Helping young people blow away a learning block is a most wonderful thing indeed… It can, in fact, be truly magical! Just last week, for instance, I sprinkled magical learning dust in the direction of a regular tutee – 10 year old Will.
From the start, he needed support with his writing skills. Struggling to start a piece of writing or to think imaginatively, he needed to unblock his thinking.
Over several weeks, we explored words – explored how they sprang into life on the page right before Will’s eyes. From personification games to extending Will’s knowledge of synonyms, Will reached the point where he could create a thrilling description of wind attacking a house.
Clutching a bank of ‘windy words’ I’d provided, and having studied several examples of ‘weather’ writing, his ideas ebbed and flowed at first before scattering across the page like a blustery whoosh of wind.
Describing wind as a soldier punching leaves, then watching them spiral down to earth like fallen friends, was Will’s idea… Imagining the wind hitting the weeping window and then retreating back was Will’s idea…
My role was simply to give Will suggestions on how to start sentences differently. How to extend a sentence so that it has a powerful effect… How to extend an idea in a paragraph to retain that effect.
As Will scribbled away, even he didn’t realise how good his writing was. Little surprise then that his dad’s raised eyebrow was followed by a tone of surprise as he asked Will: ‘Are they your own words?’
Guided writing can be a most liberating experience, for the student, tutor and parent. Watching children leap over a hurdle which they once fell against does take people by surprise.
Ultimately, it’s proof that a wonderful English tutor can be a beacon of light to a child lost in the dark.