Sunday, March 05, 2006

Homeschool Teen Reviews

My eldest daughter, Caitlín, is a writer in her own right. Almost 16 years-old, she is skilled far beyond the level I had attained at that age. This is due to both nature and nurture; she has the brains and the inclination, and has grown up in an environment that provides excellent support for her endeavors.

One of Cait's more recent endeavors has been creating the HomeschoolTeenReviews discussion list. My daughter has been aware of e-mail discussion lists for almost as long as she can remember, and has a good understanding of their potential value. As with my own discussion lists, Caitlín's was born out of the desire to create something that would satisfy her, but it has also served many others. The description of her list states that it is "for homeschooled teens to post their reviews of books and movies, in order to share their favorites and read recommendations from others."

My daughter has learned a lot through creating and managing her list. Caitlín has had practice setting boundaries with people she has never met, risked being "unpopular" for sticking to her boundaries, worked on making her message positive, discovered how to deal with the host if there are problems, and explored ways to make HS-Teen-Reviews a more active list.

In addition, Cait's list has given her an outlet for her prolific reviews. She has over 11 pages of book and movie reviews lined up to post over time. The first time I read one of them, I was incredulous that this girl, who formerly "hated" writing, had
created a thoughtful, well-crafted review. I noted that it was written in a professional format, and asked how she came up with that. "I read other reviews online and decided which elements I would like to include."

Raising this writer did not involve compulsory study of grammar, sentence diagrams, or long lists of spelling words to study or define. My daughter has simply been exposed to plenty of good writing, engaged in a variety of conversations, received assistance in finding answers to her questions, and supported in whatever project she chooses to take on. Caitlín became a writer by living a writer's life.

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