Blogging as a Learning Tool
My oldest daughter, a high school senior this year, started a blog last fall. It was all her idea, and it frankly took me a bit by surprise. Despite having a writing teacher dad, she had never shown much interest in writing. She always did well enough in her writing classes, but it just wasn’t her thing.
Blogging has changed that. She started because she is a thinker and wanted an outlet for the various ideas that periodically strike her. What took her by surprise is the encouragement she immediately received as family and friends began reading and responding to her posts. She discovered, almost accidentally, that she is not only a good writer, but that she really likes it after all.
I can’t think of anything that’s done more to inspire a love for words and written expression than this blogging experience. Part of it, I think, is having a real audience. It’s not writing in a vacuum. She doesn’t seek merely to please Mom, Dad, or a writing coach. She writes to provoke, inspire, and delight. And when she does it well — which is often — she gets lots of supportive feedback on her blog and her Facebook page.
To be honest, I’ve struggled a bit at just how much support she has gotten. It’s not unusual for her posts to get far more traffic than my posts here! It’s become a bit competitive, in fact. We like to tease each other about how many page views we receive on days we both post articles. She wins way too often.
An important factor in the effectiveness of this learning tool is that, well, it was never intended to be a learning tool. Even though I encourage and support her, the blog was always entirely her idea. And I think it matters that she writes what’s on her heart, not simply what has been assigned (not that there’s anything wrong with assigning writing projects!). She’s not just practicing writing. She’s actually writing and publishing her work for a real audience. An audience, as it turns out, who cares about what she has to say. That is motivating.
I only occasionally offer critique. I mostly commend what I like. But I’ve found her to be readily open to my input. She wants to get better. And one of the nice things about blogs is you can always go back and edit what you’ve posted. That way you don’t have to wait until it’s perfect to publish and it’s never too late to fix errors. It’s an ideal setup for learning how to write well.
Teens, think about starting a blog. Moms, dads, and teachers, think about suggesting the idea to your kids. I don’t know if requiring one is a good idea (I tend to doubt it), but if you have a teen who is so inclined, as a dad who has watched a young writer begin to grow in skill and passion, I recommend you encourage it!
Check out Stef’s blog here. Just don’t start visiting hers more than mine!
And if you or your teen starts or already has a blog, let me know in a comment, and I’ll link to it on our home page. If you have any questions about getting started, post them in the comments below. Stef will be happy to help you out.