Reluctant Writer?

Homework time.

My son, a kindergarten student, hates homework. It is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad time of day.  He moans, he groans, he sighs, he makes excuses. Is he a reluctant writer?

Alex is reluctant to write sentences with his high frequency “popcorn” words, but he will eagerly grab paper and a pencil to create writing of his own creation, for his own purposes and audiences.

When his friend was coming over to play, Alex decided to make this picture for him. He chose to make it multi-pages and to display it in this manner. While there are no words, his illustrations convey meaning about what he hoped to do on the play date.

Just the other day, he asked me how to spell “Dear Diary.” I have no idea where he learned about diaries, but when he lost his favorite putty he felt compelled to make a diary entry.

He followed up with another diary entry:

Last week, during the spring vacation, we visited the aquarium. Alex wanted to create a book about the experience. He dictated and I typed, adding in images from the day. You can  read the book here.  The last piece of writing I want to mention is a note Alex wrote for the Easter Bunny, carefully written and folded inside a plastic egg: “Can I have a dog?”  (As no dog is planned, this broke my heart- another effective use of writing.)

These recent writings of Alex reveal to me what he understands about writing:

  • Writers write for real reasons.
  • Writers write for themselves and for others.
  • Writers write about their lives, like a day at the aquarium.
  • Writers write to remember.
  • Writers try to persuade through their writing.
  • Writing might bring a change you want or need.

I taught kindergarten for ten years before becoming a third grade teacher. I always felt kindergarten teachers had a very challenging task as writing teachers because not only are they teaching all the foundational writing skills (how to form letters, the sounds letters make, the difference between a letter and a word, representational drawings, etc.), they are teaching young children what it means to be a writer in the world. Not only how we write, but why we write.

As a kindergarten student, my son still needs to learn when to use uppercase and lowercase letters, the proper formation of some letters, and strengthen his letter/sound correspondence. He needs to learn how to spell his high frequency words with automaticity.  But is he a writer? I think of how he runs to get paper and pencil, makes cards and signs, books and diary entries, and I say, yes- yes, he is a writer and there’s nothing reluctant about it.