* Please note that this project has changed a bit since I wrote this post. To read about the changes and the new platform click here
I firmly believe that nothing can motivate children to write better than writing for an authentic audience. Rather than pretending to write a newspaper article, it would be much more beneficial for them if they could actually write for a newspaper, receive feedback and comments from real people and know that their work is being read by some one other than granny and grandpa. With homeschooling children this becomes an even greater challenge as they do not have a school full of audience to see and provide feedback on their work. With this goal in mind I have previously tried to set up a platform through the means of internet where our kids can publish their work and receive comments and feedback in a safe environment. I tried to set up a blog carnival but unfortunately I never got a response. Though there are many such platforms available, with social networking tools in every one’s pockets now a days, but from a Muslim mother’s perspective they don’t feel safe enough for my younger kids.
This time I am trying to make things much simpler and more interesting for kids as well as parents. I have set up a blog by the name of Al-Atfaal Express. The idea is that here children can write about the places they have been, the places they love, the places they live, the cultures and traditions about those places etc. There is no limitation as to what they want to write about, it can be the street they live or the nearest museum, the beach they enjoyed on holidays or the natural reserve they visited over the summer. There is also no age limit, your three years old can also have a go with hand made drawing or as a parent you can also contribute a photo essay.
This will not only give our children an authentic audience to write for, they will also learn essential communication skills by writing comments on each others posts ( all comments would be moderated for unsuitable content), they can share their love of exploring new places and can learn about other countries and their cultures.
The style of writing is also very flexible. your child can either send a simple article about a place with pictures or if they like they can make photo essays, slide shows with captions, videos , make digital posters, or even hand drawn pictures. There are no deadlines, no pressure. It is going to be an on going exchange with no limit to how many posts a child can send. It is not a competition, it is simply a place to share your love of exploration and writing with others!
If you are interested in participating, fill out this contact form. (you will need a google/gmail account, if you haven’t got one already registering for one is free) once you fill out the form, you will receive an email to submit your child's name/initials/screen name and a choice of thumbnails. When we will receive this info we will add a thumbnail of your child in Meet The Team page and send you an invitation to participate in authoring in this blog and that’s it! Your child can start posting right away.
Before you post it is advisable that you read Before Posting Page first as it gives you ideas on what to write, some conditions that must be met for posting (like the content mustn’t be against Islamic shariah), and what things (like child’s age) to include in your post.
I hope you will give it a try and may this project be a means to instill love of writing and exploring in our children. Aamin.