Australia may have retained the Ashes in a draw this week, but batsman David Warner’s three daughters Ivy Mae, 8, Indi Rae, 7, and Isla Rose, 4, have different souvenirs from England.
“In London we went on the Big Red Bus tour, so they kept the ticket and that night they glued it in their diaries and they wrote about their experience,” mum Candice Warner said.
“My two eldest daughters have a journal next to their bed, and we do a lot of travel, so for them to be able to … put that pen to paper, to be able to really describe and explain what they see or how they’re feeling day to day … for a mother that’s priceless, just seeing their little minds in overdrive.”
Warner said she encouraged the girls to write everything down because it is “such a great life skill.”
“For them to be able to sit, take a minute to reflect on what they’ve done and how fortunate they are to have those experiences … is something to be able to look back on but it’s also a really great skill,” she said.
“That comes from reading. It comes from learning to spell. All those really vital skills that we need as we’re growing up and for the workplace moving forward.”
That workplace keeps evolving for the Ironwoman-turned-commentator-turned-author. With her memoir, Running Strong, now finished and in bookstores, Warner said “the learning process never ends.”
“Even as an adult, during the whole process (of) writing the memoir, I’m still learning new words,” she said. “Adding those into my vocabulary has also given me confidence.”
And if her spelling and writing practice as a debut author has brought a new-found ease of expression, Warner said those fundamental skills already spell capability and confidence for her children.
“Spelling and literacy are so important,” she said. “The confidence that I see it gives my three daughters when they learn to read, learn to spell certain words and just the excitement on their faces (when they master a new word) is fantastic.
“It also gives them more independence, that they don’t need their mum with them reading, that they can start to do their schoolwork on their own without asking Mummy, ‘What’s the question?’
“When they improve their reading, their spelling, their literacy, they just blossom as kids. For me, I always have lots of books around the house. There’s always books next to the girls’ beds.”
No stranger to the hard graft required to achieve different goals in life, Warner said the real power was in knowing how to spell a word yourself.
“Being able to do something for yourself,” she said. “Working hard for something and … accomplishing something that you’ve put the effort into – if you’re copying someone else’s work, you’re not learning.
“A new world opens up to you when you expand your vocabulary. When you’re reading a word for the first time and you learn the meaning, different things open up to you. That’s such a great feeling.”
With over 35,500 student registrations in just its second week, Warner said “the great thing” about the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee “is that it’s fun”.
“Learning is challenging at times, but if it’s something that’s fun, you’re not actually thinking about it as hard work,” she said. “It’s just that fun element and for kids I think that’s fantastic.”
Teachers can register students in the school round of the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee until August 18 at spelling-bee.com.au