5 Reasons First Graders Would Rule Your Writing Blog

Editor’s note: this is a guest post by fellow Top Ten Blogger Judy Dunn of Cat’s Eye Writer.

When I was a first grade teacher, the end of summer always made me reflective (actually, it still does). If there was going to be change, it was going to happen in the sun-drenched days of September.

Like the first day of school.

The intoxicating smell of new.

Scents of wool sweaters with prices barely clipped off and the fine shavings from freshly sharpened pencils. You know, the big old black ones that 6-year-olds could grasp in their pudgy fingers?

On the first day, I walked along the rows of tidy desks, placing a flat box of Crayola crayons on each one. Even today, all I need is a whiff of that heady wax scent and it takes me right back to the classroom.

Those, and the rectangular pieces of modeling clay that reeked of oil and stained your hands in one of three butt-ugly colors: Army green, chocolate-brown or steel-gray.

Most kids had the first day jitters. Giving them some clay kept them busy working to soften it—so busy that they forgot about their fear.

They were full of fears. And yet I learned so many things from them. One of them was how to blog.

5 reasons first graders would rule your writing blog


When I look at my start-up coaching clients, whether they have a writing blog or some other kind, I see the first grader thing going on. And I’m thinking I never want to lose that way of looking at things, as long as I blog.

Here’s why first graders rule.

1. They haven’t lost their sense of wonder and curiosity.

What they are like: For first graders, life is full of wonder. From losing that first tooth to reading their first word, every day holds surprises.

They are constantly asking. And one question just leads to the next. And the next, and the next.

They take the world in with all their senses. That means when they were gathered on the carpet for story time, I would hear that methodical rip-rip of their Velcro sneakers as they listened to Green Eggs and Ham.

Or one of them might slowly rub my foot just to feel the texture of my socks. (First time that happened, it freaked me out a little bit.)

They want to know how things sound, feel, look. And this is how they learn.

What they taught me about blogging: I will remember to see the wonder in small things. I will appeal to all the senses of my readers, so they can see, hear, and touch my words in their mind.

2. They think anything is possible.

What they are like: They are imaginative and brutally honest because they haven’t had it beaten out of them yet by well-meaning adults who just want them to conform so they don’t grow up to be axe murderers.

When two of them were arguing, all I had to do was give a hand puppet to each of them and they started a conversation—in the puppets’ voices—that resulted in making up and being friends again. They were not afraid to try on new hats.

What they taught me about blogging: I will tell stories in blog posts when they help me illustrate a concept. Take different points of view. Try on other perspectives. (And I still like to make puppets talk. But that’s another story.)

3. They think about weird stuff and sometimes they try it out to see what happens.

What they are like: First graders proudly own their ‘weirdness.’ To them, it’s a badge of honor. Like the time in the lunchroom, when Josh bet another boy that he could make a spoon stick to his nose.

Another time, when we were learning place value during math by gluing 10 beans on a tongue depressor, one little boy got a bean stuck in his nose. Okay, that one was kind of odd.

But the point is this: 6-year-olds are not afraid to think differently and try new things.

My blogging lesson: I will try writing all kinds of posts. I won’t throw an idea away just because it’s a little different. I may get a bean stuck in my nose every once in a while, but I will also never run out of shiny new ideas.

4. They are ‘in the moment.’

What they are like: First graders are blurters. If they have a thought, they just say it. Now. It may not be the most perfect idea, but they don’t care because they are testing their world. And if you ask them a question, they will give you their best and most honest answer.

What they taught me about blogging: I’ll respond to my readers in the comments section now, not tomorrow. When I get a new idea, it may be at 2am, but I will run down to the office and scribble it on the whiteboard before it goes poof.

I won’t try to analyze my posts to death. I will let them pour out of me I will edit (but not too much because then I lose my real self), run spell check and let them go out into the world.

5. They have stories and they need to share them.

What they are like: Have you ever been in a first grade classroom lately during Show and Tell? Hands waving wildly, squeals of excitement, little bodies leaning forward, waiting not too patiently for their turn to captivate the audience.

And they tell their stories with such excitement.

One little girl got a box of Fruit Loops for her birthday. (I learned later from her mom that she was only allowed to eat a sugary cereal once a year, on her birthday. Which explained her excitement. But still…)

A boy brought his umbilical cord in a jar and proceeded to take it out to pass it around.

Okay, that one was a little strange.

But their fellow classmates were always in awe because the kid ‘showing and telling’ did so with such passion and enthusiasm.

What they taught me about blogging: I will tell my stories and share my thoughts with passion. I will ‘show and tell’ with enthusiasm—but always with respect for my readers. (That means maybe no umbilical cords. But you never know.)

What about you? Were you more excited about blogging when you were just starting out? Do you ever feel like you are running out of ideas? What do you do to keep the spirit of a 6-year-old in your blogging?

Judy Dunn is a blogger and content marketing specialist. Her blog, CatsEyeWriter, is one of alltop.com’s ‘best of the best’ blogs and one of the 2011 Top 10 Blogs for Writers. She is also on the team at bestbloggingtipsonline.com.You can learn more blogging strategies at her March 15 webinar, 30 Design and Content Secrets to Skyrocket Your Blog.

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37 comments on “5 Reasons First Graders Would Rule Your Writing Blog

  1. aarongraham says:

    I feel like a first grader when it comes to my blog and writing in general, but I enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to hearing more from you!

    • Judy Dunn says:

      Aaron,

      Well, if you feel like a first grader, I’d say that half your battle is won. : ) Sometimes I think we make blogging more complicated than it is. Best of luck in your blogging journey and thanks for sharing here.

  2. T.S. Bazelli says:

    An umbilical cord in a jar? Now that’s something you don’t see everyday hehe. Sometimes I do feel like I have nothing important to say, but I think you’re right. Maybe I just have to try something new :)

    • Judy Dunn says:

      Ha! Yes, first graders are a laugh a minute. Never know what they are going to do or say. On feeling at times like you have nothing important to say, I would just say that it happens to all of us (wondering if a particular post offers something new, something useful, something valuable.)

      I would heartily encourage you to try new strategies and approaches with your blog. It’s how you learn what works and what doesn’t—what your readers respond to.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  3. K.M. Weiland says:

    This is a great list, Judy! Actually, it’s great not just for blogging and writing, but for life in general. If we can hang onto our inner child, we’ll not only enjoy life more, I have a feeling we’ll understand it better too.

    • Judy Dunn says:

      You know, you have a point there. 6-year-olds still believe in magic, in possibilities, in dreams. Good stuff for general living, too. : )

  4. My blog is new (just under six months old), but I’ve found myself loving it more as time goes on, which is probably the opposite of most folks. It’s exciting to brainstorm ideas, interact with others and build my piece of the web. I feel that I’m building momentum as I go. Thanks for a great read, Judy. (I really dig the kiddo with missing teeth!)

  5. Judy Dunn says:

    Laura,

    You are in a good place if you are loving this blogging thing more as time goes by. I am especially fond of the engagement part, too.

    And on the photo, when I found it on iStock, it screamed “first grader” at me and I just had to purchase it. : )

    • My hesitation was the time aspect. I had my hands full with client work, and wasn’t sure I could tackle a blog (and do it justice). I also got on board with social media at the same time…and at first, I have to admit I thought it was a total time suck. Not a time waste, but a lot of time spent engaging with and following others.

      Yes, it takes time to build and maintain a blog. It should be fun, or why do it? Also, social media is key for enhancing your online presence. Would I do it all over again? You betcha! I’m having the time of my life, have met some great people, and my workload has increased – I’m several weeks out to take on new gigs and often have a waiting list. All because I took my business online a little over five months ago.

      Very, very much worth every second I’ve put in. :-) Blogging is a magical creature – keep feeding her ideas and she will repay you a thousand times over.

      • Judy Dunn says:

        Boy. Now there is a success story. Thanks for sharing. On the time thing, in my blogging workshops, I say (even have it on a slide in my Mac Keynote presentation):

        “One kick-ass post a week is better than 7 crappy ones.”

        People always laugh at that but it is how I built my blog and how I have been able to start monetizing it. I started with one high-quality post a week. And, yes, the other social media tools (I really consider blogs to be social media tools, too) are quite helpful in promoting your blog and building your community.

        Congrats on the good things that have come your way through blogging. You obviously are doing it the right way. : )

        • Ollin says:

          Just to add to that Judy, I saw a Charlie Rose interview with the CEO of Disney–huge company right?–and Charlie asked him if he was going to expand or create more products with the company. But the CEO said no. They were not going to expand or produce more products, they were just going to make a few, REALLY GREAT products.

          And all of us are products of that philosophy, it’s the reason we all love Disney. Not because they create a bunch of content, but because the few content they do create is really great.

          So my point to everyone is: focus on creating GREAT content, and less on the quantity of the content. Great point, Judy.

          • Judy Dunn says:

            Nice, affirming story, Ollin. No wonder Disney does so well if they grew to be such a giant while still holding themselves up to that standard. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have to produce more, when better is the key word. Nothing takes the place of building community with stellar content.

  6. As a kindergarten teacher, I can really appreciate this post! I learn something from my kids every day.

  7. Ahlam says:

    I love this post because it not only applies to blogging but to life. Imagine if we approached life with an open heart and sense of excitement everyday? Wow, what a difference that would make.

    I think that running out of ideas for a blog sounds silly, but writer’s know just how awkward it feels inside when it seems like all the ideas have shriveled up and gone away to hide somewhere…come to think of it, maybe if I approach writing as a first grader in a game of hide and seek the words will flow more easily? I guess it’s a matter of writing with the sincerity of a first grader and the persistence of an adult.

  8. Pooja says:

    I still feel that am yet starting out. Though my blog will be a year old in April, I think there’s so much more to learn.

    Loved your fresh perspective on this, Judy. Thanks for this share!

    -Pooja

  9. Well you know what they say…children and animals have the most sense and wisdom in the world. Your post totally took me back too. Good memories. We all need to remember to let our first grade self out now and again :)

    • Judy Dunn says:

      brownpaperbaggirl,

      I am so with you on the children and animals thing. We adopted two stray cats and they teach us stuff every day!

      Nice to get in touch with our 6-year-old selves, right? : )

  10. I am still trying to find my socks after they were blown off by this post. Excellente’!

    As I was reading this post, swirls and tickles of my inner child exploded inside of me. I really appreciate the advice about the 1 post a week because the weekends seem to be the only respite I can lean on to put out material. Thank you, Judy, for your beautiful post and thanks, Ollin, for once again bringing value to us budding well-fed writers. :)

  11. Judy Dunn says:

    EJ,

    Wow. Thanks. Don’t think I’ve ever blown someone’s socks off before. : )

    Finding the time to blog can be a challenge for many of us. But if you keep consistent, even if it’s just once a week, you will build your community. Thanks for sharing here, E.J.

  12. Sonia M. says:

    Really inspiring words! Thank you for posting! I get so excited about little things sometimes and then I feel foolish. I guess I just need to embrace me inner 6 year old. :)

  13. Judy Dunn says:

    Sonia,

    Thanks. Those kids inspired me for years. : )

  14. This was very inspirational. I think it I am only now becoming excited about blogging. When I started out I had no clue what to expect and kind of used my blog as a way to understand my journey as a writer and poet but I never knew what I was meant to be doing. I spoke a lot about the importance of storytelling on my blog but very rarely shared my story with others because in a way I was too scared. I spend a lot of time performing and telling stories in person that the idea of doing it online with even more people scared me for some reason and I closed up as a writer and I took a break from performing. Funny how blogging brought up all these dormant fears in my life. Now I have learned a lot of lessons, had a lot of disappointments but I also have clarity and stories to share, which is why I love lesson 5 on sharing stories. I want to be like a first grader who just shares insights and stories online and onstage without a care in the world.

  15. Judy Dunn says:

    Vangile,

    Very interesting what you have to say here. It seems like sharing stories in person would be more frightening than online (at least for me, introvert that I am!).

    Is it that you feel your words are in stone, unchangeable, when you have written them? Writing and blogging have truly freed me up to say what I want to say, without nervously looking out at a crowd of people. : )

    We are all different and we need to honor our differences. You say you have learned a lot of lessons and had a lot of disappointments. It would be cool if you wrote about that—from the heart. Thanks for reading and leaving such a thoughtful comment.

    • Thanks Judy. I guess I am one of those people that was born performing. I was in drama class and then the lead debater in high school and then in college I started performing spoken word and just sharing stories in front of audiences and that was always comfortable. My poems, like most spoken word artists are very intimate and I have cried on stage and shouted but somehow blogging brought up a deep fear. I have been thinking about what you said I believe for me blogging brought up fears because for the first in my life I could not see my audience and get an instant response. In a slam contest the judges rate you instantly. If are a featured poet you know that the people are there to see your work and know of you in some way, they have already heard you bare your soul before. As a blogger I have no clue what people were really thinking, I cannot see their reaction in real time and change my “performance” which means I am blind in a way.

      • Ollin says:

        That’s what I love about Blogging, Vangile. The truth is you can only succeed if you learn to judge your self worth from the inside and not the outside. I’ve had people not comment before, or people actually giving me negative comments (I’m actually going to be talking about that on Judy’s blog on tuesday) and I’ve learned that the only way I could keep going is if I am happy with what I am producing. If I am happy and love what I write then that’s all I need. If people love it, hate it, or are indifferent to it, it makes no difference to me. I am happy with it and that’s all that matters. You gotta be your own anchor or else the tide of others will throw you from side to side and you’ll never feel stable.

  16. Judy Dunn says:

    Vangile,

    I love the interactions in a blog’s comment section because I always learn something. I can see how putting your work out there in a blog might conjure up fear. Until you start getting responses in the comments section (and many people will read, but never comment), you don’t get a sense of how they feel about what you offered from the heart. Never thought of it that way.

    Thanks for teaching me something today. : )

  17. Thank you Judy for interacting and getting me really think deeper as well because until Friday I was just happy to be blogging again but now I know what the issue was :)

  18. I have a first grader, so was nodding “yes” throughout this entire post. Maybe I should let him take over my blog for awhile?!

    • Judy Dunn says:

      Amanda,

      That’s what is most cool. Parents can relate. Teachers can relate. And the six-year-old in all of us can relate!

      Listen to your son. Because he can teach you a lot. : )

  19. Judy, these are great! My son is 13, and he still fits this profile. Especially weird—that unique character inside each of us is what makes writing worth reading.

  20. Judy Dunn says:

    Victoria,

    That your son, at age 13, still has some of these characteristics says a lot about how you have raised him. If he is open to the possibilities, still curious, and loves to tell stories, that is an absolutely wonderful thing. : )

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