Dr. Charles Bernstein’s interview with the Epoch Times
Written by Christina Trujillo
Working with Imagination: Falling in Love with Writing through Creative Writing.
Let the children express themselves
Charles D. Bernstein, Ph.D, the founder of Early Learning Institute (ELI) located in the South Bay, describes writing as a form of communication, which allows children to express themselves and exercise their logical thinking. An educator said that being good at expressing oneself is a skill as well as a gift. To help children develop the ability to express themselves is to give them the power to share their thoughts with the whole world.
Nurture the imagination and think outside of the box
It takes good imagination to be an inventor, scientist, or a developer. Creative writing can help children think out of the box and improve problem solving skills. If a child is going to write a story about an unusual animal, he will first have to convince his readers about the existence of this being. This requires detailed descriptions, including the characteristics, behaviors and personalities of this creature that allows the readers to accept its possibility.
Unlike the traditional classroom approach, students here practice their grammar and spelling through the process of creativity while writing about subjects that they are interested in.
A mother in the Bay Area has highly recommended ELI in her discussion with her friends about how to develop children’s creative writing skills. In this South Bay school, students are able to call their teachers by their first names, rather than ‘Ms.’ or ‘Mr.’ Here, the teachers are just good friends who help guide children to learn.
The most interesting thing is that to help develop their writing skills, the students will be reading college text books with the help of the teachers. 7-year-olds are able to follow the university level text books, which helps them gain confidence. They may show-off to their parents, “See, I can read a college text book!”
The curriculum of the writing camp was designed by Dr. Bernstein, and has continued for over 10 years. There are detailed requirements for the teachers on each lesson plan. There are two parts of the writing camp’s program: essay writing and creative writing. For the essays, students are learning how to do an outline. They need to find a thesis, and then work on the detailed content. Students are also learning how to make smooth transitions between paragraphs.
On the first day of the creative writing course, the children are asked to think about what stories they want to write about. On the second day, they will be doing the story writing. On the third day, they are writing scripts and then poetries on the fourth day. On the fifth day, students are allowed to write whatever they wish. Children are benefiting academically, while enjoying the fun of writing in this busy and intense program.
Christina is a Senior Administrator at Early Learning Institute, a Palo Alto-based organization that operates child care centers and private schools in the Bay Area—including the HeadsUp! Child Development Centers in Palo Alto, North San Jose, and Pleasanton, Emerson School in Palo Alto and Hacienda School in Pleasanton—and offers writing programs for school-age children.