Recently Jan, my 8 year old was given a project in school, to write and print out a story for children within the age range of 5 or 6 years. 5 year olds.
For days she sat at the computer, the blank screen staring (occasionally winking) at her.
She started with the title " The rabbit and the snail" , then after a line decided the story wasn't coming together and changed the title to "The hare and the spider".
That didn't go too well either after the first line.
I saw titles linked with princesses and mermaids, but the delete button kept getting them.
Finally, i intervened after seeing her frustration.
(Now I think of it, its possible all that show was to get me to come to her aid immediately, hmmm)
I gave her a very simple advice:- "start with the end in mind"
Her expression was either different strokes "what you talking' bout willis" or plain old "huh"
I told her that to write a good story, she needed to see in her minds eye what she wanted to story to be about. (some writing experts might reason differently but we will talk about that later).
I told her to figure out what she wanted to write about and then the title would come to her during the writing, not before.
She looked at me, hands on her chin and asked "How can you be so sure about that?"
My answer was simple, "I have been down this road one too many times."
I find that in life to achieve anything meaningful, this rule applies.
(Emphasis on meaningful !)
We can liken writing a goal to writing the body of the story, I said.
What do you want your story to be about?
Do you want your story to talk about princesses or fashion?
Do you want your story to teach children about the importance of honesty or to emphasise the merits of handwork?
You have to know what your goal is?
Yep, you guessed right? She was beginning to lose interest so i changed strategy.
"Let us write a fun story about a naughty tortoise who liked to trick people but at the end of the story, he lost all his friends because no one wanted to play with him anymore"
"Cool!" she replied.
With no title yet, we started weaving humour and morals into 8 pages. I had to let her have the upper hand because she was cutting off parts that didn't just make sense to her or that she felt were not relevant to the story. (and you thought your editor was harsh. lol)
Finally, somewhere close to the end, the title came.
One thing is certain, children might not be able to immediately comprehend all the lessons and advice you give them, but that should not stop you from continually teaching and showing them practical strategies to help them excel in life.
Trust me, they are listening (yes even the much younger ones who can't keep still or the older ones who act like they know it all already).
The lesson today: Start with the end in mind!
See in your minds eye where you want to go or what you want to achieve, and everything will come into place once you start moving.
Practical lesson for you as you work to improve yourself, practical advice to give your children for their work and life.