Published June 21, 2005
Volume 13, Number 6

Summer Camps for Students Bring the Joy of Writing to Hacienda School

The Early Learning Institute, which operates both the Hacienda Child Development Center and Hacienda School as well as similar facilities in Palo Alto and San Jose, is sponsoring two writing camps this summer for students in grades one through eight.

“Writing is inherently interesting,” says Peter Glassman, Ph.D., the executive director of Curriculum and Instruction for ELI’s elementary and middle schools and a former professor of English and director of the Freshman Writing Program at Columbia. “I think people are fearful of writing. Most people don’t practice writing, especially in the Modern Age. We rarely write letters anymore; very few people keep journals anymore. (At the schools), we try to domesticate writing, as it were, by giving students lots of practice in it but also to appreciate the joy that all authors feel in being able to craft sentences, design paragraphs, express their own thoughts, and persuade and move other people, and we keep finding that children come to love the work once they cease to be afraid of it.”

While the ability to write well has taken on added significance in light of the recent addition of a writing portion to the SAT, Dr. Glassman believes that writing well is an important tool in a child’s ability to think both critically and in an organized manner.

“We teach writing typically as part of core thinking skills and also as part of children’s ability to express themselves and to communicate the knowledge and sensibility that they acquire,” he says.

It may seem odd to use the word “camp” for activities with such important goals, but Dr. Glassman explains that this word was chosen very carefully.

“We use the word ‘camp’ deliberately, with clear intent. We want the children to enjoy and appreciate writing just as they might enjoy or appreciate swimming or soccer or other kinds of camp activities.”

The two, one-week camps, which will be taught in groups corresponding with different grade levels, will each focus on a different topic

“The first week will focus on expository writing: analysis, description, persuasion. The second week will concentrate on creative writing. The two really are closely associated activities: all expository writing is creative by its essence and creative writing needs to be explicative and persuasive, too.”

Classwork will include readings and discussions and each day will include opportunities for recreational and social activities. Students will receive individual evaluations of their writing at the end of each week along with recommendations for follow-up activities. Dr. Glassman will be assisted by Charles Bernstein, Ph.D., the president of ELI, as well as writing teachers from the Emerson and Hacienda Schools.

The Writing Camps will be held at Hacienda School the weeks of July 25 and August 1. Classes are held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day, with extended care available at no charge. Tuition is $500 for one week and $800 for two weeks. Students must register in advance. For additional information, e-mail writing@headsup.org or call (925) 485-5750.


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