Friday, 17 July 2015

Creative Writing week comes to an end in Muff

Today saw the end of one amazing week of chldren'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 (The WRITE STUFF) 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 on the camp. They asked to stay and I couldn't say no. Another little girl, aged just 8, from Carndonagh also enrolled for three days, as she's an avid reader and wanted to know how to write alongside her reading. The other children were all 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 different reading material and writing strategies.
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 and read what they had written. I was so inspired as they each took to writing out their vision boards.
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 might place themselves in a different setting. Each child encouraged one another and made suggestions for each character they had been given. Much discussion and laughter continued. 
Today we were left with just 6 children. Holidays to Portugal and trips to Galway left just half the camp for the final day. We took advantage of the little dry spell and had a walk to the community park in Muff where everyone played together as friends. On our return, the kids wrote haiku's and six word stories about the trip to 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 earlier I felt very proud of what each of them have achieved. They have exceeded all my expectations. They have taught me so very much. I only hope I have taught them a little of what they have taught me.
A huge thank you must surely go to Kathryn Anderson and all at Warrenview Manor in Muff for providing an amazing space to host this Creative Writing week. Thank you to Gill & Macmillan books and Little Acorns Bookstore, Derry 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 the most enjoyable week I've had in a long time.  Here's to the future and this wee group is definitley just beginning.

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