I work with several students on building their language to support writing. We brainstorm ideas, organize them, make pictures in our mind, get ideas down on paper and then revise, adding wonderfully rich adjectives and correcting verb tenses. Teaching the importance of revising, changing and improving our work is important. It’s not a mistake to change our work.
When I was at Jim’s house this week, he happily ran into the house after a successful day at kindergarten. Carrying his darling drawing of the characters from a book dad was reading him, he showed Mom and me his picture. I noticed several pieces of white tape plastered over the paper in all directions, with revised drawings on top. Jim’s teacher is spending the week, showing her students that it is okay to make mistakes. Jim thought his picture full of add-on strips was just great. Imagine if kids could feel okay about making mistakes and reworking their drawings in kindergarten, then maybe they could think nothing of the writing process where they re-work an introduction, expand on the body of the piece or add more detail to the ending.
When my youngest son, Peter was little, he got so frustrated when he made a mistake. Finally, one Halloween, I got a pumpkin and told him we were going to carve it. Fully intending to model making mistakes, I proceeded to carve past the intended lines, make sure the top didn’t fit and fashion a pumpkin unacceptable to a 5 year-old. I’m not sure my plan worked but at least it started a dialogue about not having to be perfect.