Purple Ink

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S got mad today when I corrected her writing. The first thing I pointed out was how neatly she wrote. It was immaculate.  But then she started the first sentence of her writing with an incorrect word and it was downhill from there! She is very sensitive when I correct writing because that feels very personal to her.
I realize that writing can be subjective, but we’re working hard on the basics to help her communicate better and more effectively.
She stormed off angrily (but not in a tantrum). She came back in less than 5 minutes with tears in her eyes and apologized and told me her feelings. She did a good job of working through the incorrect thinking without staying angry. She was able to “hear” the good things I believe about her, specifically concerning her writing.
Earlier, she took every correction and believed she was inadequate. She didn’t even process the good things I was trying to enforce. I have told her over and over how far she has come in all her subjects. She worked with a speech/language therapist for a few years because of a diagnosis of auditory processing disorder. I see very little of this diagnosis in her schoolwork when she is in the right frame of mind to work (ie not sabotaging or stuck in wrong thinking). She has come leaps and bounds although today she didn’t hear me say that.
She didn’t like the red ink. Next time we’ll try purple 🙂
She was trying to write like the book Anne of Green Gables (because I often relate how expressive and captivating the language is). S loves to read and her writing is reflecting the hours she spends lost in books. Writing also comes from a heart that is full, and as she continues to heal I believe her writing will improve.
She wanted to prove how much she had changed and wants to be like me. She realizes that I’m the one she loves the most and wants to be more like me. Huge, huge compliment, but not a perfect model for her. I want her to believe she is uniquely gifted and talented. Her job is to search, experiment and practice until she discovers those gifts. I want her to seek to be more like Christ, not like me. I will fail her and push her too hard and fall off this pedestal she has me on. It is flattering and such a tangible sign of attachment, but I don’t want her to live for my approval. Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
It thrills me when my daughter and I are able to get angry and work through our problems without hours of raging, sulking, sabotaging and manipulating. Thank you, God, for this evidence of years of hard work and healing. For both of us.
Thoughts on solutions: S says she would feel better with a purple pen. Works for me.
Have her write more on the computer. Let her final copy be mark free.
Writing also comes from a heart that is full and as she continues to heal I believe her writing will improve.
Don’t correct all her writing (which I don’t).
Continue to work on the basics of grammar, sentence structure and communication skills.
Encourage! S is at the point where she CAN be encouraged without sabotaging. I need to get myself into that “normal” parenting mode again.
Help her understand I am teacher AND mom and that makes it harder at times. Helping her understand a schoolteacher would also use a pen and correct the mistakes!
I’d love for you to read more about our homeschooling adventures and adoption story.
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Linking with: ABC and 123 Finding Beauty, 3 Boys and a Dog, Living Life Intentionally
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  1. Coming from a professional writer … and former writing teacher … I think a Purple Pen is an excellent choice. 🙂

    I tell homeschooling parents ALL the time … “Don’t correct everything. Don’t fill every type of writing with Red Pen marks. Let your child have some writing that is purely for the act of creating and expressing.”

    Glad you were able to work through the issue without a full out rage. God is at work.

    Laurel 🙂

  2. Glad at how far she has come!

    Random thought… if she’ll do more on the computer, I wonder about printing her writing assignments twice… one for marking the things you like (one color) and talking about them first…

    then another, with purple marks, for the mechanics and such that need to be corrected?

  3. You should check out this link. I haven’t used this but it looks fantastic.
    Expensive as, but hoping the school I am going to teach at will want to get it.

    A good method for having freedom to write “uncorrected” are dialogue journals. Google them. I used them for years in special needs classrooms.

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