It wasn’t until my son started public-school that he really knew anything about superheroes. Now our lives are consumed with them. At first I was incredibly resistant to the idea, despite my Reggio background and philosophy of always following his interests. I had spent so many years trying to provide more meaningful (hands-on, outdoor, exploratory, non-TV) experiences for him – and a commercialized free childhood – that I found myself having an incredible aversion to his new love of superheroes.
I am flawed.
Sometimes my own fears creep in.
The more I watched his love grow, though, the more I knew that embracing it was what I needed to do.
So I did.
Writing is so developmental. I truly feel that children begin to write when they are ready – if we allow them to. For my son, this didn’t begin until he was 5 years old and even then picking up a utensil to write or color was rare. But now that we’ve embraced the superheroes (and now that he is almost 6), he’s writing short stories in his journal almost daily. The thing about writing in this context is that there is no pressure to do it “right”, sometimes his letters are backwards, sometimes there’s no uppercase letter at the beginning of the sentence, sometimes there are no periods, sometimes he forgets to leave spaces between words, and his spelling is emergent (which I LOVE).
But he is writing.
He is pushing that pencil.
He is enjoying it.
It now has meaning for him.
TRANSLATION: Spiderman, iron man, tommy, green lantern, superman, Mr Fantastic, optimist prime, bumblebee, captain america, Robin, Wolverine, Thor, Batman, Ben, ?, Susan.
When we approach writing by embracing what they love it makes learning meaningful for them. We can explore uppercase letters, periods, and leaving spaces in between words in other contexts and he will eventually put the two together.
Around the time my son started “journaling” and making books, this perfect post from An Everyday Story popped up in my newsfeed. Yes!! We got busy making a superhero chain with the names on the back. Ours are a little different, but the concept is the same.
He loves it!
And I love that when he is writing his short stories, he does not rely on looking at the back for the names, but instead spells them phonetically.
We also bought this book to give him more things to write about, as well as the Marvel level 1 readers.
One of his sentences on the fridge.
The words we printed.
Thank you, Spider Man, for being such an effective tool in enabling my child to learn in ways that he learns best.
Purposeful writing comes in many forms when we follow the child’s lead. They can be a MAILMAN for the day (or week….or months), get involved in holiday traditions like labeling or DECORATING GLASSES, create mini books with their own stories (seen below), or document their travels as we have started doing (seen below)…..
“Spiderman is very strong.”
~ AK (MESE, MECD)