"What does Little Star Writing mean to you?"
We've been asking Little Star Writers this question during the last few workshops of the term, but we didn't expect the answers to be quite so personal...
"LSW is where I can be myself," one student said.
"LSW is where I can share my ideas without getting it wrong," replied another.
"LSW is where we have fun!" a few students shouted.
"It's where we learn to express ourselves and communicate our ideas," a quiet year 6 student said.
"LSW is EPIC!" yelled Will (who won't mind me mentioning him by name). "I wish it didn't have to end..."
Luckily for Will and the other year 6 students that are leaving for secondary school, Little Star Writing never has to end. Although they are no longer able to attend our workshops at their primary schools, the LSW family isn't one that just crumbles once the last class has taken place. We are in regular contact with various students who have left LSW - including some as old as 15 and 16, some who send us their stories for feedback, and some who have moved as far away as Taiwan and Qatar and email us stories of their adventures and the friends they've met.
Despite not losing contact with them, saying goodbye to the year 6 students last week was even harder than previous years, and that's because they’ve been with us the longest. When we started LSW 3 years ago, they were the youngest in the class and we’ve watched them grow in confidence, improve their skills and mature before our very eyes. During their time with us, they’ve learnt:
- how to communicate their ideas
- how to give and accept constructive criticism
- how to support and boost peers who think their work ‘isn’t good enough’
- how to work in groups and adapt their ideas to suit other’s
- how to edit and re-edit a piece of work to make it the best it can be
- how to share work with enthusiasm and flair
- how to entertain people with their ideas
- to listen and appreciate other people’s work
- to unleash their imaginations
- to follow instructions
- to work to time constraints and/or take their time
- to try their hand at something new
- to give something a go even if they’re not sure of it at first
- to be confident in their own ideas
- to be original
- “to be themselves…”
Of course we teach students new writing rules and story structures, we arrange author events so they can ask questions and get feedback on their work, and we introduce them to the rewarding nature of writing by publishing their work and entering them into competitions, but LSW isn’t just about advancing their writing skills. Occasionally parents ask us why we don’t mark the student’s work, why we don’t correct spellings or punctuation, and why we sometimes allow students to write ‘silly stories’, and it’s always tricky to answer, because, honestly, that’s not what LSW is about.
We believe that the success of the workshops or the improvement of a Little Star Writer cannot always be measured by how many words they can spell or what writing level they have attained… when a shy student asks to read their work out for the first time, when a reluctant writer races into the classroom and ‘can’t wait to start writing’, when students refuse to leave at the end of a session, when parents leave work early to say goodbye to us at the end of the term, when we get invited to end-of-year productions because students want us there, when we hear that students race out of bed on a ‘LSW day’ because they can’t wait to get to school, when we receive thank you cards and beautifully-written letters, when teachers tell us they’ve seen a difference in a child’s attitude toward writing, when students feel confident to express themselves through their writing, or just when a child says ‘thank you’ at the end of a class because they’ve enjoyed themselves… Little Star Writing isn’t just a club to improve writing skills – yes we love it when students increase by a whole writing level in one term, and we are incredibly proud when our students win competitions, are shortlisted for awards, and remember a new rule we’ve taught them, but we are most proud of being able to help students develop a love for writing.
As one lovely mum/teacher told us last year, "I don't care if my daughter doesn't improve her writing. She loves coming, and she's using her imagination instead of relying on the iPad or TV to entertain her. As long as she's enjoying herself, we'll keep coming.' Another teacher added to that by saying, 'It's incredible that you can actually get children to enjoy writing and they look forward to it. What a turn around from this time last year when it took a lot of coaxing and persuasion to get them to write anything at all.'
For more LSW feedback and to see what Little Star Writing means to other parents and students, check out our KalliKids profile (a parent recommendation website) here. We've also been shortlisted for a KalliKids award (for Best UK Educational Provider) and if you would like to vote for us, you can do so here(you'll find us in the 4th drop down box). THANK YOU!
"What does LSW mean to you?"
To us, Little Star Writing is a place for children to be children. It's where they can use their imagination, develop crucial communication skills they'll use for the rest of their lives, and it's a place where they are not afraid to express themselves.