledding with Sophie.” (Sophie is our neighbor’s daughter.)

“Didn’t you write about that already?” I inquired.

“No! I wrote about sledding with Daddy,” she corrected.

“Oh, okay. Do you want to tell me what happened first, second, and third?”

Isabelle recounted her sledding adventure with minimal details. Unlike last Monday, I didn’t push her to add more. Even though I wanted to get her to say more, I figured it was up to her to add more relevant details. After all, her classmates don’t have someone practicing with them in the car.

I took a more hands-off approach once she came over to the writing center in her classroom. She knew her story. Like every other kid who comes over to work with me, I asked Isabelle to practice telling it aloud, touching each page as she told a different part. Then, I just let her write.

The only thing I did (because I couldn’t help myself) was push her to say a little more on the third page of the story. She said, “And then we went down.”

“What did you go down?” I asked. (I would’ve done that for any kid, not just my own!)

“The snowy hill,” she said.

“What a great description of the hill, Isabelle. You could’ve just said hill, but it was after the blizzard, so snowy helps me get a better idea of what it looked like.”

Granted, her pictures were devoid of trees or hills, but I said nothing. I was trying to be more hands-off today.


16 thoughts on “Taking a More Hands-Off Approach #sol16

  1. NOTE: Even though I was “hands-off,” I encouraged Isabelle to label her own pictures. I did provide the spelling of Mommy and Sophie, which I would’ve done for any other kid (if they asked).

  2. I admire your “hands-off” approach. It is so hard to do sometimes. But you have reminded her that she is a writer, and only she knows the story she wants to tell!

  3. This reminds me a bit of what I do with my high school students in Creative Writing class. We call it “writer knows best.” Even with all the feedback in the world, the writer still has the final say about the piece.

    Balancing teaching and parenting is hard!

  4. You do dialogue so well! I can hear the conversations perfectly. I feel the tough balance between mommy and writing teacher too. I often have that problem with my boys. Any kind of teaching, discipline, routine, etc. Anyways, I get a kick out of Isabel. It’s posts like these that make her seem like such a little grown-up and then the pictures are so cute and bring her back to she’s just a little girl.

  5. She is so lucky to have you as a mother and a teacher. The hardest thing for me as a mom was not to correct my daughters writing. It was critical to me she felt home a safe place to play with writing. How cool you get to see her in both environments.

  6. I love how you bring me right into the moment with your descriptions and dialogue, Stacey. Sounds like you felt better this time than last. Like I said before, it is so hard to work with your own child, to let go. But look at what she did!

  7. Stacey! It is so hard to be hands off when it comes to our children being creative! I would have pushed only a little too! 🙂 That line made me laugh out loud! Thank you for sharing this slice of your day! I wish all pre-schools had a writing center and a person like you supporting it! Lucky lucky all around!

  8. I like how Isabelle already waits for you and the writing workshop. I think it is so special that you get to be in her class.

  9. Although I know it is challenging to teach our own children, it’s makes for a special kind of memory for us and for them. Thank you for such a detailed account. I felt as if I were watching the whole scene unfold.

  10. So hard to step back and let our kids learn on their own. I love how you work with her and lovely that you work in her class with writing. It is fun to hear about her growth.

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