Yesterday saw the end of one amazing week of children’s writing and reading in Muff. I held this week in response to a number of people who suggested it would be great to have a week for children who enjoy reading and who would like to develop their writing skills. As an English tutor and Freelance Writer I took it on board as a learning curve for myself as well as for the children.
Due to the content and workload of such a week I limited the numbers to 10 children. On Monday morning two 7 year olds came along with their siblings who had enrolled for the week. They asked to stay, so of course one couldn’t say ‘no’! Another little girl, aged just 8 from Carndonagh, also enrolled as she’s an avid reader and wanted to know how to write alongside her reading. The other children were aged 9, 10 and 11.
What followed after Monday at noon was 5 days of sheer enthusiasm and passion for the written and spoken word. I could never have envisaged how this week would pan out. As the days went by, I watched as these 12 kids developed their ability to critically evaluate a piece of literature. I watched as they learned to write in ways they had never experienced before. And most importantly I watched as these young people formed friendships and spent their time talking about, debating about, and comparing their different reading material and writing material.
At the beginning of the week I made it clear that at no time would anyone be expected to read aloud anything they were not comfortable with, but I also encouraged them to believe in their own individual abilities and be proud of what they can each do. By Wednesday, I had 7 and 8 year olds proudly stand up and read what they had written. I was inspired as they each took to drawing their vision boards and incorporate the written word into such.
By Thursday I sat back and smiled as the kids engaged in a thoroughly enjoyable debate on how a story might have a different ending or how the characters could place themselves in a new setting. Each child encouraged one another and made suggestions for each character that they had been given. Much laughter and discussion continued.
Today we were left with just six children. Holidays to Portugal and trips to Galway left just half the camp. We took advantage of the temporary dry spell and had a little walk to the community park in Muff, where the kids played together as friends. On our return to the camp, they wrote six word stories and haiku’s about their time in the park. And then they read Romeo and Juliet (junior version). The critical analysis that followed was priceless. These kids have done some serious literature analysis unknown to themselves.
As I said goodbye to the kids yesterday I felt very proud of what each of them have achieved. They have excelled all my expectations. They have taught me so very much. I only hope I have taught them a little.
A huge thank you must surely go out to Kathryn Anderson and all at Warrenview Manor in Muff for providing an amazing space to host this week. Thank you to Little Acorns Bookstore in Derry and Gill & Macmillan publishers for their very kind donation of books for the children.
And most importantly, thank you to all the children who came along over the past week. It has been a most enjoyable week. Here’s to the future and this wee group is definitely just beginning.